Archive for the ‘hiking’ Category

As everyone in Atlantic Canada knows, this has been an unusual fall. It was fairly innocuous and pleasant until Post-tropical Storm Noel hit in November, immediately followed by a mix of rain and snow (I wish it had been a bit less post and a bit more tropical). Then winter hit a “little” early, with frequent flurries and temperatures that rarely made it above -5 C. Then we got this week’s weather. Things started warming up until today it broke plus 10 in places, a fair amount of rain fell, then it cleared up this afternoon and was amazingly sunny, with brisk (to a Newfoundlander) winds and temperatures staying above zero.

The nice thing for me was that the storm gave half decent waves along the Atlantic coast, so I rushed to Peggy’s Cove after work. Except for the wind blowing sea spray directly onto my lens when shooting straight at the waves, it was perfect. I finished around 4:40 pm, then drove back to town. Things had become strangely calm, with very little traffic, almost nothing open (except video stores and movie theatres, of course). The sense of calmness and serenity was wonderful.

I went home, downloaded some of the images from the Cove, and present them as one view of an Atlantic Canadian Christmas. Happy and peaceful holidays, and may your New Year’s resolutions be little ones.

Looking Out the Entrance

Looking Out the Entrance
The Gulls were really active, since the waves had stirred up the ocean.

In the Cove

In the Cove
Bad waves almost never make it into the Cove. Today there were 4-5 metre waves outside the cove and pounding on the entrance.


Tip: Don’t shoot directly into the wind, unless you like spray on your lens…I wanted this shot so much I tried it anyway.

Broken rock

Boroken rock
The large flat rock near the centre was broken off the ledge in the foreground. I estimate that it weighs on the order of 120 metric tonnes.




Best Viewed Large. Note the chunk gouged out of the rock in the foreground. This comes from Noel in November. There was a lot of damage in the Cove.


Along the Coast

Along the Coast
The entrance to the Cove is just beyond the little red shack. This coast is full of rock ledges and often has a lot of wave activity.

 The Evening Light

The Evening Light
I know it is cliche, but the light was very nice.

Again, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and Happy Quanza, Hannukah, and Chinese New Year (coming soon). Given the recent weather, I’m just as happy with a warm and dry Christmas.

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Here are some random images from the area around Peggy’s Cove taken in the last few weeks. It is pretty similar to home, and I like wandering around. Occasionally there are some half decent waves, as well.

Happy Birthday,  Heather!
I found this on the barrens east of Peggy’s Cove. It was an iron sculpture in the shape of a flame standing exposed on a large erratic. I have no idea who made it, why it was made, or when it was made. It is a solid orange-red with rust.

Frosting on the Cake

Egyptian Tuckamore

On Castors
This Erratic had the most rocks and pepples supporting it.

Peggy's Cove From the East

Shed in Gold

Dawn Light on the Light

The Mirrormere

Jade and Whitewater
Still plunging, but with a nice wall of spray generated. Some of the water is being accelerated at 10-100 times the force of gravity as it is bounced upwards.


Jade and Foam
2/3rds through the plunge


About to Plunge
This is called a plunging breaker (the ones surfers like). This and the following picture were taken with identical settings.

There were some nice waves breaking on the coast on Sunday. I’ll be putting up some images for the next while; I took more nice ones than I had thought.

The front edge is accelerating downwards very fast. The shutter speed was okay for the previous shot, but the edge is moving too fast here. I still liked the effect too throw this out.

There were some nice waves breaking on the coast on Sunday. I’ll be putting up some images for the next while; I took more nice ones than I had thought.

I was driving along the coast and the wall of whitewater rising over the breakwater caught my eye. It was 20-30 feet high, judging by the 15 foot high breakwater.

Prospect's  Sunrise
Looking from Peggy’s Cove towards Prospect. ‘Prospect’s Sunrise’ On Black


Steel Dawn

A Minor Reflection
‘A Minor Reflection’ On Black

Gold Headlands
‘Gold Headlands’ On Black

Tending the Nets
‘Tending the Nets’ On Black
Fishermen from Peggy’s Cove heading around the point to tend a net. They put one person in each of the skiffs around the net to help handle it. They really stood out against the lowering horizon.

Reflections on the Weather
‘Reflections on the Weather’ On Black
There was a storm approaching, and I thought there was a bare chance of catching the sunrise before it clouded over. I did make it, but within half an hour it was dismal and intermittent showers started.

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How do you hide one of the more interesting landscapes on the Avalon Peninsula? Make it a 35 square kilometre island, put it in one of the most popular large bays near St. John’s (Conception Bay), and connect it to the mainland by a regular and fairly frequent ferry service.

You can’t miss it. It dominates the bay from Foxtrap north to Bauline, it is 9 km long and the long axis is parallel to the shore, and it is over a hundred feet high. A lot of the geology of the Avalon involves granite and shales along the coastline. Bell Island is mainly a sandstone geology, and in ways looks more like a mesa or butte than a typical island for the area.

