Part 41: International Appalachian Trail (IAT)—Newfoundland and Labrador (IATNL) (Mile 5,275.5 to Mile 5,749.4) Day 271-287

Bound for Newfoundland, I was piqued with much curiosity for what was to come. This was to be the concluding Maritime province of Canada and the last major section of my Eastern Continental Trail (ECT) thru-hike. It was Day 270 and, at this point, I’d walked some 5,300 miles! Newfoundland is a land filled with picturesque rocky coastlines and dotted with weatherworn fishing villages. It’s populated largely by Irish settlers who immigrated to Newfoundland on ships between 1770 and 1780—one of the largest mass migrations in history. The presence of these immigrants is recognized in numerous proper nouns found throughout Newfoundland, as in the case of “Irishtown.” There are also pockets of French Acadians, as well as English and Scottish dwellers, peopling the province.

Gripped with much emotion, I knew in my gut this was going to be among the most remarkable places on earth. It’s not just the hiking; it’s the kind people. Locals here would invite me into their cottage for a traditional moose-and-rabbit supper where Irish songs were strummed and a jolly time would be had by all. Their warmheartedness could heat a room, and their kindness was unlike anything else I’d ever felt. I’d also meet a much heard-of hiker face to face—a Dutch ECT thru-hiker who would bring unexpected hiker comradery to the very end. My hike was about to forever change; it would become less about mile-making (yet still maintaining 30-plus-miles per day!) and more about becoming a part of the land and people and about God’s grace and steadfastness. Communing with nature for such a lengthy time, the interior life of an individual can be transformed forever after. Although hiking Newfoundland would be the finalization of my life’s greatest physical victory, it would also come to mean something much deeper—a triumph of the heart. I’d cross the Gulf of Saint Lawrence to Channel-Port aux Basques and hike all the way up the Great Northern Peninsula. Enabled with the will to persevere and armed with an unstoppable determination, I was about to make my way across a vast stretch of blue sea and enter a Canadian island of dreams.

The seven-hour “red eye” ferry ride from North Sydney to Port aux Basques was, from a hiker’s perspective, one high-class aqua-blaze! To my surprise, MV Highlanders had luxurious passenger areas and an on-board restaurant called The Met. Originally built as a supply ship operating between the United Kingdom and The Netherlands, the vessel was retrofitted for ferry service and became part of the Marine Atlantic fleet in Canada with regular service operating between Cape Breton and Newfoundland. The ship was like a “hotel on water,” holding a thousand people with 96 two- and four-room passenger cabins. Although I did not have a passenger accommodation (“sleeper”), I did have a comfy pleather reclining seat reserved up on Deck 9 with a commanding captain-like view of the St. Lawrence below. In most of the passenger areas, movies can be viewed on large flat-screen televisions. Sitting down, I began studying maps of the Newfoundland section I’d be hiking, but mainly found myself just enjoying the “ferry-blaze” and reflecting upon how far I’d come. Early the next morning, after a few hours of interrupted sleep (due to nearby snoring!), Pitstop and I ate a three-course breakfast. Feeling muddle-headed from the not-so-deep slumber, I walked outside to the weather deck and felt the fresh breeze rush against my forehead as the the ship cut gracefully through the wind-pushed water. The ferry was coming into port to dock.

Taking in my first views of Port aux Basques, I could see colorful little houses and shops peppering the landscape. Bright monochromatic colors, for which Newfoundland is known, are commonly found in colder regions like Canada and Scandinavia, in part to lift up one’s spirits during the drawn-out snowy months. There was a whole spectrum of colors, with splashes of scarlet, turquoise, neon green, flamingo pink, amethyst, aquamarine, and teal. Fluorescents stir the senses and create variety against the greens and blues that make up the natural backdrop. Much of Newfoundland has maintained this colorful tradition. In St. John’s, the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador, a popular neighborhood is called “Jellybean Row,” after its vibrantly colored row houses.

