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  1. #1
    StrungUpNewfoundlander's Avatar
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    Terra Nova Canoe Trip

    The trip was the group’s second annual canoe trip. Last year, we canoed the Gander River (Newfoundland) from Glovertown to Gander Bay and the intention was to repeat it in 2019. However, we felt that the water levels of <40 cubic metres per second would be too low, given last year the river was ran at almost 140 and so we adjusted plans to paddle into the central area of Terra Nova National Park. This was to be a much more leisurely affair. Entrance was through Sandy Pond where there’s a good beach, complete with swimmers and canoe/kayak rentals. Once we passed through this water, we were into the ‘back country’ (as defined by the park) and were generally far from the Madding Crowd.

    It’s important to note that though this trip mentions ‘ponds’, most of these are of lake size. It’s a peculiarity of Newfoundland parlance to call just about anything a ‘pond’.

    With the lessons learned from the previous year regarding canoe transportation (the drive on the highway was more thrilling than the whitewater), and without the need to take multiple vehicles as this would be a ‘boomerang’ trip – in and out – we managed to get both boats, four paddlers, and all the related gear in and on one truck. The gas mileage was horrendous.



    Parks Canada were a helpful bunch but there’s certainly a difference between adventuring within the park than without. Camping permits, fees, fire bans, fishing permits. Not bad, just different. So, a half-hour or so of paperwork and a few hundred bucks and we were all legal and ready for the off. We loaded our canoes out amongst the beach revelers who no doubt wondered why these guys seemed to struggle so much carrying their coolers. Must be heavy…what could it be? Some knew….



    The paddle through Sandy Pond was quick and then we hit the shallow stream leading to Beachy Pond, on which was located our first campsite. There’s a well-defined portage route of about 800m that bypasses this stream but we were fully loaded and decided we had enough water to line and push the canoes through. There was some lifting, some scraped ankles, plenty of sweating but we got through and certainly felt that this was the easier option compared to doing laps of the portage route to take everything through. Morale was high and we lightened the coolers by about 2kg to celebrate our avoidance of the portage. We then contemplated celebrating the lightening of the coolers but this philosophy would produce a vicious cycle and so contented ourselves with the idea of setting up early and getting to some of those sausages we had lugged in.
    Rounding the final corner of the stream all unsecured hats flew off heads. Beachy pond is not particularly long but the wind was barreling down it into our faces and the whitecaps were somewhat ominous.

    Risk Assessment:
    • Wind was high, waves were ‘kinda’’ high (‘kinda’ being the only adjective the whole group could agree upon)
    • We had to paddle perpendicular to the waves for a period on the near shore which might be tangly
    • Dumping would get some people’s gear wetter than others – some were fully dry-bagged with others only having the essentials secured
    • If we dumped, we’d be blown ashore as we were skirting the leeward side the water was rather warm


    Doing it!




    Like most things, easier than expected but you’ll note the conscious identification of the hazards and weighing of the risks. More on that later. We rounded the leeward shore and were now heading up the side of the pond where the very ‘general’ map provided to us seemed to indicate the campsite was located. Much discussion was being had about how we’d successfully paddled the lee shore and we’d have to celebrate that. And then we’d cook up those sausages and celebrate that. And set up the tents (and my hammock) and celebrate that. And we’d forgotten celebrate unloading the truck. This was gonna be good. We paddled up the shore and started to enter Dunphy’s Pond. This wasn’t right. The campsite was supposed to be on this shore in Beachy Pond. We pulled an about turn and headed back down, closely scrutinizing the shoreline. Nothing. We were back at the portage. Being that we were still in mobile phone range, we called the park office and got some contradicting directions on locating the campsite. Finally, we were put through to the warden who directed us to proceed through Beachy and into Pitt’s Pond but we were indeed on the right shoreline so we didn’t have to repeat our beam-on to the waves manoeuvres. Up Beachy we went and into Pitt’s and sure enough, about 100m beyond our previous turnaround, was the campsite.

    Naming conventions explained: Sandy Pond is indeed very sandy, all ponds except Sandy are lakes, Beachy Pond doesn’t really have a beach, Beachy Pond campsite is on Dunphy’s Pond.

    We had company. A double kayak was beached at the landing and we soon discovered it belonged to a father and daughter team who were set up on one of the wooden tent pads. Nice people. The other three paddlers in my group set about raising their tent in the light rain that had just come on while I contemplated my hang over one of the tent pads. Tent pads are a problem for hammockers, I feel, as the additional height of the pad off the ground necessarily means higher strap locations on the tree to get the right (35 degree) angle. So, there I was eying the tree options in terms of geometry and found myself having trouble selecting the correct two – appropriate distance apart, putting me reasonably over the pad, and where I could reach high enough to affix the straps – all in the light rain. Decisions made, tarp up, then hammock up.

