Offa’s Dyke Path, Day5 Trefonen to Welshpool

Day 5 of 14 done and I loved it! Ok full disclosure it was a LONG 27km that took me over 8hrs to complete and the last couple of kilometers along the canal and then through Welshpool city to town centre seemed to take FOREVER … but what an easy walking, long stride, sunny day!

I started the day with sunglasses on and a climb through grassy sheep filled fields to the top of Moelydd at 934feet. A nice little warm up to the day – a little yoga and stretching may or may not have occurred at the top.

From there the path moved into some fantastic forest walking. A little dark, soft underfoot, sounds muted and another very steep and long climb up to the Llanymynech Rocks Nature Reserve. Such a great section of the trail and oddly some of it was along a golf course!

The only downside – I was clearly the first person through the forest this morning. I was glittering with webs by the time I made it through and had to send a few 8 legged hitch hikers on their way. Free loaders!

As I came down from the Reserve I was surprised to be welcomed to England! I knew the Offa’s Dyke crossed the border a few times but just felt odd to actually experience being in Wales one minute and England the next! And no one asked for my passport of vaccine proof lol.

The next bit was a couple hours walking the canal. This section is ‘dead flat’ as per my guide book and the entertainment was all the different tunnels/bridges.

From canal to cattle … I spent the next couple of hours walking a very, very, very long grassy embankment through so many livestock fields. The benefit of sheep – they are cute and move for you. The downside of cattle – they are also kinda cute but you move for them. This can add both a lot of steps and a lot of thistles and stinging nettles to your day as as you try and find ways to give them a wide berth. I felt like they were on my path EVERY TIME!

Along the embankment section I met a couple of ladies who where from England and walking the Path but crazy enough had lived in Vancouver for 20 years as nannies! I also met Al (an older American gentlemen who may also be doing the Cotswold next) and is the very same walker I was asked to say hello to by Bruce (an older English / Australian) who I met on the Path yesterday. What a network!

Now back to canal … I finished the day with a couple more hours on the canal. While maybe a bit monotonous there are some benefits – like a bench every once and a while for a snack or to throw the throbbing feet up for a wee bit.

Highlight of the day? This wee guy peeking at me as I was walking along the canal! I wanted to just cuddle and keep him so bad. Cute!!

I wrapped up in Welshpool at the 300 year old Royal Oak Inn that I am sure is haunted… but I enjoy my large glass of wine so I sleep like a baby and then wait to Google ‘ghosts of Royal Oak Inn’ tomorrow when I am already well on my way!

Speaking of tomorrow, I am off to Lower Cym and staying at the Offa’s Dyke Path B&B right on the Path. My last waking day before a rest day.

Brandé

Offa’s Dyke Path, Day4 Llangollen to Trefonen

Day 4 of 14 done and today was such a pleasure. I am between mountain ranges and very much appreciated the valley time today. Do not get me wrong, there were some doozy climbs but loads of rolling slopes too and these stems can eat those kilometers right up!

After a ride back up to Dinas Bras at 930am I started my day. A couple+ hours later than my preference but that is how B&Bs roll … if you want the breaky part of the B&B that is!

The day started with a lane walk but quickly shifted into fields and a lot of forest walking too – so quiet and so soft underground in the forest! Trevor Hall Forest was perfection!

From forest to canal! I was excited to walk along the canal for a while – seeing the very long passenger boats go by was so neat. Next time I think a canal ride between towns and then walking the rest of a day would be magic.

I chose the low path along the canal to get photos of the 126 foot high aqua-duct that the canal runs across (even the boats). The walk way on the aqua-duct is an alternative Offa’s Dyke Path route for those who like heights and we have established I do not!

After my canal time, it was field to lane to rocky trail again for the rest of the afternoon. The threat of rain hung in the air all day – but only torrential rained twice for a short time (less than 30mins) and immediately followed by sunny skies! Yahoo.

I did have a run in with some very stubborn milk cows .. these little jerks would not move so I could walk through. They just looked at me and kept eating grass. When I did a little arms wide ‘move on ladies’ they all stopped eating and looked at me.

