NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Sugarloaf Path - Hiking with Leonards

Well you know I was excited when I talked my brother-in-law Jim and his wife Donnie into joining me for a hike on the East Coast Trail. How could it get any better?  Add another Leonard and now it was a party!

Jim's attempt at a group selfie at the Trailhead

Even though we were on the trail by 10:30 the light was already pretty harsh and the photo that the passerby took of our group was completely unusable no matter how I tried to fix it in Photoshop.  So, here's the trailhead sign without the Leonards.  We went as far as the Bawdens Highland and back, but must have taken a few side paths because Donnie's watch showed we hiked 5 kilometers total.

sign need a bit of paint!

The Sugarloaf Path starts at the parking lot in Quidi Vidi at the end of East White Hills Road. It's uphill all the way to the highland, but not too bad at the start with pretty views of the cozy village of Quidi Vidi.

Quidi Vidi Brewery is the large green building

Quidi Vidi Brewery has a Kitchen Party every Friday night with live music starting at 6:30 and we all made a vow to get together some Friday night soon and check it out.


See the red spot circled in the picture above?  That is 4 hikers who have almost made it to the Bawden Highlands.  Yikes, we have a ways to go!

Alverna's dog Zeus looks on as Donnie gets silly

 But that didn't stop us from stopping at every viewpoint and even goofing around a bit!


Anyone who knows the Leonard Clan will tell you that Wayne's sister Alverna is the silliest of them all.  Here she is below belting out "Here she comes... Miss America!" as I make my way up the trail.


 Signage was pretty good, but keep an eye out as there were many side trails to viewpoints and even a bike trail that intersects the ECT here.  I've come to discover that their trail marker is a black and white post at intervals where it's easy to lose the path.

East Coast views on the East Coast trail

As we were nearing our destination one of those bikers came coasting along the rocky edge of the cliffside.  We were all quite amazed at his nerve!


 The temperature was 70F/21C, quite warm when you're clambering up rock, so every time a breeze sprang up we'd take advantage of the opportunity to dry off.  When talk turned to night-time dreams I mentioned that sometimes I dream that I just "lift off" and float around, looking at all there is to see below. Wouldn't that be fantastic?

Ready for lift off

Most of the hike is on the exposed hillside but we did have a short section of woods before the final ascent up the wooden staircase.  Donnie and I noticed that the Blue Bead Lilies are starting to get their blue beads so my next hike will probably feature pictures of them, as well as lots of blueberries!  Don't eat the blue beads, they are not the same as blueberries and I believe are poisonous. 

Likely wet after a heavy rain

 I didn't count the steps as I brought up the rear of the group, but I was pretty winded when I reached the top so maybe it's a good thing not to know.  I always prefer a trail that climbs upwards without stairs, maybe it's my short legs or maybe it's that way for everyone.  Feel free to chime in below in the comment section on your preference!

Alverna yells "Sweet Genie in the garden!"
when she sees all those stairs

At the top we took in the views of Quidi Vidi and St. John's, and chatted with other hikers.  Donnie had amazing snacks as always, so I don't know why I look so cranky in the photo that someone took for us.

Donnie, Me, Alverna and Jim pose with Alverna's dog Zeus

Ahh, that's more like it, a smile!  Oh, and Alverna sticking her tongue out behind my back because she knew I'd be looking at the camera and not at her!


Hiking with Leonards was great fun, hopefully next time we can get Wayne to tag along!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

May the Wind Always Blow at Your Back - Bay Trip Part 6

Before we knew it the weekend was over and it was time to leave.


Two days and two nights went by so quickly!  


One of Wayne's brothers laughed when he loaded his portable 2 room shower tent into the boat, but no one was laughing when they got to rinse all the sweat and dirt off in privacy with warm water.


Of course Vader was happy to just take his bath in the ocean.

What remains of the boardwalk

Remember the remains of the boardwalk along the shore in St. Anne's? I found a picture of a similar boardwalk from Dunville that gives a good idea of what it probably looked like.  Dunville is just a 10 minute drive from our house, so a cool find for two reasons!

Credit: The Rooms archives https://www.therooms.ca/


I learned that I needed a better pair of rubber boots for outdoor life in Newfoundland with all those low shrubs and wet marshes.


And I learned that unless I was on an ATV road or the East Coast Trail that I might want to wear long pants with my hiking boots even in the summer...

bruised and scratched, but happy

I don't remember if the wind was at our back when we made our way back across Placentia Bay, but the sun was out and it was less windy than on our way in so we made good time and saw more wildlife.