After docking, Pitstop and I walked down to his truck and travel camper in the vehicle-storage area on Deck 3. We’d parked right behind another pickup truck from Quebec hauling stacks of lobster traps. Once disembarked and ashore, Pitstop dropped me off at a nearby waterside neighborhood with a lighthouse beyond. It was in the back of, or just to the side of, some lady’s yard. She waved and was quite amiable considering a random hiker was practically on her lawn! It seemed strange at first, but I used this as my official starting point since my .gpx track did not extend all the way to the water’s edge. The trail soon connected to the official IAT terminus near the old now-defunct train depot. Here there is an unmissable sign that reads: WELCOME TO PORT AUX BASQUES, THE START OF THE NEWFOUNDLAND SECTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL APPALACHIAN TRAIL. I was now on my official route which would lead me all the way north to the IAT northern terminus at Cape Raven near L’Anse aux Meadows. According to the IAT/SIA Council, “After crossing the Gulf of St. Lawrence by ferry, the trail resumes in Port-aux-Basques, Newfoundland, heading northeast along the Long Range Mountains. Adventurous hikers can explore numerous side trails into extremely remote and scenic areas such as the Lewis Hills and Gros Morne National Park. The Newfoundland/Labrador section of the trail ends at L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site.”

The pronunciation of Newfoundland itself is worthy of clarification as there can be much confusion around the word. It’s important to follow local customs when it comes to place names (i.e., toponymns). If you want to blend in with Newfoundlanders (“Newfies”) and not sound like a mainlander or one from afar, it’s pronounced Noof’n-land. Although the pronunciation of a place name may be different from the pronunciation established in one’s home country (this is called an exonym), it is advisable to abide by the conventions of the visited region. A solicitous use and proper pronunciation of a word is a matter of good taste and propriety; in so doing, one presents himself or herself as a cultivated speaker and expresses care and interest in another culture.

The Irish-inhabited regions of Newfoundland are steeped with tradition and ritual. I’d heard much about the strange practice of kissing a codfish before arriving, but I hadn’t a clue as to its purpose or history. When visiting from another land, one can be “screeched in” as an honorary Newfoundlander. The “screech-in” is a ceremony performed on non-Newfoundlanders, known to Newfoundlanders as a “mainlander” or “come from away.” During the recitation ceremony, one is expected to recite local sayings, kiss a cod fish, take a shot of Screech rum, and sometimes taste Newfoundland steak. In return, the person receives a certificate affirming their title as an honorary Newfoundlander. Once asked if they’d like to become a Newfoundlander, the response expected should be an enthusiastic “Yes b’y!” Then, holding their shot glass of Screech, they are asked “Are ye a screecher?” or “Is you a Newfoundlander?” to which the candidates reply without reservation, “Indeed I is, me ol’ cock! And long may yer big jib draw!” This basically translates to “Yes I am, my old friend, and may your sails always catch wind.”

Walking the trailway (decommissioned rail beds), I soon paralleled the Trans-Continental Highway and began a tranquil coastal section alongside the rolling sea. Flocks of white-and-grey seagulls flew overhead, many of them landing in single rows on rocks that were poking out of the sea. Hearing the wailing and squawking calls of distant seabirds literally moved me to tears while walking. Maybe this is because I live in Colorado where there is neither a sea nor sea-dwelling birds! There are few things in life more soothing than viewing seagulls bobbing on top of the rolling water, being carried along by the gentle swells. After the first shoreside section, the trailway moves inland, passing through a dense mixed forest with stands of fragrant pines and groves of aspen. The trail routes over brooks and estuaries, namely the Little Codroy River Estuary, Crabbes River Estuary, Middle Barachois River Estuary, and Robinsons River Estuary. On the trailway, I encountered numerous convoys of ATVs. The dune buggyists and side-by-siders would often zip by me at warp speed; however, most were courteous and administered the longer-than-usual “Canadian wave.” Some riders even offered beverages and cold-cut sandwiches from their styro coolers as they passed. As for hikers, I was alone—really alone; indeed, I saw more bald eagles in Canada than thru-hikers! Rural Canadians like “throttles and bottles,” as one local man put it, and understandably so, given the extensive network of ATV roads and retrofitted train-to-trail bridges. Long-distance hiking is an unheard-of concept in many of these parts and sometimes requires explanation. As I encountered locals, one of the first questions I was always asked is, “You hitch-hikin’?” It’s an innocent question and one in which I enjoy answering. Then again, it makes much sense as there is a long history of this kind of activity in backpacking and international travel. Many passers-by even thought I was out moose hunting, which I found amusing. It must be because my trekking pole resembles a hunting rifle from a distance and moose season had recently begun. Killing a moose with trekking poles would be a first for me! Actually, I don’t think I’d be successful whacking the beastly creature repeatedly over its elongated head, somehow bringing about a slow and painful death to the animal. Attempting such a method would more than likely be a death wish for the pole-armed hiker!

