Hikers and campers will soon be headed into the great outdoors in droves for some much needed wilderness therapy after a long, snowy winter. Of course, there's nothing like a wildlife sighting or two – perhaps a moose ambling along the trail or a hungry gray jay sneaking off with some picnic lunch - to feel at one with nature.
But what if you come across a bear?
According to Todd Hollett, a provincial government wildlife technician, if a bear approaches you, "Stay calm and give it space, ensuring that it has an escape route. Back away slowly, while speaking calmly and firmly. Never run or climb a tree, as this may evoke a predatory response. Avoid eye contact so as not to challenge the bear. Always be extremely careful around a bear with cubs. If a bear attacks, DO NOT PLAY DEAD. Fight back, making lots of noise as you do. If you have bear spray, use it."
For more of Todd's bear safety tips, plus all the facts you need to know about the two bear species that roam our province, see "Where The Bears Are" in the May 2014 issue of Downhome.
If you see a bear in or around your community, or become aware of a habituated bear, call your nearest Conservation Officer at your local Department of Natural Resources Office.
March 31, 2014 marks a sombre anniversary in Newfoundland and Labrador. On that day 100 years ago, the sealing vessel SS Southern Cross disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again. The disaster took more lives in a single sealing accident than any other in the history of the province – yet no evidence of what happened on that fateful March night ever surfaced.
The ship, bought and sold several times since it was built in 1886, was a Norwegian whaler and an Antarctic explorer before it saw its first Newfoundland seal hunt as one of the Baine Johnson fleet in the spring of 1901.
On March 12, 1914, Captain George Clarke of Brigus and his crew of 173 young sealers from Conception Bay left St. John's for the Southern Cross's fourteenth hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. On their way home, with a full load of pelts, they were seen by the crew of the SS Portia about five miles off Cape Pine at 11:00 a.m. on March 31. At the time, a snowstorm reduced visibility almost to nil. The captain of the Portia hailed the Southern Cross, which had no wireless communication onboard, with the ship's horn. Captain Clarke returned the gesture, indicating all was well. But sometime after the Portia sailed away, the Southern Cross and all 174 men onboard vanished without a trace.
So, you want to explore the great outdoors and find secluded places that offer spectacular coastal scenery – but the truth is, your legs just aren’t what they used to be. Lucky for you, there’s no need to stay holed up in your house during hiking season. While you mightn’t be able to conquer the famous 16-km hike that leads to and from Gros Morne Mountain, there are scores of trails and paths throughout Newfoundland and Labrador that don’t involve gruelling climbs over difficult terrain. The following is a list of hikes considered easy enough for most hikers, without skimping on scenery. Of course, only you know what you’re capable of, so judge accordingly.
La Manche Village Path
Several paths lead to La Manche Provincial Park and the former settlement of La Manche – but if it’s a shorter hike you’re looking for, use the community of Bauline East as your entry point. From here you’ll walk an easy 2.7 kilometres along the East Coast Trail. Here you may continue across the suspension bridge, which leads to the abandoned village where only headstones and crumbling foundations of houses remain. Camping is available nearby. (Shawn Bursey photo)
This scenic spot in St. Anthony (pictured above, right) is the starting point for four excellent trails – three of which are rated easy with estimated completion times of 30 minutes each. Cartier’s View Trail leads to a view of St. Anthony Bight Harbour, while the Iceberg Alley Trail skirts the tip of Fishing Point Park. The Whale Watchers Trail offers awesome ocean views and – as the name indicates – is a great spot to watch whales in season. (Brian Twyne photo)
The narrow isthmus that connects the Port au Port Peninsula to the rest of the island is home to this gem of a trail. Hikers enjoy a seven-km looped trail that skirts the ocean, meanders through the woods and offers spectacular views of sea stacks, coves and caves, and on closer inspection, fossil sightings. Hikers also marvel at the mysterious “hoodoos” – limestone formations created by wind and waves. (Aiden Mahoney photo)
Green Point Coastal Trail
This six-km (return) hike is one of six trails in Gros Morne National Park rated “easy” by Parks Canada. It follows an old mail road that takes hikers past lovely cobble beaches, places for picnicking, plus limestone cliffs where fossil remains can be seen. Click here to find more easy trails in Gros Morne. (Heather Lindsay photo)
Caplin Bay Path
This 5.2-km (one way) trail spans the distance between the Irish Loop communities of Calvert and Ferryland on the Avalon Peninsula. Hikers pass through a coastal wooded area, with access to rocky beaches along the way. A side trail leads to an area known as the Gaze, which offers a stunning view of the Ferryland Downs (pictured). (Tracey Coady photo)
Copper Mine Falls Trail
Beginning in York Harbour in the scenic Bay of Islands region, the Copper Mine Falls Trail is a scenic 0.5-km hike that leads to a spectacular waterfall. It is part of a network of trails developed by the Outer Bay of Islands Enhancement Committee Inc. (Matthew Webb photo)
Rated easy to moderate, this five-km trail near the tourism hot spot of Bonavista connects Elliston to Spillar’s Cove, following a traditional path used years ago to connect the two settlements. The area is famous for its puffin and other seabird sightings, and a hike on this trail is one more way to view them – so be sure to bring your binoculars and camera. (Steven Stryde photo)
Boney Shore Trail
The latest addition to UNESCO’s prestigious list of world heritage sites, you can be sure this trail will be seeing more and more travellers in the very near future. Located in Red Bay, Labrador, the Boney Shore Trail is relatively flat with gravel underfoot and takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. The path is still eerily littered with whale bones dating back to the 16th century, when Red Bay was a massive Basque whaling station. Click here for photos and details.