They call Cormorants "Shags" in Newfoundland

We even saw a few Puffins, though I still want to return to Ellsworth to see them there again.


I know we have a lot of work to do out there, but sometimes work is fun and I can't wait to get back!


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Windswept Ruins of the Departed - Bay Trip Part 5


We took the path behind the church for the next leg of our journey, making occasional stops to clear blowdown.

All wait as Wayne works magic with the chainsaw

Eventually we encountered a mechanical problem and had to abandon our efforts...And now we know to bring a few small items in case of mechanical problems!  That's what happens when you buy the chainsaw half an hour before you leave. Still, listen to the chainsaw in the video below, she's lightweight but mighty!


Once we reached the cemetery at the old stone church (for more information see my post from last year here) it was nice to see the headstone my aunts and uncles brought out 15 years ago emerge from the tangle.

My great grandmother Hannah Mae Whittle, her daughter Elizabeth and her son Joe rest here

We have a wharf to build, a spot to clear for the cabin, posts to set for the foundation and a graveyard to restore as best we can.  As we clear the cemetery I am sure we will think of how grateful we are to have come from this place, and how grateful we are to be able to come back to it.



As daunting as the task appears, most of it is just grass and moss.  The trees don't grow very wide in these parts and most of them have been blown down already. But under the trees...hopefully headstones, but I fear many may have been made from wood and will not be recovered.

More blowdown in the cemetery

Out here it isn't uncommon to find multiple names on the same stone, the one below is for Garrett J. Hickey, Anne Hickey and Edmund Hickey.


Though I searched carefully, the St. Kyran's side of the cemetery held few stones that were visible.


For some reason the St. Leonard's side is much clearer and had more stones.  The likely reason is it has had more visitors over the years who have maintained it.

St. Leonard's side

I'm sure I mentioned it last year, but the old cemetery is laid out so that inhabitants of St. Kyran's were buried on the side closer to St. Kyran's and the residents of St. Leonards were buried on the other side of the church closer to their town. 


I'm just now noticing that the same design with two crosses was used on multiple headstones. I'm sure there was only so many designs to choose from.  Where did they get their headstones done?  Probably ordered and then sent over by boat with no roads to any larger towns.


 See the stone on the ground? I'm hoping we'll find a few more underneath the moss which is so easy to pull up by hand or with a short-tined garden rake.


 At this point we were well into mid-day light, making it difficult to get any shots of the remains of the old stone church that burned down pre-1921.

Side of stone church from rear

In the video below all the trees you see are INSIDE the church remains.  There are actually less outside the church, again probably due to visitors clearing the grave sites in the past.


After visiting the cemetery we stopped at Chapel Pond and filled up our water bottles. Then on to St. Leonard's!

Delicious water!

This 16 second video below shows where work on our cabin will probably be happening.  We need to see the survey and the deed to verify the boundaries.


Out in St. Leonards it's easier to imagine where houses used to be, and Jim was quick to point out where he lived and even that there might be remains of the house behind the trees that have grown in.

St. Leonards' hay blowing in the breeze

What timing! It seems our arrival coincided with the Rogers' clan's landing!



We rested on the beach while we waited for them to row ashore, and Vader took a dip to escape all the flies tormenting him.

Get the stick, Vader!

When they arrived I busied myself with keeping the flies off the dog while they swapped stories.  They discussed the pair of bald eagles that have been nesting at St. Leonards and how they had to move their nest after it blew away.  Did you know that when they first leave the nest, bald eagles are not good at catching fish? They learn to hunt by first picking up dead fish along shorelines, and then progress to picking up dead fish floating in rivers and lakes. It may take months for an eagle to become reliable at catching live fish.  But adults can dive at up to 100 miles per hour to catch a fish, and young eagles roam great distances. Florida birds have been spotted in Michigan, and California eagles have traveled all the way to Alaska!

Lots of luck!

Another flying inhabitant decided Wayne's head looked like a good spot to land for awhile.  I'd say he was there a good 10 minutes and he wouldn't disturb it because having one land on you is supposed to be good luck!

That good luck came into play when we got loan of what we needed to fix our chainsaw!  The Rogers clan moved off to explore a bit before heading toward the church, and we gathered ourselves to head back and fix our chainsaw.

Back to St. Kyran's

Before long I heard chainsaw noises behind me and chainsaw noises ahead of me, and by the time we left St. Kyran's the old road was clear once more.


A few final thoughts and photos tomorrow!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Telling Stories - Bay Trip Part 4

My brother-in-law Jim is a wealth of information, and the night before our trip out across the bay he even brought a folder full of papers I have not yet had time to look over.  But I did get a quick eyeful of this map and snapped a photo.