    On my very first use of my hammock (a beautiful Little Shop of Hammocks Warrior XL), I had misaligned the buckle plates and the whole thing fell slowly to the ground when I first sat in it. (You can read about this trip by searching Linn O Dee on this forum). Ever since, I check the buckles carefully, have a test sit while fully prepared to hit the ground slowly and, once everything is to my liking, I add a half hitch to each strap adjacent to the buckle. This was the phase I had entered and as I sat down and slowly went to ground, in my head I said ‘darn these buckles!’ (ok, maybe not ‘darn’). But it wasn’t the buckles. The loud accompanying crack was the clue and though it all happened behind me, by the time I hit the ground 30 feet of rotten Black Spruce was lying between me and my packs on the tent pad. All campers (my company and the neighbours) ran over expecting death and destruction as they had seen why I hadn’t: a large tree crashing down right on the tent pad where they knew I was making camp. I had just dodged a huge widowmaker and it was by pure luck. It fell completely down a 5 foot corridor between me in my hammock and my packs. When I think of the chance of being impaled by one of the broken branch stubs, I feel ill. This was all my fault and could have been easily avoided had I just looked up. I’m generally a cautious, mindful guy but I had just become so focused on the various geometrical challenges this pad and adjacent trees were causing me that I didn’t even look at the trees. I wanted to get the tarp up first and keep everything dry. When I put my strap on that dead tree, it didn’t even register that it was largely bark-less. Looking at the tree now on the ground, it was very, very obvious that this was a bad tree. I had totally tuned out. And, to refresh your memory, I had only lightened the cooler by 355ml and that was hours beforehand so no, that wasn’t a contributing factor. It was complete tunnel vision on my part and I almost bought the farm as a result. It won’t happen to me again through lack of inattention and everyone who was there, hammocker or not, examined the trees over their heads. Several were either pushed over or tied up and tents were moved. Though this tree fell as I pulled it down on top of me with my hammock, it could have easily fell with some wind on a tent camper sleeping below. Watch Shug’s video on tree safety (I had) and heed it (I hadn’t). I rigged up again on another tree that was it a worse geometric position but structurally sound and celebrated my escape. Cooler lightened again. Sausages.

    I had a great night’s sleep under my LSOH ‘winter’ tarp as the rain fell and the next mornqing saw the departure of our neighbours for home. We held out ground as the rain fell in an attempt to wait it out and cheered ourselves by pondering how much easier getting the canoes through the shallow stream would be on the return journey with the extra water (and lighter coolers). Come mid-afternoon, the sun was out and the winds were still tame and so we pushed on to campsite two: an island on Dunphy’s Pond. We hoped it wasn’t just a clever name and wasn’t actually to be found on the shores of Terra Nova Lake. We made short work of the paddle though we were rather cautious given the wind direction and handrailed the shore. Upon landing at the island, we had it to ourselves.

    What a magnificent campsite this was and it was a very happy and comfortable two days we spent there on our own. I found some reasonable trees to hang from and our survey of potential widowmakers revealed only one of worry that was easily dealt with (a leaning deadfall hung up in one of its neighbours). We explored the area, fished, and ate very, very well – ‘toutons’, for those from away, are a Newfoundland culinary delight all should experience with Fancy Molasses. There was some sport as we concocted various games that involved throwing beach rocks at empty cans. Boyish games but those are some of the best. We were treated to beautiful clear nights and an increased amount of meteors due to the Perseids.



    The paddle out was very pleasant due to the flat calm seastate (an extremely rare occurrence). We saw a caribou, my first in the wild, to add to our list of birds and small mammals sighed on the trip. The stream was not noticeably deeper on the way out, contrary to our earlier assumption.





    But the coolers were empty.
    Last edited by StrungUpNewfoundlander; 08-19-2019 at 10:00.
    Best Kind

  2. #2

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    Great report! thanks for sharing. I had to look up toutons. Now I want someone to make them for me at a waterside campsite.

    Charlotte

  3. #3
    fr0sty's Avatar
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    Well written, thanks for sharing!

  4. #4
    oldgringo's Avatar
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    I am convalescing. I am bored. Thanks for this...great read!
    Dave

    "I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part, and discuss it only with consenting adults". Molly Ivins

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    great trip report, I'm glad the widowmaker missed you

  6. #6
    all secure in sector 7 Shug's Avatar
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    You got very lucky on the tree fall. It is easy to overlook with all the chores going on in camp.
    Bet you will never forget to check and double check your hanging trees and surrounding trees again!
    Whooooo Buddy))))
    Shug
    Whooooo Buddy)))) All Secure in Sector Seven

  7. #7
    StrungUpNewfoundlander's Avatar
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    Glad folks enjoyed the read.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shug View Post
    You got very lucky on the tree fall. It is easy to overlook with all the chores going on in camp.
    Bet you will never forget to check and double check your hanging trees and surrounding trees again!
    Whooooo Buddy))))
    Shug
    You bet, Shug. Eyes to the sky from now on.
    Best Kind

  8. #8
    Senior Member Niagara's Avatar
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    wow great trip write up and glad you are here to tell the tales. beautiful country - thanks for posting.
    Niagara

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