The trailway works back alongshore to the coast at St. George’s. Here I stopped at the general store for a quick pick-me-up and then began my walk to Stephenville Crossing. Once there, I took a dinner break at the picnic grounds across from the Irving fueling station and had a meaty club sandwich and cola. By this time, it was now dusk so I wanted to get away from the residential area; therefore, I mounted my headlamp and proceeded up trail. At this point, the route splits away from the trailway. I walked along Seal Cove Road to the “dead end Main Street” and eventually onto Route 460 where I set up camp for the night. I stealthed behind an overgrown driveway with a rusty red gate that was closed and locked. The place seemed safe enough since no houses or human beings had been seen for miles. Still exercising caution, I wanted to be surreptitious in pitching my tent so as not to be seen in the event someone came along. The only sounds heard were the occasional belching croaks of toads that dotted the highway pavement. Since my tent was back behind layers of thick brush, I was virtually undetectable. On this particular evening, I blended in with the natural environment like a chameleon. What’s more, I adorned the tent roof with a couple ferns for enhanced camouflage. Disguised and alone, I lay my head down and fell fast asleep. About 11:30 pm, well past “hiker midnight,” I was awakened by the noise of a truck engine that had pulled up to the long-abandoned property. The vehicle was idling next to the rusty gate that I had walked around before scouting out a tent spot. Headlights shone brightly amid the pitch-black wilderness. Minutes later, I was alarmed at the sustained blast of a horn. Were these teenagers just screwing around next to the highway or joyriding late at night? Surely no one could possibly know I’m here, right? Then I saw the headlights flicker off and heard the car door open and close. Somebody was getting out of the vehicle! Next I heard footsteps getting closer and closer to my tent. My heart was beating out of my chest. Would the person spot me as he walked past? Was this a private land owner with a shotgun or perhaps a poacher? Maybe a sheriff? If detected, would I be prosecuted for trespassing or squatting? Then, still hunkered down, I saw a shadowy figure only a few feet away from the bug mesh of my Duplex tent. The light beam from a flashlight shone directly upon my now-shocked face. “David, is that you?,” I heard in a low masculine voice. Wait, what? Could it be? Why, yes! It was Pitstop! He’d come to pick me up for my zero day, which had been planned but not until the following day. It was a communication blunder, due in part to my malfunctioning Garmin device which had been acting up. Pitstop tracked my exact location via GPS; he knew precisely where to locate me. “Phew, that was a close one,” I recall thinking as I breathed a sigh of relief. Still coming out a state of delirium, I broke camp and hopped in the truck with Pitstop. We drove an hour-and-a-half away to Cape St. George where I’d get a day off to recuperate and recollect my thoughts. Needless to say, it was a long night filled with unexpected turns and events. We now talk in a joshing manner about the night Pitstop scared the living daylights out of me!

The side-trip to Cape St. George was spectacular. Pitstop had set up his Jayco camper at a free Acadian-run campground situated near the edge of the cape. Abrupt geographical landmasses and cliffs dramatized the viewing experience. The driving winds forced waves to swoosh and crash against blackened seaside cliffs. The Acadian flag was flown proudly on a pole nearby, and a commemorative plaque stood below. A historical brick bread oven was also located on the municipal park property and was available for public baking. In the camper, Pitstop cooked up a delectable variation of his hiker-approved pasta recipe, and I sampled a throat-cooling bottle of 1892 traditional ale brewed in St. John’s. For my next food carry, I resupplied in nearby Stephenville. After my zero day was over, Pitstop dropped me back off at the “spooked driveway” to resume my hike.

