This is an initial, quick summary of what this trip has meant for me.
- Adaptability & Focus
Getting all my luggage lost while flying in, waiting for it for a few days to eventually take action to save the trip by building a whole new kit from scratch based on the limited resources of a small Newfoundland town. Reproduce the work of months in a few hours’ buying frenzy.
- Gear is just a tool
Setting out in a very demanding project with low-end gear that I’d be using for the first time and feeling fine about it. When the whole trip seemed to be at stake, all the rest (gear, colour of my nail polish…) wouldn’t matter. Anything would work.
- Being truly alone on the trail
I have only met other hikers in the final 2 days of the trip, when I was travelling along the mildly popular Long Range Traverse. I have spent a grand total of 5 full days without seeing another human being.
- Off the (beaten) path
The core of this trip was through trail-less wilderness. I’d only hike on a trail for short access sections or over dirt/tarmac to link different areas.
- Impromptu paperless navigation
The only paper maps I could get locally to replace those in my lost pack where too wide scale and not suitable for proper navigation. I needed to promote my smartphone to the role of primary navigation tool.
- Big time wildlife
Moose are all over the place, I’d spot some almost daily. Caribou would come over to check what I was before deciding they’d rather leave quietly. Hoof prints would be a constant presence. It was great to share time and space with such beautiful animals.
- Sense of connection with myself
Being on my own, over very rough terrain, with little hope of anyone else passing by and no means of calling out for help (my beacon was lost with my luggage) provided the need for a deep sense of what I was doing.
- Real wilderness
In Newfoundland, Wilderness is not just a name or an adjective, wild areas are not tamed by human activity. Wilderness is what the place is.
- Heavyweight backpacking
A 3 kg tent and a 1+ kg bag: packing heavy, old school gear was for me a lost art that I needed to recall. It did feel heavy and it did the job. I still need to weight everything to be fully aware of the extent of my great feat.
- Mindset is everything
As if I didn’t know already but it’s always reassuring to get further proof and I found it in the maddening, impenetrable Newfoundland bush: I had a really bad time when I tried to hurry it, it went surprisingly smooth when I took it easy. Get frustrated by the slow progress or just simply do progress, your choice.
- Physically close, emotionally far away land
Newfoundland is as close as North America gets to Europe, yet it feels much farther away than it really is. Newfoundlanders themselves feel that way.
- Newfoundland hospitality
I’ve found great, hospitable people everywhere I’ve been in the world but Newfoundland takes this some step further. It does so naturally, it’s just the way it is.
- Walking over geologically unique land
Wide areas of the Lewis Hills, Blow-me-Down, North Arm & Tablelands come straight out of the earth’s mantle. Feel like hiking in Mars.
- 20 km/day is the new marathon pace
2 km/h was about average most of the time, down to 1 km/h if there was lots of bush walking involved. No amount of swearing seemed to help.