Getting Lost, Part 1: Biscan Cove Trail

Part 1 of suggested local winter adventures, by photographer Heather Nolan

The drive to Pouch Cove is a beautiful journey. You weave through the traffic of the city, from the industrial, concrete corner of Water Street, through colourful east Water, across King’s Bridge and onto the long stretch of Torbay Road, past the suburbs and box stores and the airport.

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The industrial reaches of the city slowly start to fade away. The houses fade away until they are the exception to the trees. You climb to Northeast tip of the Avalon Peninsula. Then you emerge through tiny winding roads, cliffside, exposed to the North Atlantic.

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The East Coast Trail in Pouch Cove begins as a forest path, a quiet tunnel through the dark trees. There was about a foot of fresh powder down; our tracks were the first to break the clean blanket of snow. And then an opening, a view of light. An edge.

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The trail cuts out over the cliffs, through the trees again, and back to the ocean. Everything was thickly coated and brand new. Glowing. We stood high above the sea, watched it take deep breaths. Felt the rush of standing too close to the edge. Behind us, Pouch Cove was bathed in the golden glow of January afternoon sun. Before us, the horizon was a fiery mess of storm clouds.

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I said it looked like theatre curtains.
He said, “Are they opening or closing?”
I said, “Definitely opening.”

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Best Snacks for This Trail:

  1. Thermos of tea for a quiet moment of awe (there will be many).
  2. Apples, bananas, raw carrots, and other snacks that you can theoretically eat without ever having to take your mittens off. Because brrrrr.
  3. Trail mix for eating with frozen fingers back in the car, to leave traces of seeds and nuts all over the seat as a reminder of how much fun you had for later. Note: Best to consume all of the dried papaya as quickly as possible for maximum enjoyment. And amusement as your adventure buddy nudges through all the damn peanuts wondering where the good stuff is.

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For Real Advice:

  1. Though 30 cm of fresh powder made for some breathtaking, untouched scenery, and made us photographers ecstatic, it actually made the trail very treacherous near the edges of the cliffs. Be careful. We wound up turning back only about 2km in because it was getting too dangerous. If you’re looking for a longer trek than that, this trail might be better suited to drier conditions. Or snowshoes!
  2. If you’re staying put for a while to enjoy the sunset, keep in mind how quickly it gets dark this time of year once the sun is down. If you’re planning to watch the sunset, try and make it back to a spot that isn’t too far from the trail head (there are plenty!), or make sure you’re equipped with headlamps or flashlights.
  3. Please don’t actually stand too close to the edge of things. It’s just a nice metaphor.
  4. This coast is largely exposed to the open North Atlantic. Always check the weather and winds before heading out – I imagine a bitter wind would pretty seriously ruin the joys of this trail.

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About This Trail:

  1. The Biscan Cove Path goes from Pouch Cove to Cape St. Francis, at around 7.3 km. We started from Pouch Cove. Drive through the community on the main road, and park at the ball field on the right hand side. About 100 feet farther up the road is a distinctly marked trail head.
  2. The Northern trail head is accessible via the dirt road that becomes the main road another several hundred feet past the Southern trail head, also on the right hand side. The ECT website cautions against low-lying vehicles on this dirt road. Be sure to check the passability of this road in heavier snows before venturing down.
  3. Apparently another .5 km past the Cape St. Francis trail marker lies the Cape St. Francis lighthouse, if you are feeling so inclined.
  4. There are no services or facilities in Cape St. Francis. Alas, do not expect to show up for lunch. Or water.
  5. For more information on this trail, check out the East Coast Trail website. http://eastcoasttrail.ca/trail/view.php?id=25

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Heather Nolan is an amateur adventurer and photographer based in St. John’s. You can follow along with her adventures on Instagram at @heatherofnoland, by using #gettinglostnl, or checking out her photography blog at http://heathernolanphotography.com.

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