The stretch from Stephenville to Corner Brook was quite remote with numerous backcountry trails. Snowmobile warming huts were a common site as were recreational map billboards since snowmobile clubs thrive in this region. In Corner Brook I hung out at the Tim Hortons restaurant across from the paper mill to post one of my trail writings since their Wi-Fi service is so reliable. Tim Hortons and Canadian Tire, both found throughout Canada, offer lightning-fast internet, which is wonderful for hikers. While in Corner Brook, I also picked up a few groceries from Sobeys, located inside the Millbrook Mall. From Corner Brook, the IAT eventually enters Gros Morne National Park.

Only a few miles from the park’s southern boundary, I walked on a dusty road where I passed a property with three small structures on the premise. One of the buildings was a cottage with a woman and three men standing outside talking. They all appeared to be good-natured people and wore noticeable smiles. From a distance, I threw up my hand and administered a “courtesy wave,” as is my usual custom. One of the men, without hesitation, called out, “Care for a drink?” The sun had been beating down on my leathery cheeks. “I wouldn’t mind if you don’t mind,” I replied. The fair-skinned woman introduced herself to me as Sherri, then sat me down on the porch and handed me a cold brewsky. “Here you are, my darling,” she remarked with a thick but tender Irish accent. I began to recount to the four Newfies my thru-hike of the ECT and how I’d come all the way from Key West. Sherri, in her kindhearted nature, invited me to stay for supper. As a food-consuming machine with a wolffish appetite and one who is terrified of “caloric deficits” at the end of a hiking day, the decision to accept the invitation was made without hesitation. Sherri had prepared an old family recipe of slow-cooked moose and rabbit—animals which she hunted herself. The food had already been cooked when I walked up to the property. When I went inside the cottage, a large stock pot of moose and rabbit was heating on the old cast iron wood stove; however, the pot lid was off and laying on the countertop. “Tradition says,” she instructed, “if the pot lid is off and someone walks by, they’ll smell the aroma of food and come and have supper with us.” Sherri, with her sweet Irish voice, explained how the four of them were discussing the “pot lid superstition” when, sure enough, I hiked by and was hospitably invited into the cottage to partake in the feast!

Just when I thought the day could not have gotten any more surprising, I was sitting on the cottage’s porch stair when suddenly, Tin Man walked by! Tin Man is a honey-haired Dutch thru-hiker whom I first heard of back in Florida. He’s the only other person this year hiking the ECT from Florida all the way through Newfoundland. Recognizing my Hyperlite pack, Tin Man came up to where all of us were socializing before the meal. You see I’d met Tin Man on social media several months previously and had made his acquaintance; however, I did not meet him face to face until this moment. Tin Man is his trail name; however, his real name is Sjors (Dutch “George”). Sjors explained to everyone how he was from The Netherlands—a city called Delft, situated between Rotterdam and The Hague. I was honored to meet him as my new ECT hiking companion. Sherri brought out two rubberized yellow fishing hats with the word NEWFOUNDLAND printed on them and had Tin Man and me place them on our heads. We then posed with one another for pictures to cherish the memory. Sherri’s husband was one of the three men and a melodic guitar player. He began plucking away on his dreadnaught and singing old-time Irish ballads. All five of us had a jolly time together with food and song! Inside Tin Man and I sank our teeth into the moose-and-rabbit meal with stew and fall-off-the-bone chicken legs on the side. The “rural banquet” I participated in would make most any hiker forfeit their day of walking! A second helping was obligatory. After the hearty lunch, I signed Sherri’s logbook and headed out with Tin Man so as not to be tardy for the 5:30 pm ferry that was scheduled from Woody Point across to Norris Point. We’d agreed to stick together for the remaining eight days through Newfoundland, and I was thrilled to have a co-hiker after such a long spell of loneliness through the other provinces. The two of us said our goodbyes, shaking hands with much appreciation. “We loved having you, my dear,” Sherri exclaimed as we shared a parting embrace. I felt at home here; it was as if she were my mother from another time. “For such a cold place,” I recall thinking, “there can be a warmth that lasts forever.” As long as I live, I’ll never forget that day.

