What Happens on Zero Days: Day 9&10
I wasn’t sure if I was going to include my town day in this blog. However, I have realized that town days are always a big part of thru-hikes so it wouldn’t be an authentic experience to exclude it. I won’t bore you with all the tiny details of town chores, such as laundry and resupply shopping. This town day was unlike anything I have ever experienced before. I had never truly experienced a town day all alone and I really wasn’t sure what to expect.
Day 9 – Kilometers 211.5 – St John’s
I have only just over 5km to go before I get to the city of St. Johns where I will be indulging myself in good meals, craft beers, live music, and hot water for showers and laundry. Therefore, I decided that waking up early was unnecessary today. I lay in my tent until I heard the others stir and I gave them some time to do their morning chores. I could tell they were trying to be quiet on my behalf so I announced that I was awake by encouraging them that they could do large miles today.
After some time I emerged from my tent. “IT’S TOWN DAY!” I shouted. Saying goodbye to another set of friends I will never see again. It was a beautiful morning and I had a slightly significant climb to start my day. Well, I’d better be getting on with it before it gets too hot. I hiked through the forest to the top of the hill where the trail turns into a very exposed mostly bare rock. The city of St Johns came into view and I could see Signal Hill and the trails that surround it off in the distance.
I hiked off the hill and walked around the colourful St John’s Harbour. The boats and buildings that surround the water are all brightly painted. I’m sure brightens up the city even on the rainiest days. It reminds me of a child’s toy set. The first stop in town is always supposed to be breakfast, in my world anyways. Just as I was walking down Water Street, I walked past Newman’s Wine Vault.
The wine vault is a historic stone vault that was open to the public for tours. I wandered in to see what it was all about. When in Rome after all…
The ladies at the front desk offered me a glass of port to sample. I took a quick look at my watch (it was 9:30 in the morning). Before I can say anything the employee says “oh it’s 5 o clock somewhere and you look like you are on vacation.” It’s true I was, so I shrugged and gladly accepted the glass. Although the port was very delicious, I had not had breakfast yet. The wine was 20% alcohol so I stuck to just a classic tasting and did not drink the entire glass.
I really needed food so I finished up the tour and headed for food. I stopped at the first restaurant I found that had an outdoor patio. Since I haven’t showered in a week, I didn’t want to sit inside. I was very aware that I could ruin someone’s meal because they can smell my unwashed body and gear. I ate a full serving of eggs benny, coffee, and two extra spicey ceasers and then headed to my hotel. Fingers crossed they can check me in early so I could do laundry, have an extra long shower and take a nap. I was in luck. My room was ready and I did just that.
Out of fluke my timing to be in St. John’s happens to be during a week-long festival on George Street. A street that is full of bars is shut down and a stage is set up in the middle of the street. They then sell tickets to enter the street. It’s essentially a concert surrounded by 23 bars, allowing you to come and go from the establishments with your full drinks in hand. The Arkells are playing tomorrow night so I have purchased a ticket to go. Tonight is going to be a nice well deserved relaxing night.
After my nap, I left my hotel in order to find a local brewery. I love craft beers and one of my favourite things to do in a new city is to hit up a local craft brewery (or three). Luckily there is a brewery located across the street from my hotel so I didn’t have to look too far.
I was seated at a picnic table next to a local couple. They were kind enough to tell me what I shouldn’t miss out on, where to eat, drink, and what to expect from the local gallery/museum. Once the couple left, a group of three sat next to me. It didn’t take me long to realize that the trio was not all familiar with one another. As it turns out the guy who was seated next to me (Ben) was a tourist from Montreal. He had met these two friends (Hope and Lily) while they were all waiting to be placed at a table on the patio.
We got to know each other and I learned that Ben and his friend, McKenzie (who was currently off doing a day hike of part of the East Coast Trail), were headed to the George Street Festival tonight for the Alan Doyle concert. Since I had tickets to the Arkells tomorrow night I resisted his invitation for me to join them. He was incredibly persistent and in the end, I bought tickets for the concert later that night and we headed there together after the brewery.
I had no idea who Alan Doyle was when I agreed to join the guys but once he hit the stage I very quickly realized that he was the lead singer for the former band Great Big Sea. For a concert I wasn’t planning on attending, it was one of the best concerts I have been to. (and what a great concert to kick off getting back to the concert scene, since the pandemic hit). McKenzie, showed up just before the main act came on stage, and we immediately spent the night trying to introduce him to the women around us whom we have met throughout the night.
We met characters from all over the country, found common friends with strangers, danced the night away, and celebrated birthdays. After the concert we bar hopped with others we met earlier and what was supposed to be my quiet night turned into getting back to my hotel room at 3:3o in the morning. I partied as I would have in my 20s, and let’s just say… what happens on George Street… stays on George Street. Thank god I had the sense to drink a ton of water instead of beer at the end of the night because I don’t know if I would have been able to do another night out if I woke up hung over.
Day 10 – Zero Day – St Johns
My friends Ben and McKenzie left this afternoon so I hung out with my good friend George the Duck. I spent the afternoon relaxing in the hotel (what I was supposed to be doing last night). Before the concert, I headed to the Duke of Duckworth. They are rumoured to have some of the best fish and chips in town and I was on a mission to see if the rumour was true. There seems to be a bit of a local dispute over who has the best fish and chips. So, I tried a few of the top contenders while in town…
and the winner is…
In my opinion anyways.
I made small talk with the bartender and a local who was sitting at the bar with me. They insisted that I needed to be “Screeched In” before I leave Newfoundland. So we made plans to do so on my last night in town. We exchanged numbers to stay connected after my hike in order to make me an honorary Newfie.
George the Duck hits George Street…
Like I said before in Newfoundland you will never drink alone. I headed to the Arkells concert and immediately found people I briefly met earlier. George and I spent the evening with them drinking beers and listening to music in the street. It was a slightly less chaotic night, with no dance parties or late nights. I went home straight after the concert in order to get a good night sleep.
I would be heading back to the trail tomorrow and I didn’t want to be hungover or dehydrated. It would be another scorching hot day and I want to cover some good ground tomorrow. I have 5 days to complete just over 100km of the trail. This section of the trail is rumored to be some of the toughest paths. Wish me luck!
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