That scared me a little, so I used the barb wire fence to try to gracefully cross a cow crap / bog swamp thing and well that failed miserably when I slipped off a stone into the ick and could feel my blister burst on impact. Ugh so sanitary.

Finally made my way across the poo bog and gave all the cows a wide berth to get across the field. But then they started following me. Ugh I double timed it big time! I am not drinking milk for a week – that will learn em!

(When I did Hadrian’s Wall Path in 2008 I was literally chased by a bull so I may be a little sensitive to the whole bovine thing.)

One of my big highlights today was meeting a fantastic couple on this bridge. They retired in Australia and are on a 3 month walking holiday, they have done a few Paths here I Uk have done (like Wes Highland Way) and a few I want to (like Coast to Coast) and … believe it or not .. they will be doing the Cotswold at the same time we are! Chess and Susie – hope to see you again but maybe let’s not stand about chatting for 30mins on the Path next time 😉 Pub would be better!

I finished up my day at 21km today and caught my transport into Oswestry – another fantastic little town to check out!

That last one there is my wee home for the night and my room has a Nespresso and a milk frother in it! I have not had a coffee since I left home – I may have done a little happy dance and forgave the cow jerks from earlier.

Tomorrow I am off to Welshpool which will be a 24km walk with more time on the canal – my foot is loving the easy walking. A good ‘rest’ as the next mountain days are looming.

Brandé

Offa’s Dyke Path, Day3 Clywyd Gate to Llangollen

Day 3 of 14 complete and what a beauty – I got a bit of everything today. Quiet lane waking, some hard work up and over livestock fields, quiet and dark forest paths, and even a lengthy and amazing stone pathed bog (my favorite!)

I topped out at 26 kilometers today in just over 8 hours and honestly I felt every step. Maybe a good time for a foot update…

4 months ago in a soccer / futbol match I tore 2 ligaments in my right foot. Not ruptured but a grade 3 tear aka barely hanging on. You cannot fix ligaments except with surgery and they don’t do that until they are fully torn (ruptured). The result was months of physiotherapy to make my foot and ankle and calf and hamstring stronger so they compensate for these now wimpy ligaments.

Well as I walk farther and harder (up and down steep sections of which are around every corner or stile) my muscles get tired which then let’s those ligaments misbehave. Long story long, we are only day 3 and every step feels like fire in my heel and a punch in the arch. Once I get a good clip on it feels much better (not gone) but after any break or pause it’s a bit of torture for a while and I am pretty super sore at night. Combine that with the rocky surface or cow churned up field and holy-heck-ouch. I have pain killers (not sure they work) and topical pain killer cream (I think helps a bit) and stretches but it’s feeling pretty ick.

I may need to build in a rest day and that makes this long distance hiker’s heart break – i will think about it over the next few days and pick it strategically if I do. I don’t want to mess up the Cotswold Way Walk that I do just after Offa’s with my sister Shar and our besties Rosa and Cheryl. I do have a rest day between so that’s good this and that – so that’s good!

Back to the good stuff …

I put up a compilation video on @runningforthegate Instagram off some of the different trail bits to give you an idea of that too.

What I didn’t get to do today was the scree crossing – this terrified of heights gal just couldn’t make it happen. I thought it was pretty short like 100-200meters and was fully prepared to make it /happen. But, oh no my friends it is over 2 MILES or 3.2 KILOMETERS long and there is NO exit and is largely just shoulder width with nothing on the edge. You have to strategically think about how you pass people. That is just too much for me. Ugh thinking about it makes me all tummy floppy. The tipping point was honestly 3 different walkers I passed who had just come from that section encouraging me (without prompting) to take the alternative lane route – that is was awful. Lane it is!

To give you an idea of what this scree crossing is all about … here is a photo of the scree path from the nice, flat, quiet and quaint lane I was walking (it runs parallel). See that line across the mid point of the scree slide? That is the path! The second picture is the same shot just super zoomed in to show you the hikers up there that you cannot even see in my first photo it’s so high and scary and awful and no thanks!