Back in our saddles, Tin Man and I made it to the water taxi just before the last departure time to Norris Point. The free ferry-blaze took some twenty minutes to cross. From the marina, we walked to the nearby Norris Point KOA where Pitstop had set up for the evening. Pitstop was thrilled to meet Tin Man as he’d been following his ECT journey since New Brunswick. The two of us zeroed with Pitstop the following day, laundering clothes and conducting the usual off-trail chores. That night we dined at a lobster seafood restaurant to celebrate how far we’d walked. Tin Man commented on how he and I looked like “hiker trash,” especially because of my disheveled hair and his crotch-ripped hiking shorts! Wearing a lobster bib and a wide grin, I ate the bright red crustacean, one body segment at a time. The claw meat was worth the menu price alone! The three of us swapped stories late into the night until we eventually collapsed in predictable exhaustion.

For the next seven days, Tin Man and I hiked together, mostly on the 330 km Viking Trail roadwalk (Route 430/436) while also catching up on our ECT trail experiences through the Keys, Florida Trail, Alabama roadwalk, Pinhoti Trail, Benton MacKaye Trail, Appalachian Trail, and International Appalachian Trail. We were back on the coast with expansive views of the blue sea. As Tinman and I meandered up the exposed coastline, food was constantly on our minds and the source of much conversation. We ate a spicy donair pizza at Fisherman’s Landing Restaurant in Rocky Harbour for lunch, a hamburger sandwich and chili dog at Whale’s Back Snack Shack at Sally’s Cove for dinner, and a heaping stack of delectable pancakes at Sunrise Bakery at Parson’s Pond the following morning for breakfast.

The “log economy” is noticeably strong in Newfoundland, as it is elsewhere in Canada; however, much of the logs are harvested at a local and individual level. For $25 CAD, Newfoundlanders can obtain a government permit to clear-cut and store up to twelve truckloads of logs and firewood. During the long winters in and around the Great Northern Peninsula, people depend largely on wood fireplaces to heat their homes. Wooden “log sleds” are attached to trucks, ATVs, and snowmobiles to transport the firewood over the deep snow and slick ice.

Days were often spent searching for “treasure” as I perambulated the coast-following roads. Lobster traps, stacked three and four high, lined entire driveways and ditches. These wood crate-like traps are ubiquitous on the island and can be found in varying designs and colors. I found myself “lobster-blazing” for closer examination of the traps. The practice of “buoy-blazing” off trail was also common as I probed the pebbled beaches for trailside artifacts, especially discarded or lost fishing buoys.

As a hiker facing oncoming traffic, I found the motorists in Newfoundland to be safe and respectful, giving me ample shoulder space. “Newfie Tough” bumper stickers were plastered on some of the pickups that drove past. While hiking the roadways, rubber newspaper boxes for The Telegram were often situated near the homeowners’ octagonal trash barrels. On the roadwalk, stealth camping in the woods was a breeze and the weather mostly cooperated, facilitating high-mileage days.

Thrombolites and other geological features were recognizable in Flower’s Cove. While resting at the Esso gas station, Tin Man and I split an eight-pack of hotdogs and then loaded up on sweet-tasting Wunderbars and Oh Henry chocolate bars. Hiker hunger was as insatiable as ever! Walking still further along the Viking Trail on Route 430, we met the local police chief after he’d passed us multiple times in his squad vehicle. The officer commended us on our foot-traveling accomplishments and was dumbfounded when hearing of where we’d commenced the hike.

