Parisiens trek Blow-Me-Down Mountain Trail
IATNL (International Appalachian Trail Newfoundland Labrador)
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From May 19 to 21, two hikers from Paris, France braved chilly nightime temperatures and colder patches of snow and ice to make a rare spring trek of the Blow-Me-Down Mountain Trail. Fabien Mignot and Loris Pennacchioli took a break from their studies in Montreal to visit Western Newfoundland - formerly a part of the French Shore of Newfoundland - and hike sections of the IATNL.
The 3-day trek began at the parking lot of the Blow-Me-Down Brook Trail, which connects to the Blow-Me-Down Mountain Trail at the Sands, a long sandy slope that rises to the top of the mountains at the bend where the Blow-Me Down Brook valley turns into the mountains on its way to Blow-Me Down Brook Falls.
From Blow-Me-Down Brook, the French duo climbed the rust-colored peridotite until they were out of the valley and into sunny blue skies.
View of Mad Dog Pond and distant Cape Blow-Me-Down, from the rim of Blow-Me-Down Brook Valley
They then headed south across the barren plateau of the Blow-Me-Downs, following dry grassy leads around and between water-filled bog holes and patches of snow.
By evening they were at the north rim of Simms Gulch, where they set up camp for the night.
Day 2 was another sunny spring day that provided good visibility for the spectacular views of Simms Gulch, a long steep valley with sheer cliffs of mafic and ultramic rock, remnants of the earth's oceanic crust and upper mantle.
In summer, hikers can continue south down the gulch and cross Serpentine River, before connecting to Serpentine logging road. However in early May much of the road is still snow-covered, thus adding an extra day-long walk to the trek.
So after a half-day overlooking the gulch, Fabien and Loris turned north again to make their way back to the Bay of Islands, this time via the Copper Mine To Cape Trail that leads to Cape Blow-Me-Down. Along the way they passed ice covered ponds
and forded frigid streams
before encountering a moose
and rock ptarmigan, still in its winter plumage.
After camping another night in the mountains, on Day 3 the two decided to follow a mountain stream to a lower elevation,
before connecting to the CMTC Trail and its great views of York Harbour and the foothills of the Outer Bay.
The last we heard of this dynamic French duo, they were preparing to hike the Grand Codroy Way on their way to catch the ferry at Port aux Basques. Au revoir mes amis. Be sure to return to once more, to the one time Newfoundland French Shore.