We came into the harbour at Eastern Rock, and you can see Goat Island, Anne's Cove and Green Cove where we stayed at the cabin.  The next morning we got in the boat for the five minute ride to St. Kyran's.

St. Kyran's

St. Kyran's Harbour and the cove are immense compared to St. Anne's. The trees have marched down the hills right to the shoreline, obscuring evidence of prior occupants. We did spot one current occupant at the top of the hill though...

Moose alert!

We tied up to the Government Wharf, and when the fellas lifted Vader up onto the boards he fell right through! Luckily they caught him before he plunged 10 feet down to the water, but we had to be extra careful getting up and out of the boat. 

Time for wharf maintenance!

Entering the woods to begin our walk to the church was a little less dramatic, thankfully.  


Tommy had the ax in hand, Wayne had the chainsaw, and Jim had the memories to get us where we needed to go.


Trimming breaks were quick, but stretched the walk to the church to 45 minutes.  My only wish was that we had taken a little more time to trim the low branches that were sweeping my bare legs!


We broke out into the open a few times, but the sun was so hot that I was eager to get back into the shade!


Here is a map for reference that I hope is fairly accurate of our walk from the wharf to the church.


Jim's stories on these trips make it easy to imagine what life was like in the small community.  Last year he told the story of how his father proposed to his mother in the church when we were standing on the altar.



We approached the church from the beach in a Zodiac and entered on the "St. Leonard's side"  on our first visit to the Church of the Assumption.  This year we came from St. Kyran's and entered on that side like my grandmother would have done when she was a child.


If I close my eyes I can almost see her mother's back as she walks to the church holding her hand, her father carrying her younger sister in his arms perhaps. Of course there is no known picture of either her mother or her sister since her mother died not long after giving birth to her baby brother and her sister died 2 years later.

Rubble underfoot as I made my way to the altar

Knowing we had more time this year I tried to keep an eye out for small details, wanting to tell the story through photographs of the church's battle with the elements over the decades.

A picture of the church left on the altar, year unknown

It's no secret around these parts that most homes have a piece of the church tucked away in a drawer or closet. Some visitors even took boards from abandoned homes to start fires over the decades, helping speed their collapse.  What would it look like here if it had been left completely untouched?

Notice the boards above Jim's head, prior visitors yanked
boards (and other things) off church to take home a memento

One of the details that Jim pointed out was the cement pillars had flecks of white in them because they would have added crushed mussels and scallop shells to the cement when they were mixing it.  What did mixing cement in 1920 in such a remote location entail? Not like they loaded a truck with bags from the local hardware store!


Here's a short video above showing what is left of the Church of the Assumption for those that find video more helpful than photos.


With more time to explore this time around I took a look around the Priest's house but all I saw of interest was the bricks fallen around the chimney.


One of these days I'll be there at sunset and sunrise to take photographs with soft light!


Across from the Priest's house is some of the remains of the Priest's truck. Wayne and Jim enjoyed trying to identify the rusted parts before returning them to their original resting spot.


When time permits we will have to cut down some of the trees and open up the views around the church for other visitors to enjoy.  Maybe we'll find more truck parts!


Out past the Priest's house I wandered across the field, taking note of the cement posts that used to hold the wood fence rails.


At the end of the small meadow was the large two room cellar.


I couldn't even imagine what it looked like filled.  Two families could have lived inside!  As Jim pointed out, it would have been filled with stores to last the winter.  Not everyone had a cellar, and certainly not a basement beneath their homes like we did in the Midwest, so what did they do with their stored food? 


I couldn't live with that question unanswered so I sent a text to Jim! Jim's wife, Donnie, says their home on Red Island had space beneath the house and a small door to access it.  She remembers it well because it was the children's job to push the vegetables deep inside (carrot, potatoes, rutabaga, cabbage and beets most likely) and she hated the job because the sheep wanted to steal the veggies and would block the light in the doorway. She said they also put jelly under the house to set because it was the coolest place without refrigeration.  What we take for granted!

Chapel Pond by the Old Stone Church

Eventually we moved along to the "road" between St. Kyran's and St. Leonards and our visit to the cemetery at the old stone church, but I'll save that for tomorrow.  I hope someday to be telling the story of how we found the old path that goes around the backside of Chapel Pond to the even older cemetery!


If you missed them here are the links for the previous posts in this series:

Getting Across the Bay - Part 1
Wandering St. Anne's - Part 2
Questions About the Past - Part 3