The trail turned from pavement to a remote dirt coastal road—what would be the most exhilarating section of the entire ECT! It was a 30 km shoreside stretch that I like to call the “Unfortunate Cove Section,” so-named after a cove we passed with strong tempestuous waves. Here there was an abandoned fishing village almost entirely uninhabited. I felt so far from civilization! There were also four washed-out dirt bridges, one of which required wading through knee-high water. Prior to the wet shoe water crossing, Tin Man and I spotted three river otters swimming together. The otters squealed as soon as they saw us and hurriedly swam out of sight. As we explored the different areas around Unfortunate Cove, I finally found my prized buoy to pack out! It was, silly as it may sound, my most treasured trail discovery! That night, we camped on a cliff overlooking the rhythmic sea. Our tents had been pitched atop a lush green mound. Tin Man and I were calmed to sleep after listening to the water crash against the sea cliffs. Upon reflection, this was my favorite camp spot on the whole ECT. As I was gazing off into the distant waves with seabirds flying patterns below the clouds, somehow it all began to sink in—my long walk was coming to a close.

The trail makes an abrupt turn inland to Route 435 and then reconnects to the Viking Trail on Route 430 and 436. Along the way, stacked log piles could be seen alongside the roadway and little fenced-in vegetable gardens of lettuce, cabbage, and onions were planted right next to the ditches, apparently for accessibility. Steel-meshed containers labeled “Jawbone Drop Box” were placed at numerous intersections for moose hunters to drop the jawbones of their kills. The issued permit tag is rapped around the jaw bone by the hunter prior to depositing into the drop box.

Tin Man and I walked up to Viking RV Park right off trail in Quirpon since Pitstop was staged there with his camper trailer. Here we’d be offered our last instance of “trail magic on wheels” from Pitstop, the ultimate hiker-supporting prestidigitator! Although not a thru-hiker himself, Pitstop, an Air Force retiree, had an adventure of his own. From the time I started in Florida back in December, Pitstop followed me all the way up trail, intercepting me every couple weeks or so to zero in his trailer. This kept me out of costly motels and gave me a place to rejuvenate when there were no nearby hostels. Tin Man and I, just before our final push to the northern terminus at Cape Raven, devoured a weighty Pitstop-prepared beef burrito lunch and caught up on picture-postings using the campground’s Wi-Fi.

Returning to Route 436, Tin Man and I soon came to a hiking footpath known as the Cape Raven Trail. Exiting the highway at Spillars Cove, we climbed an enchanting seaside mountain to the wooden observation deck, formerly known as Crow Head. The sign was stripped and weatherworn, only a blank white surface remained. With pumped-up adrenaline, I tagged the sign. The two of us walked atop the stage-like platform in awe of the surrounding panoramic seascape. We snapped our epic “summit photos” then howled like a pack of coyotes. As Whitman famously described it, we sounded a “barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.” After a brotherly fist-bump, we congratulated one another for end-to-ending the ECT in its entirety from Key West, Florida to Cape Raven, Newfoundland. Running out of land, I’d reached the terminating cliff edge of the Great Northern Peninsula, the geographical ending point of Newfoundland. To provide some perspective in terms of scale, my 5,700-mile thru-hike (9,253 km) represents 23 percent of the earth’s circumference (40,075 km)!

I’d walked further than ever before in my life. It was a physical, mental, and spiritual feat. Although there was no wreath or trophy at the end; there was the internal satisfaction that a distinct accomplishment had been made that no one could ever strip away. Although I’m not an FKTer, ultra runner, or super athlete of any kind, I am an ordinary guy who managed to pull off something extraordinary. Of course, this expedition did not come easy. Early on in my hike, I learned that complaining is one of the most counterproductive forces on this earth. I had to set a clear goal and stick to it no matter how uncomfortable I felt. The fatalistic “if-it’s-meant-to-be” mindset had to be abolished; these were the words of a defeatist unwilling to take the reigns. As a non-conformist marching to the beat of a different drum, I sought to escape the crime-plagued cities and, living among nature, ask the ultimate questions of life. I wanted a fresh look on life with salt-of-the-earth observations—to explore the boundaries of what is known. Foot-powered locomotion enables me to view a fantastic world anew at just the right speed. Living a life of undeterred adventure, in my appraisal, is worth more than an elite career status or even the dazzling worked-for possessions flashed about at retirement. After all, nobody on their death bed ever says, “I wish I’d spent more time at the office!”

