After last years long kayak and camping trip I decided I would not commit to another long trip for this year. I do not sleep well when out camping and I find after I am deprived of sleep for a few nights I lose my zest for the trip; generally at about day three or four I find myself questioning why I am out there again... Now, don't get me wrong. I do enjoy camping and kayaking and the two just naturally seem to go together. I find I can tolerate two or three nights easily enough but after that the lack of sleep starts to do a number on me. But another trip was planned and once again I was looking at another week-long trip.
Over the winter months I had been contemplating my sleeping accommodations when camping. I'd been reading about how comfortable it is to sleep in a hammock and began to contemplate if this was an answer to my issue. So a few months ago I ordered a new Hennessy Hammock and tried it out on my next camping trip. I did not sleep longer but I found I slept more comfortable than sleeping in a tent. I slept in my hammock for another couple nights when visiting family so I could work out a few things with it. I was now hooked on hammocking and so I ordered an undercover/foam accessory to go with my hammock and a bigger tarp for maximum weather protection. I also ordered a bit of DutchWare (zing-it, wasps, whoopie slings) to make set up a little easier. I got to try out the whole system on an overnight trip the weekend before our week-long trip... Yep. It was definitely better than a tent!!
So on to the trip...
Day One (Sept 5th):
I had my gear ready to go at the end of the driveway, waiting for Hazen to pick me up.
Hazen was a little late, but we had lots of time. We met Tony at the TCH Irving at noon and off we went. We stopped at Goobies Junction to wait for Neville and Terry, who had stayed at Neville's cabin the night before. With our group now together we headed to Piper's Hole River to camp for the night.
After a little mucking around we finally settled on a spot across the old bridge to set up camp.
Sleeping accommodation were the first order of business... except for Terry, who seems to prefer to wait a while before pitching his tent.
We all pitched in to gather up some wood for the evening's supper meal and for the night's campfire that we would have beside the river.
Hazen had picked up some cold beer at Goobies Junction and had brought some proper beer glasses to drink it from as well... all rather civilized I thought.
|Hazen and Tony|
On this trip we decided to change up supper meals, except for Tony who closely watches his diet. We decided we would each supply a full meal for the group. Old Wobbly (i.e. Hazen) brought salmon, which we cooked over the fire.
A very satisfying supper was eaten, and dishes were cleared away. Then it was time to just enjoy the evening.
We enjoyed the evening into the darkness and after our firewood was all burned we went off to bed.
Day Two (Sept 6th):
I awoke early in the morning and lay for a long time, looking out through the open ends of the tarp. I had brought all the items I needed for my breakfast the night before and was able to make my breakfast without even getting out of my hammock.
I heard the other guys stirring around. I cleaned up my dishes and took down my sleeping quarters and carried it all to the car. The guys were down by the river having their own breakfast.
We packed up and drove to Davis Cove for the put in. Once the kayaks were packed up, Neville and Hazen drove to Monkstown and left Hazen's vehicle there; we wanted to have the option to paddle up Paradise Sound instead of going back to Davis Cove if the weather allowed us to do so.
|A couple of the locals came down|
for a chat while we were packing up
It took a while to drive to Davis Cove, pack up the kayaks, and then shuttle a car to Monkstown, but before lunch time we were finally on the water.
|An eagle sitting atop a tree|
|The guys checking out a little waterfall|
|Having a little break|
With tents/hammock up, we decided it was time to relax a little in the sunshine...
It was Neville's turn to provide the day's supper. He had decided on a traditional Newfoundland meal of fish and brewis complete with scrunchions... he even brought some molasses to pour over it!
|Looks some good Neville, me son! |
Give us a bitta dat, luh...
After supper Terry started the evening campfire...
... and of course we stayed up until all the wood that was collected had been burned.
Day Three (Sept 7th):
I got up in the morning feeling rather tired. I had been losing sleep over the last couple of nights and was feeling the effects. I packed up my sleeping accommodations before making my breakfast. The other guys were already having their breakfast on the beach.