My day near wrapped up with a break on a bench (that they call seat around these parts) admiring the ruins of the Dinas Bras Castle – or as one old gent put it when he asked where I was headed as I walked past his farm ‘that there is a real castle not like one of those pretty Edwardian things England offers’. While having my break, I ate my classic apple and a chocolate as another old guy and I exchanged stories of our long distance walks, his favorite was West Highland Way. Me too!

From there it was a 40 min lane stroll down into Llangollen where I am staying at the Squirrels B&B which is amazing! My room is so great and perfect and I enjoyed a warm tea, some cookies and a little nap with my feet up the wall as soon as I strolled in.

After that, a short stroll to check out this cute little town – and grab a pint and dinner, of course. What a cute little town!

Tomorrow is another 26km but looks pretty amazing .. and will be as I am going to wake up and my foot will be all fixed! 😉

Brandé

Offa’s Dyke Path, Day 1 Prestatyn to Bodfari

Well that’s day 1 of 14 done and what a start! Looking at my notes from the guidebook all the things I jotted down came true: 21km; I wouldn’t have a spot to stop for for, snacks or toilet. was able to get let my break; steep sections especially right out of Prestatyn; and lots of livestock fields. Yup! Check, check, check and check.

I started out just before 8am from the official starting point of the Path marked with a cool monument thing right on the beach. I also posted a short Instagram TV video with an intro to the day over @runningforthegate.

I had hoped to stop and grab some food for the next couple days but it was an early Sunday morning so that was a bust! I did get a packed lunch from the hotel and knew the soggy tomato and shredded cheese sandwich, some crisps (chips) and an apple would hold me today so that’s all right. It’s the next couple days I am worried about but I will fix that in Ruthin where I am staying with a 6am run to the market… I hope.

The walk started through the quant, quiet little town of Prestatyn and then up up and up to fantastic views back to the coast where I started. You can see the hill that is guilt as the up, up and up behind the clock in the distance.

From there is was steep up, flattish through livestock and farm fields (which are total ankle breakers by the way), and some serious downhill stretches. Also a nice amount of laneway (like a wee baby paved road with no traffic) where these legs get a chance to really stretch out.

The path was pretty fantastic as far as being cut back and well maintained, and the way finding was epic. The little acorn – my bestie for this 14 day journey – was epic. I was confused for maybe a minute and maybe twice.

I also loved all the stiles. While getting my leg up and over these suckers was pretty entertaining by end of day – I do love them. They are a symbol of hope (maybe the next bit is flat), fear (maybe the next bit has a stupid bull that wants to smash me), or maybe they are just a stile and I should just pop my leg over and keep on going. Right then.

The spirit of hiking weather heard me tell Instagram this morning that I was prepared for the rain – so it barely happened. Yahoo! It did a little mist thing a few times but mostly just cloud cover and even a touch of sun or two. It only really rained for less than an hour. Yahoo!

The winds were brutal – I posted a video on Instagram @runningforthegate with a few seconds of different parts of the trail and you can hear the wind blowing hard! You can see in one it gusted me a bit and another it didn’t cover up my mouth breathing from the uphill slog.

I had thought I would wrap up between 4 and 5pm but I got to my destination at 2pm. I will admit I had thought I was going to way behind my estimate finish time so when it was flat these stems were going flat out! It was nice to finish early, I had me a Beachcomber Blonde Ale local from these parts and served just chilled from a hand pump not a pressurized keg and a broccoli blue cheese soup. Yum! (The mountain or Moel range you can see in the background is the ridge I walk for tomorrow)

From there I called for transport to the town of Ruth’s (pronounced like rushin’) for my stay at the Saram House B&B. I get to stay here for 2 nights and it’s amazing!

To try and keep myself awake till atleast 7pm – the time change is hitting me like a bag of broken clocks and I need to get adjusted fast – I went for a walk about this little town.

They have a castle! Rushin Castle to be exact and it is so super cool. Literally 3 flats from my little place which is amazing!

Ok that’s me back at my cozy room with my misbehaving foot up, in a compression sock, with topical painkillers on it .. having a wee tea before I hit the horizontal. I made it to 7pm, party animal!