The trail to Spiller’s Cove in Durrell on South Twillingate Island has several entry points. For a short, 20-minute jaunt, begin your adventure at Slade’s Lane. At the journey’s end, take a break in the horseshoe-shaped cove and marvel at the huge round rocks forced up the beach by severe wave action. This spot really shines during iceberg season. (Nick Adey photo)
Rattling Brook Falls
Rated easy to moderate, this one-kilometre long trail leads to an 800-foot waterfall and lookouts that provide awesome views of the town of Rattling Brook, located on the Baie Verte Peninsula. Hikers should be prepared for stairs! (Robert Carter photo)
What's your hands-down favourite hike in Newfoundland and Labrador? Leave a comment and tell us what it is, and what's so special about it. Better yet, share your photos of the sights seen from the trail.
In the November issue of Downhome, our staff writer Linda Browne explores the unique Newfoundland dialect. I've always been fascinated by the way we commonly use alliteration, personification, onomatopoeias, metaphors, similes, puns and hyperboles to add life and colour to our conversations. Many of us wouldn't know these terms as communication devices, but we instantly recognize them when given prime examples.
Take the hyperbole, which is a gross exaggeration not meant to be taken literally. The road was very winding is a non-hyperbole. However, The road was so winding that there was times when I seen my own tail lights is a hyperbolic statement that gives us a much better understanding of how winding the road really was. As youngsters, my friend Cyril Cooper and I were playing on the beach one day when his father, Frank, yelled the following hyperbole: Cyril, if you don't come up from the beach this minute I'm going to crack the skin on thy skull and haul thy carcass up through. Cyril made a hasty departure from the beach in the direction of his house. Frank was very prolific in the use of hyperbole. He once threatened his son Herb: I'll hit you so hard over the head that you'll have to turn down your socks to see out over.
A metaphor is when you use words together that are not usually associated. It is usual to say the blood is pumping through my heart, and it is common to clapboard your house. These phrases are not metaphors. If someone is doing something you don't like and you want them to stop, you could threaten them by saying, If you don't stop what you're doing, I shall strike you. But it doesn't sound very forceful. Hey buddy, how would you like your heart clapboarded with your ribs? is a metaphor, and is much more attention-getting.
Phrases that compare two things and include the word like or as are called similes. Old as Buckley's goat, like the briny ocean, deaf as a haddock, and rough as a dogfish's back are some that immediately spring to mind. Sometimes we use more than one communication device in the same sentence. My hair is like a birch broom in the fits incorporates both the simile and the metaphor.
An onomatopoeia is a word that makes the sound of what the word itself means. The hiss of steam coming from the kettle sounds like it says. The sound of the brook was music to my ears uses a metaphor, but not an onomatopoeia. However, The brook rippled and gurgled over the rocks as it wound its way down the mountain, creating a merry melody that was pure music to my ears, contains more than one communication device. Rippled and gurgled are onomatopoeias. The phrase merry melody is another language device called alliteration. An alliteration is a string of one or more words that start with the same letter or sound.
Personification is giving human characteristics to an inanimate object. You could say someone stole my grapnel from the stage head. But more interesting is the use of personification to say my grapnel walked right off the stage head. And the sky opened up is much more descriptive than it rained hard.
Another device we use here in this province is known as opposites. It's a common way to add strong emphasis to a statement. The blueberry pie was bad my son, when said with the right voice inflection means that the pie was delicious. Awful good, and some shockin' good are two other wicked examples of opposites.
Two communication devices I haven't mentioned are cuss words and rhymes. Newfoundlanders use these devices to make a point, and sometimes they use cuss words that rhyme to be even more effective. More often though, alliteration is used to emphasize cuss words. By the lard, liftin', lamplightin', reevin', roarin', mortified Moses is one example. There are thousands of others, with new ones being created each day.
To learn more about the evolving art of language in Newfoundland and Labrador, see Linda's story in the November issue of Downhome.
Haven't experienced the thrill of dog sledding? Click here to check out this video and watch part of one dog sledding excursion, offered by My Newfoundland Adventures on Newfoundland's west coast. For more information about this truly Canadian adventure, check out the February 2009 issue of Downhome magazine.