Today would be a short paddle but a long camp day. In Clattis Harbour we happened upon a couple people in a boat who told us the wind was forecasted to pick up to fifty kilometres by noon. As we paddled we could feel the wind picking up. When we arrived in Leonard's Cove we had a talk and decided as a group that we would spend the night where we were. We had intended to paddle to St. Kyran's Habour but the forecasted high winds were cause for concern; once we rounded Grandy Point we would be exposed to the wind and a long fetch...
We set up our camp and then had our lunch.
St. Kyran's is about a sixteen kilometre paddle along the shore, but only about two kilometres over land from where we were, and so we decided to walk halfway to check out the remains of an old stone church that was built there. Terry decided he would not join us and instead would go about making the group meal he had decided on... he was going to make pea soup from scratch and it would take about three hours to cook!!!
So the rest of us donned our rubber boots and headed out for our little walk through the woods. We were awed by the remains of what must have been a beautiful building once upon a time.... I tried to find a picture of it intact on the internet, but have only managed to find this article ... click here ... it tells us about how this particular church was gutted by a fire, was rebuilt, and destroyed by another fire years later....
I think our walk tired Old Wobbly out a little bit....
When we arrived back at the campsite Terry was busy tending his post of pea soup.
We relaxed for a while waiting for our supper...
... while Terry kept an eye on the soup.
After supper we walked over to a little stream and filtered some water. Terry decided to walk to the church by himself and even continued on to St. Kyran's before coming back.
As the evening passed us by we lit the campfire and had a few drinks, strictly for medicinal purposes of course...
We had another fine blaze on the go that night. Most of our wood was burned down when we decided to call it quits for the night. It was picking rain as the guys headed for their tents and I headed for my hammock.
Day Four (Sept 8th):
The wind picked up from the north a couple hours after we went to bed the night before. I woke up to a flapping tarp and surf dumping on the beach. My hammock would sway back and forth as the trees moved in the wind, which was kind of nice. After a while I got out and tightened up the lines on the tarp but it made little difference to the flapping... flap, flap, flap.... and then the waves would crash on the shore. I did not sleep for the rest of the night.
During the middle of the night I seen a flashlight shining down by the shore; someone was checking on the kayaks due to all this wind and surf dumping on the shore. I was going to go down but figured if there was an issue they would roust the rest of us out.
Just before daybreak I watched as the light from another flashlight walked toward the kayaks. This time I got up to go down to the beach. It was Hazen. He had been awake for a while and decided to check on the things. It was high tide then and the surf was dumping on the beach, with the odd wave pushing water up the beach close to the kayaks. We figured since we couldn't sleep we would walk up and down the beach and keep an eye on things.
When it got lighter Hazen decided to head back to his tent so I went up the hill and sat under my tarp.
After a while I was feeling chilled and went down to my kayak to get my stove and breakfast items. I came back up and cooked and ate my breakfast under the tarp. After a while Neville emerged from his tent and made his way up the hill and sat under the tarp with me.
Then he decided to tie his tarp to some trees to give everyone else a place to have breakfast with some protection from the wind.
The other guys came around after a while. Tony figured it was just as well to go back to his tent then stand around in the wind. Then Terry made a big pot of oatmeal which he shared with the group, and even brought room service to Tony down the hill in his tent.
The wind was forecasted to lesson later in the morning so we decided we would walk the couple kilometres to St. Kyran's.
If you read the article I provided a link to in Day Three you already know there was a church built in St. Kyran's after the stone church between St. Leonard's and St. Kyran's was destroyed. It must have been quite a structure when it was intact.
In St. Kyran's we were in the lee of the northerly wind and it was actually a pleasant morning, so we walked around for a while.
By the time we got back to St. Leonard's it was lunch time. Neville checked the weather on his radio after we ate and it called for the same conditions for the next day. We decided we would paddle to St. Kyran's Harbour and spend the night somewhere. I don't think anyone was interested in spending another windy night in St. Leonard's.
We packed up and hit the water, getting a push down the shore once we rounded Grandy Point.