Tomorrow, rain expected and higher winds – perfect for my ridge walk! Maybe the winds will gentle push behind me and make the day so easy … 😉

Brandé

20 Sleeps and 20 Kilometers

The countdown is on for real now folks! I am under 20 days to departure which means I am in the final push of my training.

Getting miles and trails under these feet that will best emulate what I will experience abroad is important! Just as important as testing every single piece of gear, yes even your undies, and the food you intend to eat while hiking before you even leave on your adventure!

Yesterday’s training was about all of that – the gear, the food (and water) and the hike.

I picked a fantastic recorded trail on All Trails called Burnaby Mountain Tour – it promised the length I wanted (around 20km), a lot of elevation gain and loss, mucky messy trails, and rain! Yes, I purposely picked a day with a forecast of 100% rain so I could give the Gortex of my boots a go.

Trail and distance training …

The trail and length were fantastic – ok full disclosure there were a few uphill slogs where I would have rather been in a pub – but still fun. Pretty impressed that I got it done under 6 hours considering the rain and elevation gain/loss – but that’s a good sign for my UK hiking days ahead.

I don’t usually worry about the time I finish. I am just out there to take it all in for as long as it takes – but loads of pubs and restaurants stop serving food over in the UK before we ever would here in Canada. So while you don’t need to rush on the trail per se, you do need to be mindful of the time or potentially go hungry.

I remember a time on Hadrian’s Wall Path after a very tough and wet long hiking day got away on me, I walked into the ONLY pub right as the kitchen shut down. The barkeep said there is was no more food. This hiker (me) erupted into a look of horror with tears in her eyes. The barkeep offered fish & chips. I think he saw I was on the edge and wanted to avoid tears. It was the day I was chased by a bull so I was a little emotional. More on that another time.

Food and water …

For this upcoming adventure, I have quite a few days in and around the 20km mark in Wales and England so today was a good lesson at this length. And a length that reminds me why you carry our max water and take just a bit more food than you need….

More water! I ran out of water at about 12km of a 21km hike. On a cool, rainy day it was not too horrible a thing. Had it been hot, I would have 1) carried more, like my usual 2.5 liter bladder not a bottle in the first place and 2) planned where the water refill opportunities were on my route. The H2O spirits were on my side yesterday – at about 13km there was a random skate park with an epic water fountain. Filled me up and then my bottle. I did also have my Life Straw with me if things got bad and I had to take a guzz from a creek.

More fuel! A good reminder that what you pack for a 5km walk-about is not what you pack for 20km+ hike. It is both more and different food you need – not just 4 times more. You need to think of cumulative calories burned and the total time hiking, what your usual meal cadence is over the time you are on the path (i.e do you always eat lunch and are you hiking over lunch) and how much effort the trial will be. A little trial and error before you go is key here!

A few things I have learned:

  • If you took it the last couple hikes but didn’t eat it, don’t pack that thing again. That’s carrots for me, not a carrot + hiking fan.
  • Chocolate covered anything is not the way to go for summer hikes – if it’s your lifeline, keep your chocolate contained, like M&Ms.
  • If you need utensils to eat it, reconsider. Leave the pudding and salad at home.
  • If you are walking over 15km, make sure you have something salty – nuts or trail mix are my go to.
  • After 20km, carbs do not count – eat the carb things guilt free!
  • Pack things that can take a beating – go for the Granny Smith apple over the banana.
  • Take things that won’t create a huge burden to pack out. Orange peels VS a snack pack container.
  • Pack it out. Even if it’s biodegradable – that apple didn’t grow there so don’t leave it there!
  • Check the best before date and maybe keep it in mind. The Sport Beans I scavenged out of my first aid kit when I hit the wall yesterday may have expired June … 2019. Still good?!

Gear training …

The feet were feeling good yesterday. You know you have exceeded your days distance when it feels like your feet have their own pulse (aka dogs barking) – didn’t happen for me yesterday so yahoo feet!

A couple of hot spots in my usual suspect places so I blame my feet not the footwear and these I can proactively compeed. Compeeds seem to be the best blister solution for me of all I have trialed – and I have trialed many! I did give Leukotape a go on this hike without success but I have another technique I can try with it before I give it a fail. Compeeds are expensive so even if I can get to a Compeed and Leukotape combo that would be cheaper and save me from reaching for the duct tape as an extreme measure. For someone who loves hiking, my feet did not get the memo.

