If one is thinking about a trip to The Rock, a few items need to be on any packing list.
- A good and sturdy pair of walking shoes. I'm not talking about your basic gym shoes here. These need to be all-weather, ankle-supported, excellent traction, comfortable footwear. You will not be walking the city streets of Europe here. Without decent foot-coverings you might find yourself sliding down an embankment in Elliston or puddle-jumping in St. John's. I have never been so happy with a pair of shoes as I am with my new Merell hikers. I could do a commercial for them. (And I just might!) They have saved me several times over the past week.
- Warm clothing that can be layered to accommodate the ever-changing weather patterns. When we left Glovertown this morning it was sunny and hot. When we arrived at the ecological reserve at Cape St. Mary's this afternoon, it was foggy, gusty, drizzling, and chilly. Several layers and a light pair of gloves were a godsend.
- An all-weather windbreaker is an absolute must. (A hood is a great idea too.) Besides the obvious warmth factor, the jackets have provided protection against rain, mist, intense, wind, and cool fog.
All of the above played important roles in our trip and hike out to Cape St. Mary's to view the natural nesting habitats of several of Newfoundland's native birds. The 1.5 km path, while mostly flat, does have its share of rocky hills and divots, and the entirety of the walk out to the cape is littered with sheep shit. It is almost as if the sheep that were grazing on either side purposefully meandered over to the path to relieve themselves so that we two-legged mammals have to run an amusing gauntlet so as to avoid their excrement. Those aforementioned Merells allowed me to venture off the path from time to time so that I might keep from stomping on sheep pies. Twin Son's Better Half was amazed at the idiot girls wandering out in flip flops. That could be an unholy mess.
The intense weather picked up the closer we got to the cape. (By the way...for all those concerned...this is NOT Hurricane Arthur. That is hitting the west side of the island and Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. We may get some residual rain tonight, but this is just normal Newfoundland weather.) The wind gusts were mighty enough to blow us off the path several times, and the fog and drizzle intensified with each step. Twin Son lost vision in one eye because his glasses got so foggy. Hikers walking back warned us to stay far enough away from the cliffs when we got there. They said they were almost knocked over and since none of us flew like the gannets we were hoping to view, the warning was well heeded. Our windbreakers were key to this adventure. The hoods allowed us to keep moving and kept us relatively dry.
It is hard to fathom why we would push on through such mess, but there was method to our madness. The nesting grounds at the cliffs are a wonder to behold. Northern Gannet, Murres, and Black-Legged Kittiwakes were all in abundance and their nests visible. It is a natural beauty unlike any I have ever seen and worth the walk even in such inhospitable weather.
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. You just have to be prepared for whatever Newfoundland throws in your direction.