The extreme lack of sleep the night before, and the lack of sleep from the couple nights prior, was really getting to me this afternoon.... As I paddled those questions of "why the hell am I out here again..." stayed in my mind. I felt rather irritated and was chilled.
By the time we got to Kyran's Harbour the sky had cleared and it was a lovely day.
We had a look at camping conditions at St. Anne's but decided to paddle the additional three kilometres to St. Kyran's to camp for the night. I was tired and picked up my stroke rate a little, wanting to be off the water for the day. I was the first one to hit the beach with Tony just slightly behind me.
I found a place in the woods that looked protected from any wind that might come up and set up my hammock and tarp, taking my time. I wanted to try to get as good pitch so I could get as good a sleep as possible during the night.
Today it was my turn to provide the evening meal... I had bottled up some Deer meat chili for this trip and so only had to warm it up in Terry's big pot. Along with it I made some rice with mushrooms and had brought some Naan bread, which Neville toasted for us over a little fire. I also brought some tinned fruit cups for dessert.
There was plenty of wood around and we had another fine campfire on the beach this night.
Day Five (Sept 9th):
I fell asleep within minutes of going to bed the night before and only woke up once during the night but then fell right back to sleep. I woke up around half past six and lay in the hammock for a little while. I could hear someone stirring around, and I got up and packed up my gear before heading to the beach. I was feeling groggy but felt better with a decent night's sleep.
I had a slight skim of ice on one of my hatch covers when I went to my kayak. It was a very a lovely morning in St. Kyran's.
We had breakfast and packed up the kayaks and got on the water. We followed the shoreline around St. Kyran's Harbour...
... until we arrived at Presque.
We filtered some water in Presque, ate a few blueberries, and Terry walked around trying to find some plums on the plum trees there. He only managed to find one little green plumb.
Back on the water, we continued to follow the shoreline in Presque Harbour until we arrived in Beckford Cove, where we got out and had lunch.
From our lunch spot we continued around Presque Harbour until we reached the entrance that lead us back to the open ocean and made our way down the shore.
I was in front and when I arrived at the entrance to Toslow I waited for the other guys.
There is a very popular Newfoundland song called "We'll rant and we'll roar" (click here for lyrics and video). It's chorus goes...
We'll rant and we'll roar like true Newfoundlanders,
We'll rant and we'll roar on deck and below,
Until we see bottom inside the two sunkers,
When straight through the Channel to Toslow we'll go.
Sooo... of course we had to paddle out beyond the two sunkers...
... to see if we could "see bottom" and then we paddled "straight through the Channel to Toslow..."
We got out of our kayaks in Toslow and had a look around for a campsite.
When we walked up and over the hill we looked out onto the beach in the aptly named Sand Cove and decided it was a good spot to camp for the night.
We hopped back into our kayaks and paddled the short distance to the beach in Sand Cove and went to work setting up our camp. There were no suitable trees around so I merely pitched my hammock tarp on the ground and called it home for the night.
Hazen and Tony decided to climb a nearby hill above Toslow to see if they could get cell phone reception. I looked around and Neville and Terry had disappeared as well. So I sat down and enjoyed a drink of rum in solitude until a lonely looking gull kept me company as it walked along the shoreline in front of me.
After my drink I decided to collect up some fire wood for the nights campfire. Tony came along after a while and helped out with the wood collection, and then Terry came to help out as well.
It was time for supper. The community meals had come to an end the day before, but Old Wobbly offered to share his pasta meal with me as he had too much for one, so I got my stove out and we cooked it up. I provided a couple tins of fruit for our desert.
We started to lose daylight and it was time to light the evening fire. There hadn't been a lot of wood around but we scrounged up what there was and junked it up to make it last.
We had a few drinks and a few laughs before heading off to sleep.
Day Six (Sept 10th):
It was windy during the night. Not like the previous night but enough to flap my tarp and keep me from sleeping. The only continuous sleep I had was from about 3:30 to 4:30 am. The rest was just a little doze here and there. It rained a little as well and with the flapping of the tarp some rain had gotten in and my down sleeping bag got a little wet!