Confirmed I most definitely am happiest when I have a gaiter like solution in place. What? Let me explain. I get a lot of snakes in my boots. Aka rocks and grit bits that find there way into my boots and that is a recipe for blisters. Every time a bit gets in my boot, I say ‘I have a snake in my boot’ in my best Toy Story, Woody voice. Yes, every time it happens – not annoying at all. So I need a way to keep them out so I am less annoying and, most importantly, I don’t have to stop and fix my feet every 20 feet. Introducing gaiters!

Yesterday I was able to use my Bewilder tights over my boot top like a gaiter and it worked amazing! I like that it was breathable and stretchy. But I won’t be wearing long tights every day so need a stand alone gaiter solution and don’t prefer my waterproof Outdoor Research ones in summer weather. Based on how good a fabric solution felt during my tights trial, I have ordered the Montane sock-it gaiters that I can wear everyday boot or shoe and they are largely stretchy fabric! See ya snakes, find someone else to hitch a ride with.

Of course my hike yesterday was also just about hiking. Feeling the miles stroll past you and taking in all the sights and smells and green and nature and wow. Here are some pics of all that too to wrap this up!

Brandé

PS 17 Sleeps

Offa’s Dyke Path – the Deets

Just 25 sleeps until I depart for Wales and kick off my next adventure, the Offa’s Dyke Path. So excited! Thought it would be a good time to share a few details about the Path and my hike.

What is this Offa’s Dyke Path?

  • 177 mile / 285 kilometer national walking trail in mostly Wales – considered strenuous and undulates (my favourite hiking word) continuously.
  • The path runs the length of the English and Welsh border, crossing over the border many times (I walked the English and Scottish border – Hadrian’s Wall – in 2008. Once I complete this path I will have walked the entire land border of England! Cool)
  • Lonely Planet ranks this Path as one of the world’s greatest walks. (I will decide that for myself but it does bode well for my adventure)
  • The Offa Dyke is the longest and most ancient monument in Britain.
  • The Saxon Monarch, aka King Offa, is due credit for building the Dyke as a natural border rampart between Wales and England.
  • The Offa’s Dyke Path runs beside or on top of the rampart and was declared an official Path in 1971.
  • There are many intact or ruins of castles and abbeys along the route.
  • Offa’s Dyke Association advises the Path passes through one Natioanl Park, three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and at least two Environmentally Sensitive Areas.

What is my hiking plan for this Path?

  • Walking North (Prestatyn on the coast, literally on the beach) to South (Chepstow) – this way I am closer to the start of Cotswold Way the hike in England I am doing a couple days after I finish this one.
  • Average walking distance a day is 19km – longest day is 26.5km and shortest is 13km. Hoping that shortest day gives me opportunity to laundry of my stinky, sweaty hiking gear – that will depend on what town I staying in that night of course.
  • A few sections are giving me some chest pain and I have not even started … specifically wide open, thin trails on the side of steep scree (aka hill of broken rock and gravel). The fear of heights is strong in this one but I am sure if I could to Pembrokeshire Coastal Path on the edge of 70 foot cliffs in gale force winds for 16days I can do some short scary bursts on this Path. Insert hopeful face here.
  • Except for a few nights, I walk from accommodation to the next accommodation and most are just a few km off the actual Path. This adds to the length of my walk each day but it’s pretty exciting to just walk ‘home’. On the days I don’t walk ‘home’ I just call the place I am staying for transport – hopefully from a pub 😉
  • The Path can be tackled in 5 days if running (an annual running competition proves this) but walking it is usually tackled in 12 – 14 or more days. I am going for 14 days short enough to keep some pep in my step but long enough that I am not racing to the finish line each day to arrive before the pub stops serving food. A long hoof followed by only a cold granola bar and an apple at night is a sad end to a day, lived experience!
  • I am doing the Path on my own … sorta! Eeek this is the really exciting part. After Offa’s Dyke Path, I am meeting my long distance hiking crew Shar (sister) and Cheryl and Rosa (our besties) in England to walk the Cotswold Way – more on that later. Cheryl, trail name Impossible Turtle, is so excited to get her boots on a path, and see castles, she is joining me early and is going to do the last 6 days of Offa’s Dyke Path with me! Doctor Boots (me) and Impossible Turtle getting it done.
  • This amazing company called Anglessey and Wales Walking Holidays have done ALL the work for this one y’all! They have booked all of my accommodations (including making a big change when we added Cheryl – yahoo!) and arranged my transports and luggage service and everything. Wow!