It has been occupied at least since the 1700s by Europeans, and was probably occupied by Beothuks when Cabot discovered Newfoundland. In the late nineteenth century they started mining iron ore, which gave the local economy a great boost. When mining stopped in the late 1960’s due to uneconomical conditions for mining, the local economy collapsed and many people moved away. Recently, with the expansion of bedroom communities around St. John’s, some people are moving back. The 20 minute ferry ride is a little inconvenient, but much better than many of the commutes to town. Also, people get a boat ride every day, and the scenery can be beautiful.

What I love about this island includes exploring old and abandoned areas, exploring the strange sandstone and rock formations along the coast, and the general quietness when you get away from the main communities of Wabana and Lance Cove. They also have a tour of the old mine shafts, which extend out from the island under the bay.But the real wonder of the island are the views of the bay and the sky, especially the sunsets. The best sunset I remember in my life was from the field near the Bell on the south side of the island. Sunrises are probably wondrous as well, but I haven’t been there then for some reason!

Here are a few images of the island.

Northern Bell

The Northern Bell, near the lighthouse. There is also a sea-tunnel right through the rock.

Bell Island Lighthouse
The old lighthouse at the north end.
West Side of Bell Island

The west side of the island. The island gradually slopes downward from East to West.

Northern Bell

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Lighthouse from West Side

Water on Rocks

A stream trickling and spreading over the shelving rock. It was glowing gold.

Blade Near South End
When I was a kid there was a tree and a seagull nest on the top.

The Bell at Sunset

The Southern Bell, at the south side of a flat field.

Surfacing off the Beach

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The Bell

The Southern Bell. It is a couple of hundred feet high.

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Due to technological changes, etc, the mine was closed in 1966. This was the major industry on the island, and very few people remain. The island is beautiful, and almost abandoned

Moving up into the mist

Heading out through the main slope.

Air-Ocean-Seabottom-Air-Water-mine floor

They used to constantly pump to clear the lower galleries. People have done a bit of scuba diving, but a creepier experience would be hard to imagine. The galleries extends kilometres under the bay, where you would have over 100 metres of seawater, then the roof for the gallery, then you looking up at condensation dripping from the roof.

Wabana Mine, Bell Island, Newfoundland. Remnants of carts and tools. Mined closed 1966.

At these stables in the mine, ponies were harnessed to the carts, then moved to the mine head. Ore movement was never automated through the life of the mines.

Bell Island Mine
The way back, near the entrance. You walk up into fog, due to the low temperatures in the tunnels compared to the warmer air outside..

The trick if you got lost was to head back up the slope and look for light. Much of the route we took was totally dark, except for the flashlights.

Bell Island Mine

Ferry Terminal on Bell Island
This island is near St. John’s, NL, in Conception Bay. It was the site of a huge Iron Mine from 1895 to the late 1960’s.

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This is another section of the East Coast Trail. It is a nice short family jaunt, with a pleasant place to picnic, and on this day to watch whales. The Humpbacks had trapped a school of capelin against the coast, and were feeding within 50 metres of the shore.

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I think she is waving at the audience on the shore. It was one of the best whale watching experiences I have had. They hung around going after capelin for close to an hour, then they moved a bit out and started to dance and play tag.

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Gate to small cemetary south of Tors Cove.

Tors Cove

And finally back to the beginning.

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This is one of the East Coast Trail day hikes. It isn’t that hard, and gives you a different view of the oft-traveled route along the Blackhead road from St. John’s to Cape spear. This day was sunny with a light breeze and some interesting boating activity, including a Marine Institute life saving drill (which I unfortunately didn’t photograph). The actual hike includes a couple of moderate climbs, a crossing of a barachois, blueberries, wreckage from at least one ship, a few whales, peace, quiet, and puts you one hill away from Cape Spear.

Fort Amherst Lighthouse

To start the trail, you go along the South Side Road until you see this view of the Fort Amherst Lighthouse. This means you’ve gone too far and you have to backtrack a few hundred metres until you see the sign of the hiker on the hill. It’s a nice view,  though!
Looking South

A look south from Fort Amherst. There’s almost always a little white water on the ledges here.

St. John's Harbour Approaches

You start the hike with a little 500 foot climb. Then you turn around. From this view you would never tell that there is a city slightly to the left that has been settled for almost half a millennium. On the first headland you can see the North Head trail, then Cuckold’s Head, the Quidi Vidi, then…
Signal Hill from South Side Hills

The only way you get this view of Cabot Tower is to climb the South Side Hills, or become airborne somehow.

Trail to Freshwater Bay then Blackhead
Cabot Tower unsuccessfully hiding behind rock cairn. To the left is Fort Pepperell and the Fisheries and Oceans facility in the White Hills.
Freshwater Bay

Freshwater Bay and the barachois. A year or two before a storm had cut the barachois on the south side (left), but natural wave activity had restored it to half of its original thickness.

North Head and Harbour Entrance
You can see Cabot Tower on the hill, and Fort Amherst Lighthouse on the rocks near the middle of the image. Pop Quiz: What is the name of the headland that Fort Amherst is on?
To Blackhead

Peggy’s Leg

Looking North

Signal Hill distant
If you look closely, you also see Fort Amherst.

To Blackhead

To Blackhead
Tuckamore. It is only another kilometer to the road in Blackhead.

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