In the morning I was quite tired and again I wondered why I continued to do these long trips... I told myself that perhaps this would be my last one.
Neville was already up when I crawled out from the tarp. Before long the other guys were up and we had our breakfast and packed up.
With kayaks loaded we headed out of Sand Cove and made our way down the shore. We had a good wind in our face and the long fetch made for an interesting paddle down to Eastern Head. From there we crossed over toward Little Bona Cove and made our way down to Little Paradise Harbour. I had been in no mood for picture taking and the first one I took since leaving our campsite was near the entrance to Little Paradise Harbour.
We took out on the beach for a break where the community of Little Bona once stood and then paddled around the rest of Little Paradise Harbour before heading back down the shore to Paradise Harbour.
We continued along, passing Red Cove Head and turned up into Paradise Sound. A while later we found a little beach and stopped and had our lunch.
Paddling a few more kilometres up Paradise Sound brought us to the community of South East Bight where we received a good weather forecast from some locals for the rest of the day and for the next day. They also told us about a good campsite further up the Sound.
I think we were a good distraction for people as they took pictures of us and chatted away. I was too irritated from lack of sleep to be sociable and let the other guys do the talking.
Tony and I had decided to paddle ahead of the other three guys and after an hour we pulled up on a beach, still wondering where the great campsite was that the locals told us about. We decided to wait for the other guys to catch up and while doing so we poked around to see if the beach we were on was suitable enough to camp.
When the other guys caught up we continued about another kilometre and a half and found the spot we had been told about and we set about setting up camp.
I strung my hammock up in the trees at the end of the beach...
... while the guys pitched their tents in a grassy spot down the beach.
I was hungry and decided to get some supper on the go but the other guys decided it was Happy Hour time instead of meal time. They had a drink while I ate my supper.
Then while the guys were having their supper I had my Happy Hour time...
... and then later we all had another Happy Hour together.
There wasn't any driftwood on the beach in the protected cove and I don't think anyone was in the mood to cut down trees for firewood. We were all contented to just sit and relax and then darkness fell upon us. Later, Neville made some Jiffy-pop popcorn and shared it around.
It actually worked out to our advantage by not having a campfire this evening. As we sat on the beach we could see bio-luminescence in the water. It was pretty significant at times as little waves came over a rock just a few feet from the shoreline.
We chatted and I found myself nodding off a few times while sitting in my chair. We had put in a long paddle day and I had little sleep the previous night and so I was dog-tired this evening. After a while I announced I was going to sleep and went off to my hammock. I guess the other guys were tired too because within minutes they all decided to head to their tents as well.
Day Seven (Sept 11th):
I must have been really tired because, like a couple nights ago in St. Kyran's, I only woke up once during the night, then drifted back to sleep until morning. I crawled out and packed away my hammock and went down to my kayak and packed my gear into the hatches.
I got my breakfast on the go and ate in solitude on my end of the beach. The other guys were moving around down on the other end of the beach, getting their own breakfast and packing up their gear.
Today would be the last day of our trip. Monkstown was only a two hour paddle from our current location. We finished packing up and started our short paddle.
I was ahead of the other guys when Monkstown came into view.
I did not know where Hazen had left the vehicle a week ago but I paddled along the shoreline until I spotted it parked by the side of the road. I waited as the guys made their way into the take-out beach.
Hazen, Tony, and Neville got out of their drysuits and drove to Davis Cove to get Tony's and Neville's cars while Terry and I kept watch over the kayaks and gear. I had taken my totes out of Old Wobbly's car before they left and I occupied my time with unloading my kayak while I waited for them to return. Terry took a little walk up the road after a while but I stayed with the kayaks.
It wasn't too long before the guys were back with their vehicles. Then the other guys began the process of emptying their kayaks and packing up their gear.
When all the gear was stowed in the vehicles, and the kayaks loaded on roof racks, we set off to get lunch at the closest restaurant, which was about an hours drive away. We usually go for a feed of fish and chips after most of our camping trips, especially the longer trips, as our last meal together before heading off down the road and back to civilization and our non-kayaking lives.