Photo-hike on the Skerwink Trail

The weather has been gray and drizzly since leaving Bonavista, but the forecast shows a brief window of relief. So I b-line it for the Skerwink Trail. It will mean hiking in the late afternoon, but it’s the only rain-free window for the next 24 hours, so I’m going for it. The trail is reported to have some muddy, slippery stretches along the cliffsides, and I don’t want to walk it in the rain.

The Skerwink Trail is a 5.3km/3.5 mile loop that skirts the perimeter of Skerwink Head, between Trinity Bay and Port Rexton’s Robinhood Bay. For what it’s worth, to quote another “listicle,” Travel & Leisure lists the Skerwink in it’s “Top 35 Hikes in North America and Canada.”

The trail is named for the Skerwink, medium sized seabirds who make their summer residence on the coastal cliffs of the North Atlantic throughout the summer months. They make the long voyage to their breeding grounds in the Falkland Islands, making them among the furthest migrating birds. They are also one of the longest lived, with documented specimens living 55 years.

The trail is rated moderate to difficult because of several steep climbs up stairs to reach the top of the Head. However, I would call it more like easy to moderate. If you can climb a couple of flights of stairs, you can do the Skerwink Trail!

Sea stacks, bald eagles, whales, wildflowers, a pond, a beach, and a lighthouse, it’s easy to see how they say it has more scenery per linear foot than any other Newfoundland trail.

Hope you enjoy the hike!

Parking at the Skerwink Trailhead is limited, so get there early, or arrive for a late afternoon hike.

Parking at the Skerwink Trailhead is limited, so get there early, or arrive for a late afternoon hike.

Recommended direction is clockwise for optimum views.

Recommended direction is clockwise for optimum views.

Right away, the trees open up and beautiful tall sea stacks come into view.

Right away, the trees open up and beautiful tall sea stacks come into view.

The side of the Skerwink Head trail facing Rexport Bay is very steep and rugged.

The side of the Skerwink Head trail facing the harbour of Port Rexton is very steep and rugged.

IMG_0308

I keep saying it, but I'll say it again, the water is so clear here!

I keep saying it, but I’ll say it again, the water is so clear here!

I am standing there watching a couple of gulls on the top of this rock, when all of a sudden they take off, and this guy moves in to take their place.

I am standing there watching a couple of gulls on the top of this rock, when all of a sudden they take off, and this guy moves in to take their place as the gulls take off (upper left in photo.)

I decide I'll sit for a while and watch him until he takes off.

I decide I’ll sit for a while and watch him until he takes off.

I try to wait him out, thinking maybe he is hunting.

I try to wait him out, thinking maybe he is hunting.

I finally give up and move on, or it's going to get dark.

I finally give up and move on, or it’s going to get dark.

IMG_0338

There are a lot of stairs along the trail as it climbs up and over the headlands.

There are a lot of stairs along the trail as it climbs up and over the headlands.

The sun is frustrating as it rarely comes out from the cloud cover, yet I can see it just offshore.

The sun is frustrating as it rarely comes out from the cloud cover, yet I can see it just offshore.

Firs differ from other conifers in having erect, cylindrical cones that stand up like candles.

Firs differ from other conifers in having erect, cylindrical cones that stand up like candles.

Lots of up and down on this trail.

Lots of up and down on this trail.

Looks like flying monkeys could come out of this forest.

Looks like flying monkeys could come out of this forest.

Down through the crack...

Down through the crack…

IMG_0361

My bald friend is back, and he's brought a friend...can you spot them?

My bald friend is back, and he’s brought a friend…can you spot them?

A blurry zoom and cropping shows there are two hanging out on the dead tree branches.

A blurry zoom and cropping shows there are two hanging out on the dead tree branches.

As I near the crest of Skerwink Head, the sun makes a brief appearance.

As I near the crest of Skerwink Head, the sun makes a brief appearance.

IMG_0384

Skerwink Head -- Note man on top for scale.

Skerwink Head — Note man on top for scale.

IMG_0389

Skerwink rocks offshore. There are whale spouts out there, but too far for my camera.

Skerwink rocks offshore. There are whale spouts out there, but too far for my camera.

Much of the trail is flanked by what Newfies call "tuckamore," short, thickly matted spruce or fir trees that grow in coastal areas. Though stunted in stature, they may be several decades old.

Much of the trail is flanked by what Newfies call “tuckamore,” short, thickly matted spruce or fir trees that grow in coastal areas. Though stunted in stature, they may be several decades old.

Finally, I have rounded the top of Skerwink Head, and am headed around the other side to Trinity Bay.

Finally, I have rounded the top of Skerwink Head, and am headed around the other side to Trinity Bay.

Fort Point Lighthouse in Trinity Bay

Fort Point Lighthouse in Trinity Bay

The sun drops beneath the cloud layer and lights up the buildings in Trinity Harbour.

The sun drops beneath the cloud layer and lights up the buildings in Trinity Harbour.

IMG_0426

Although I do encounter a few sprinkles, thankfully the squalls remain just offshore. Note two here on the horizon.

Nearing the spot where the loop rejoins the outbound.