My plan is to do a short good morning video on the Running for the Gate Instagram account from the Path each morning before I start out, and then wrap the day up with a blog post and some photos at night. So loads of details coming your way about this amazing Path! Stay tuned.

Brandé

Losing Stars on Yelp

Tuesday’s hike was amazing, wonderful and absolutely, totally fear factor for this gal! The rest of our merry band had no issues of course but this ‘scaredy cat of heights’ had to resort to full Gollum (crawling on all 4s) for a good hour+ … here are the details:

We woke up in the morning and had a great eggs and toast and granola breakfast with fabulous coffee and by 9am our crazy crew was out the door the bottom of Gros Morne Mountain. Today the new addition to our band, Amy and Sheldon, are joining us for the fun! We met them at the mountain for 930 and off we hiked!

The path was beautiful instantly – wow! Lots of rocks and roots to step over, some muddy muck and built in boardwalks! Beautiful! I was feeling like I could hike this thing all day – my favorite kind of trail!

At about 4kms into this 16km hike we came out of the tree filled path into the rock gully. The very steep, crazy, uphill, hell gully we would be climbing the rest of the way to the top! Ok so not all of us considered it hell – for me it was though and I had to crawl most of it on all 4s! The pictures do not do justice … to showing you what I can only imagine is a great view or showing you just how steep the ascent really was but I promise you it was super sketchy! My favorite part was the snow pack on the way up – slick, icy snow on a steep hill where you could slide to your Gros Morne death. So the very best!

At about 8km we finally made it to the top – let’s be clear most folks were there before me. Seems crawling takes longer than walking. I felt sort of bad as I had the lunch sandwiches in my pack but also vindicated as I was confidently advised the trail would not be a problem for my fear of heights so making them wait for sustenance was a little payback lol. Stick with Nick (our ‘travel guide’) was losing stars on Yelp with every Gollum-like crawl I had to complete … at one point his fake guide company we made up received a rebrand to Nick the Trick!

Once at the top, we toasted the ascent with a massive shared can of local brew and the sandwiches I trudged up in a crawl. The fog was even thicker on top – making the lunch stop a little cold but also eerie in a really cool way! Still recovering from the gully of satan I was giving this hike a thumbs down!

After a short break and before the fog and cold seeped into the bones – we started to make our way down. We walked clear across the top (the shape of which Chauncey, our resident comedian and mechanical/wood working Rain Man, described as a bread bun) on well makes rock paths and boardwalks – so cool. If you were any more than 50feet apart you might as well have been alone though, the fog just swallowed everything up!

The Yelp stars were going up on Yelp again for Nick our friendly, neighborhood guide with this cool on top stuff. I loved the random built in boardwalks – felt so good to get a full stride in after crawling about for a couple hours! On the initial part of the descent down the back side of the mountain we even came across a random ‘staircase to nowhere’ – so cool!

From there we just continued down and around the mountain for another 8km – it felt like the longest 8km ever, ever though I have to tell you. I think the heart rate of 270 up the gully climb made me pretty tired for the downhill. I felt a little like an overlooked noodle but the company was fabulous! A 8km hiking conversation among me, Shar and Cheryl was like coming home … we just needed Rosa! (We missed you Commander Butter)

We started out at 936am and wrapped up at about 530pm and could not have been more thankful. Sheldon and Amy provided some yummy homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies at the finish line, Amy chucked her super muddy and now fully worn out sneakers (my boots should have probably followed) and then we set off for Rocky Harbour for some eats and a pint!

