Destination: Newfoundland Ferry back to Nova Scotia
Another day waking to rain. We woke up before our alarms went off and packed, quick and dirty. It felt good to get into a car with tidy and organized bins, even if we made a bit of a mess with our wet tents wrapped in the tarp.
Our hike for the day was the Ochre Hill Trail. This was another instance of being unimpressed by signage. The map we had from the park said the trail was about 4.5km, but when we arrived at the trailhead, it said 8km. We weren’t exactly prepared for 8k, especially given the rain; however, we were willing to risk that the map was right and the trailhead sign was wrong. It turned out to be a good guess – the trail was a 2km loop with a 2.5 linear path to a lookout.
It was moose-hunting season in Newfoundland, so we had been given orange vests from the park to wear for the hike.
The first half of the trail was really wet and rainy, but the forest was lovely. We got good and muddy on the way to the lookout. When we got there, we hiked up the purple scree, a completely different terrain than we were used to, to the top of the bare hill, exposed rock covered in moss and lichen. Although drizzling at first with the horizon clouded out by the rain, while we were up there looking around, the fog lifted and we saw the full scene, uncovered, before us. We hadn’t realized that there were lakes right in front of us, beautiful mist-covered bodies of water shouldered by tall tamaracks and evergreens. The contrast between the golden trees, the bare granite, the grey-blue of the lake, and the bright green of the foliage was stunning.
We tromped around a little bit trying to see if the path continued or not. Because of the scree and the tree-less hills, we couldn’t be sure if we were on the path or not. Eventually we decided we must be at the end of the trail and decided to turn around and head back. We hadn’t seen any moose or hunters, but when we returned to the parking lot, we saw a parks officer. My sister talked to him while I sat down in the car, listening to the conversation. He was telling us about how to call for moose, even demonstrating it for us. Like the parks staff who had replicated the squirrel so accurately back in Banff, this one also did an impeccable impression that had us in absolute stitches soon enough. He also made sure to go into depth in his explanation of mating calls and rutting behaviour. We were glad we didn’t get in the way of any of that business!
Our next hike was the campground trail, which wound around a campground (clearly). Most of the trail was in the woods, but every so often you’d see a picnic table poke out of the trees and you’d realize how close you were to the sites. The signage was abysmal, something that we were used to and yet does not get easier to interpret as you go.
After we finished that 2km trail, we made our way to the showers – the best of the entire trip with the exception of the hotel room. What luxury!
We stopped at the visitors’ centre to get souvenirs. They also had a little aquarium where you could see all kinds of amazing creatures, sea urchins and anemones, starfish and sea cucumbers, and who knows what else! It was awesome. From the gift shop, I got a parks shirt and some other souvenirs. We also stopped for a hot chocolate each and shared an order of mac and cheese. It was incredibly expensive or else I’m sure we could have both eaten an entire one, or more! It took forever for our order to come through, and our hot chocolates just didn’t cool down and we likely should have got them in to-go cups! However, we weren’t really in too much of a hurry since we were heading to Port Aux Basques for the night ferry.
I had been on the lookout for The Perfect Sweater, and I’d been so disappointed that I hadn’t found it at the parks store. But we stopped at a little gift shop on the way to the ferry, and I found it! A lovely, comfy black hooded sweater with an image of Newfoundland on it and the name of the province wrapped around it. I was so happy because I really wanted something awesome to take home from the island and wear.
We arrived at the ferry in plenty of time, as expected. We took our time organizing our belongings to make sure we had everything we needed for the 8-hour trip, including comfy clothes to sleep in, and our pillows. We got some decent seats and got something to eat – hot dogs. It was raining out so I didn’t explore the deck, but Christine did. She didn’t see the stars, nor any whales, but she had fun looking out around.
We chatted and wrote and listened to music until about 12:30am and then settled into sleep in the armchairs. They were comfortable enough but the position was just not conducive to any kind of good night’s sleep. I ended up taking half a sleeping pill, just in an attempt to get even a couple hours.
The entire time we’d been on the island, we’d been threatened by hurricane Irma. We’d been getting texts from family asking us if we were okay. And the trip back was a bit rocky due to the weather. Irma was the reason our trip had been so absolutely wet, although Newfoundland is definitely known for it’s wet weather this time of year. I was glad that the weather wasn’t worse, and by the time we were back on the mainland, we heard the rain really started to make a mess of Newfoundland.
We both managed to get a couple hours of sleep on the ferry, with waking up every now and then when someone let a snore rip out or made some other noise. For someone who doesn’t even sleep that well in her own bed with all conditions being perfect, I was impressed that I slept at all.