Nearing the spot where the loop rejoins the outbound.

Sam White's Cove

Sam White’s Cove

Evening sky reflecting in Farm Pond.

Evening sky reflecting in Farm Pond.

Wild Iris

Wild Iris

Back at the Winnie, parked for the night at the Anglican Church. It doubles as trail head parking every day but Sunday.

Back at the Winnie, parked for the night at the Anglican Church.   The sign says parking is allowed any day but Sunday. It’s a very restful boondock!

Nuthin’ but Puffins!

The chance to see a puffin up close is haunting me, particularly after reading in the Newfoundland Travel Guide that it’s one of the only remaining places in the world where one can see them up close in the wild.  But it means a 30 mile drive back to Elliston in the rain, and still no guarantee. However, the weekend is now behind me, so crowds should have let up. I decide I will boondock at the scenic overlook just beyond the puffin site.  This will give me two opportunities, one later in the evening, and another the following morning if I don’t have success. Continue reading

Bonavista Peninsula — Down the Other Side

After spending the night with whales feeding right outside my window, I am too wired for sleep.  I wake up with the sun, which is quite a feat considering it rises at 5:30am.  After my hike up to the lighthouse in hopes of getting some nice color in the clouds before the ubiquitous fog rolls in, I contemplate a nap.

But the weather forecast shows this to be the most favorable day in a while.  So no crawling back into bed for a few more winks, even though it was only a few hours sleep.  I’ve got to keep moving.  Weather changes fast here on the east coast, Continue reading

Bonavista Peninsula — Up One Side…

Ever eager to keep up my circumnavigation around the island, I move east, clockwise around the perimeter. Newfoundland’s “other” national park, Terra Nova, Gros Morne’s baby sibling sits on the east coast. If you drew an imaginary line across the northern part of the island from Gros Morne on the western side, chopping off all the “fingers and arms” that jut off from the coast, you would hit Terra Nova National Park on the eastern side.

Every national park has a reason to warrant protection and conservation by the National Park Service. In the case of Terra Nova, Continue reading

From a Fogo State of Mind to a New York State of Mind

To say I left Fogo Island reluctantly is a gross understatement.  It’s one of those places where I know I am going to look back and say “Why didn’t I spend more time there?”  But I’ve made a commitment back in Maine at the end of August, so I must keep moving.

I want to stop at the North Atlantic Aviation Museum in Gander as I head east around the island of Newfoundland.  Often referred to as “the lifeboat of the North Atlantic,” Continue reading

Fogo Island’s Juxtaposition

Fogo Island has another side….an intentionally contrasting side. One of art and architecture, where life is lived in the contridiction. And I hate to say it, but also what appears at first glance to be obscene opulence. But I was quick to judge it seems, as it bears further examination.

Mention “Fogo Island,” and those who are familiar will chuckle and ask tongue and cheek, “So did you stay at the Inn?” Fogo Island Inn, built in 2013, a 29 room luxury hotel, is getting a crazy amount of press these days. In fact, just this past month, Continue reading

A Fogo State of Mind

The tourist influx is in full swing in Twillingate, with people racing from cove to cove asking “Have you seen any icebergs?” like it was a game of real life pokemon. It’s an energy that’s hard to describe, but I haven’t felt it since leaving the crowded Bay of Fundy. I’ve come to thrive on the solitude I’ve experienced since being in Newfoundland, and as my friend Ed recently said, “I miss the empty.”  Continue reading

Twillingate: Tire Troubles, Terrible Roads, and Tour Buses

I’ve been eager to get on to Twillingate, southern end of “Iceberg Alley” for some time now, as reports on the Newfoundland Iceberg Facebook group show giant skyscrapers of ice floating just offshore. If Saint Anthony’s holds the lock on iceberg viewing at the northern end of Iceberg Alley, Twillingate reigns as the place to be at the southern end. I’ve been patiently anticipating my arrival in Twillingate, not wanting to rush through my planned stops in between, but eager to finally arrive. Continue reading

The Top of the Bottom of the Earth

A couple of friends and followers asked if I was going to explore further in Labrador…either further north up the gravel road toward Cartwright, or back down to the southern shores of Quebec.   It’s so tempting! Both seem like such beautiful places with so much to see!   I would love to go further in either direction. But I haven’t even scratched the surface of Newfoundland yet, and still need to leave time to explore more of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, since I blew through on my way north.

Wise were the travelers who came to the maritimes earlier in the year, as one could certainly spend months up here without running out of places to explore.  Already, I am trying to figure out how I will fit it all in. Continue reading

The Viking Trail to the Big Land of Labrador

My northernmost point on the island of Newfoundland is L’Anse aux Meadows, UNESCO World Heritage site at the end of The Viking Trail.

If one is to write an honest blog, it sometimes means confessing to one’s ignorance.  Prior to my visit to L’Anse aux Meadows, my knowledge of Leif Erikson was relegated to high school history class when Leif was used as an example of a “patronym,” the naming convention of a person’s surname being based on the given name of one’s father.  Leif Erikson was “Erik’s son,” son of “Eric the Red,” who was credited with discovering Greenland. Continue reading