What a day! What a trail! What a crew! I would hike any day, anywhere with these geeks but next time I am picking the trail!

Brande

PS want to know what the dinner bun (aka Gros Morne Mountain) actually looks like without all the pea soup? Here you go – the arrow marks our route! This picture was taken the day after the hike.

Soggy Bread in My Pocket

We arrived safe and tired and happy on Sunday at the beautiful St. John’s Airport! What a fabulous airport – all blues and tiles and so clean!

We were greeted by our hiking and shenanigans crew – Charmaine and Nick, and Cheryl and Chauncey. A, for the most part, a bunch of born and raised Newfoundlanders! Great tour guides!

We left the airport in our rocking Red Ford truck (thanks mama and papa Newfoundland) and made our 7+hr drive all the way across the island – literally east to west coast! Amazing! A stop at Mary Brown’s, the signature fried chicken chain on this rock (mmmmm) and we arrived in Gros Morne around 6pm! Shar and I after our red eye did pretty good on route with only a couple of pass out cat naps on route!

We grabbed some groceries … stocked up with a little Screech and made our way to our oh so cute Air BnB. (Ok for real no I did not buy this Screech)

Our place in Norris Point, a wee baby town in Gros Morne, is adorable. Three bedrooms that are so cute and a fabulous view of the harbour and table lands – more on that to come!

We headed up the road to the only place open for eats on a Sunday at this time – Rudy’s Pub! A quaint little pub / convenience store / gas station. They had only Coors on tap and only fries, chicken tenders, onion rings and mozzarella sticks on the menu – a round of each please! Shar sweet talked the lady and she made some deep fried pickles happen too … we needed something that resembled a salad!

A game of banagrams, a pint and deep fried dinner and we were set!

After dinner a little walk about the harbour was in order. What a sweet little place we are staying so many amazing little boats and such!

Exhausted we played a few games of cards and some pints at your rental cabin – and then to bed. Oh when I hit that pillow I was out!

Up on Monday morning feeling so excited to see this amazing province we had some granola, yogurt and berry breakfast and some fabulous coffee – thanks to the great coffee cook off, judges are still held up on final decision!

From there, ready to hike, we headed to Tablelands – wow! It’s just a short 4km hike but it is on the one place in Canada where the mantel is above ground! Amazing!! It was raining and we did not care one bit – rain gear on and smiles on our face!

Oh and while at the Tablelands we saw the Newfoundland & Labrador flower! It’s carnivorous… the flower draws bugs in which drop into the tube shaped leaves and yum yum!

From there we headed to a boat tour which also included a hike – about 3km each way to the dock which made me happy! We had to race to the boat on the way out as we were cutting it tight and it was so worth hoofing it. The tour was $65/person for a 2hour of the fjords and I was keen to see the cliffs from the water! It was foggy as all heck but whatever the eeriness of fog on a boat we knew would still be so great!

(Queue the Jurassic Park theme song! Shar has the t-Rex roar on her phone from Jurassic Park and played it for us – hilarious!)

Oh and it was so fabulous .. the most best part was the tour was cut short at about the 1.5hour and they gave us a full refund! Whaaat!

On our hike bike we took this awesome detour to Snug Cove – another fabulous bonus to this adventure! I loved this detour and it only added a few km to our 3km hike!

After the hike and some showers, we heading out for supper at Fisherman’s Landing in Rocky Harbour! Shar and I ordered local pints and shared 3 local inspired dishes – cod au gratin, bacon wrapped scallops, and roasted moose meat with mashed potatoes and gravy. All local mmmmm

From there it was back to Norris Point for some games and a pint then to bed! Oh and I was ready to sleep after a long day and a time change 4.5hours later than home for me.

Tomorrow I will share today’s hike – so great!

Brande

PS. Why bread in my pocket? Well in these lands if you don’t want a fairy to steal you … bread in your pocket or wear something backwards when walking in the woods!

Packing Lighter Than Expected

Of course sitting at the airport with just a short week ahead of me in Newfoundland, I have only carry on … my trusty Missy Morado (yes she has a name) 35L osprey and my soft ‘purse’ Osprey will get me through this most amazing of adventures!