After enjoying some time atop Cape Raven and swinging on the wood-seated swingset found near the bottom of the side trail, Tin Man and I blue-blazed a little further on Route 436 to the Norse site in L’Anse aux Meadows. Rendezvousing with Pitstop in the Norstead parking lot, the three of us explored the historical site. There was of course a masted Viking ship and a restored village with grassy rooftop structures that resembled something out of Lord of the Rings, what Tin Man called “hobbit houses.” An enlightening tour through Vinland complete with swords, shields, and costumed villagers conducting Viking re-enactments, made for a lighthearted ending to my long adventure.

Walking on Lacey’s Trail up to the dramatic cliffs of Cape Ardoise, I looked out to the vast sea one last time. A tear of victory was shed, and I thanked God for allowing me to make such a long journey successfully without harm. Belle Isle could be seen beyond on the now-clear day. A small sailboat off in the distance, appearing as but a speck, came into view. The inclement morning weather had moved away; the afternoon sun had shone, burning away the nebulous clouds. The clouds would regather only minutes after our summit. The sun came out at just the appropriate time, for it was meant be—a climactic ending to a multi-act drama.

The trail experience had shaped me in a way no photograph could fully capture nor poet could express. On the way back down, Tin Man released a seashell he’d collected from Key West and had carried the whole way in his backpack. Everything got still. Peace came over me; it was the wind of the Spirit. In a moment of tranquility, I bid my fond farewell to Newfoundland and to the Eastern Continental Trail upon which my feet had trodden for so long. She would be missed! The curtain had closed on the concluding scene, and now it was time to go home.

—David “Outback” Mizer

Total Miles Hiked from Key West, Florida to Cape Raven (Crow Head) L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland): 5,749.4 (9,253 km)

Total Days: 287 (Dec 1, 2021 to Sept. 13, 2022)

The Eastern Continental Trail (ECT) extends circuitously from Key West (“Conch Republic”) in the Florida subtropics to Cape Raven near the L’Anse aux Meadows Norse site in northeastern Canada at the Strait of Belle Isle. If you would like to learn more about this trail or have questions, please visit

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4 thoughts on “Part 41: International Appalachian Trail (IAT)—Newfoundland and Labrador (IATNL) (Mile 5,275.5 to Mile 5,749.4) Day 271-287

  1. Hello David,
    I enjoyed reading about your Newfoundland hiking adventure and commend you on both your accomplishments and beautiful writing style!
    We met you, Pitstop and The Dutchman briefly at a campground at the very end of your journey and I am still awestruck by your incredible feat!

  2. Hi David,

    Wow! What an epic adventure! You’ve inspired me to take up the challenge of hiking the IAPT in Newfoundland myself. I want to know, how many days were you hiking there? And how many kms was it?
    Also I’m curious about food, were you ever worried about not being able to find some?
    I don’t know if I’ll have someone like Pitstop to help me. Do you think it’s possible just to hike it all the way through?

    1. Hey Aaron,

      Outback here. Sorry for the delayed response as I’ve been busy working and saving up for my next big hike! To answer your question, I spent 16 days hiking up the west coast of Newfoundland from Port aux Basques to Cape Raven via the International Appalachian Trail-Newfoundland (IATNF). The total distance was 763 kilometers. Since much of the trail goes through small towns using ATV trails and highways, there were numerous opportunities for me to resupply in small general stores, grocery markets, and service stations. I did not need to send any resupply boxes in this province; however, I did load up with food whenever I found a nice store. Also there are many places to charge up my battery pack and electronics, which made it east. Stealth camping was also not too difficult since I was in the boonies and there was tree canopy much of the way. You could definitely do this alone without any support as Pitstop was just along for the ride and to help me make connections from province to province. Also, the locals are really friendly and will help you out, so never be afraid to ask for assistance or guidance from them as they know the area like the back of their hand.

      Thanks for the comment.

      All the best to you and your next undertaking!

      —David (Outback)

  3. Hi David,

    Thank you for leaving your website on our guest log yesterday when you visited OCCHS with David S. You both were fascinating to talk to. Come back any time. You are both inspirations.


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