It was just a few months ago that I stood in the rain at Cappahayden – melancholy at the end – waiting for a lift home to St. John’s (see Part 1 of this story). However, it wasn’t from that vantage point that the vision for a longer hike became clear.
Within a few days of completing my end-to-end hike, I was looking for more. I’d enjoyed the ECT, but had always known that, at least for me, it was too short of an “end-to-end” trek to be satisfying and considered a proper thru hike.
While working on GPS Waypointing – in what I considered to be a totally separate area through the Avalon Wilderness Reserve (AWR) – the idea of a loop trail connecting both ends of the ECT was taking shape. There was a few more weeks of consideration – thinking about how much road walking would be required – before these thoughts of another long hiking route were unshakable.
Today, the result of that idea is online… check it out. The route for the Avalon Loop Trail is a no-frills affair – it’s defined in GPS data (Cape Race to Portugal Cove) and existing maps (the East Coast Trail from Portugal Cove to Cappahayden). The currently available data covers about 92% of the route, with the remainder to come ASAP. It is perhaps a rather presumptuous name – for a route that has apparently never been hiked in it’s entirety – but that is arguably the easiest way to get “boots” on the ground and the whole thing established.
A couple of additional things to note on this route:
– The ALT Page currently has…: GPS data for the route, info on AWR permits, the perfunctory “requirement” warnings, and most importantly, a live map… so hikers can actually see the thing.
– It’s nothing more than this: a suggested route. There are many other options – some for making it shorter, and perhaps even one for making it longer. There is no support system in place or even someone the hiker can contact for more information. If that idea makes the viewer uncomfortable…. they’re perhaps looking at the wrong challenge.
– Total estimated length is at 526 km / 327 miles. The variable bit here being the AWR. The total length will be firmed up over the next year.
– It’s still a work in progress. GPS tracks have yet to be recorded for Cappahayden to Cape Race – about 40 km. That’s on the to-do list.
– GPS, Map and Compass are a good idea for Section 4.2 – the AWR. I’m not a mommy-type – I’m not going to tell any hiker what to bring – but in my estimation people heading into this area without such equipment (and the experience to use it) are asking for trouble.
The ALT is not just more of the ECT. The East Coast Trail is a beautifull, developed, hardened coastal trail that is mapped and supported with maintenance, structures and signage. The ALT has none of that. Part of the ALT is wilderness bushwhacking and route finding – fording large rivers and summiting wind swept hills. Another part has the hiker walking on pedestrian-ready-uber-developed-railbed-paths – weaving by power plants and pizza shops, bakeries and barking dogs. While the ECT is primarily beautiful, the most that can be said for the ALT is that it’s truly a mish-mash of hiking experiences.