So what is packing lighter than you expected title about then? Well this morning playing with our new, crazy pup Bella Bean Pup Pup … I literally tore my pinkie toe nail off right to the raw, flesh core. I have photos of course but know that only my twisted sister Hailey, bestie Lana and hubby Lance would want to see them so I will spare the rest of you the gore.

Needless to say this is not the best timing … I am heading to hike in 90% humidity Newfoundland where it is slotted to rain EVERY day we are there and I have my raw toe in a boot all day. Can you say fungus and bacterial infection kids?

What is there to do? Well suck it up. Really! Got me some first aid supplies (it pays to have an expert foot wound care nurse on your friends list for advice!), a decent pain threshold and a sense of adventure greater than a gaping wound. Yah!

Found my way to the airport, ordered a pint and focused on the fun of a flight x3 ahead and a new Young Adult Fiction book to read all washed down with a pint … and fizzy water of course – I do need to be hydrated to fight the infection! Oh for those of you all caught up on the YA Fiction reference – no judging. I am just done a 20-30hr a week Academic writing class and this brain needs some Fairy world teen romance and mythology to cleanse it of citations, argumentative clauses and naysayer statements.

A small part of me thinks that walking for a week in foot pain is my way of bringing Lana along for the trip! For those of you who have read about our Kilimanjaro and Camino adventures here on the blog you will remember Lana comes with a fantastic sense of humor and horrendously misbehaving feet! Poor thing. Every step in pain Bean (Lana) is like we are on the Camino again together!

Ok off to board my first of 3 overnight flights – super bonus … I get on the next 3 with my sister Shar once I land in Calgary. Not so super bonus … this flight is delayed and now lands 2mins before the next one boards. I may need one of those little golf cart things! Hold the door Shar! ( who didn’t just think of GOT Hodor? )

I will check in again once we hit Newfoundland!

Brande

Follow Nick … in Newfoundland

If you recall, last year I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Scotland and hike the Arran Coastal Way with my sister and our two besties for my 40th birthday. Well, this year I get to hike again in celebration of a 40th – but not mine this time. You can turn 29 a bunch of times but sadly when you get to 40 the clock keeps ticking, no mulligans or do-overs or re-dos or age fibs! The next number is 41 for me but not for Cheryl, she is the big ole 4-0 and we are hiking… Gros Morne Mountain National Park in Newfoundland – where she and her family hail from. Bucket list! Pinch me.

Gros Morne is the park featured on the Royal Bank app and in the Fly Over Canada experience (these references are likely lost on anyone who has never visited Canada or been to Vancouver, BC) and every time I see this park in pictures I long to book my flight and go .. well, now I get to go! A few pics compliments of the Government of Canada, Gros Morne Mountain National Park website …

I do not have much runway on this trip.  I depart in just 20 sleeps so I am in ‘hardcore training’  and ‘fit into my technical gear/clothes after a long winter’ mode .. all made easier (or at least more entertaining) by my new training partner, Bella Bean Pup Pup – our new Jack (insert Jerk) Russell puppy.

Bella is still leash training and a little too young to be hitting any major trails in the mountains that we are so lucky to have all around us here in Vancouver, BC so we have been sticking to hill and trail walking in our neighbourhood. We have an abundance of both just out our front door and they have served me well many times for previous trips.   So with my backpack on my shoulders,  my boots on my feet –  yes the ones I keep telling myself I will get rid of after just one more trip – and my Bella at my side we hit the hills daily.

This will be great practice for me. Before I go I get to follow Bella around and it sounds like when I get to Newfoundland I will follow Nick around.

Who is Nick you ask? The hubby of one of Chery’s sisters and it sounds like I do not need to do any trip pre-planning, route selection, etc – Nick is taking care of it all and I just have to show up with boots, water and follow Nick.

If you have ever read this blog before you know that planning is my superpower and anxiety / overthinking buster so this is going to be a whole new experience for me … a new province, a new bucket list item and a new map/trail guide (aka Nick). Nothing to worry about really, in the big scheme of things I should be more worried about getting ‘screeched in’ than following some guy I have never met in a place I have never been.

Brande 

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