East Coast Trail Pre-Hike 1

After nearly two years of no long hikes, I’m heading out to Newfoundland to hike the East Coast Trail. At ~336 km (~209 miles) this hike is shorter than I would like, but the pandemic has limited options this year. Ultimately, it looks like a beautiful trail and I’m excited to get hiking!

The East Coast Trail. Sorry for the weird map that doesn’t have north facing up.

I first looked up the ECT an eternity ago (anything before COVID is an eternity ago). I could have sworn that at that time, the East Coast Trail Association’s website mentioned thru-hiking, but now the website seems entirely geared towards day hikers. Its most useful page for thru-hikers is the one where you can purchase the maps. The maps are beautiful, weirdly heavy, with guidebook information on the back. Are they plastic or paper? No idea.

I recommend not spending a lot of time combing through the rest of the website. A more useful resource for thru-hikers is this spreadsheet compiled by Randy Best. It has information like resupply points, water sources, camping spots, etc. – basically everything a thru-hiker would need or want to know.

I will be:

  • Hiking the ECT from north to south: I considered hiking NOBO, but logistically SOBO made more sense. Hitchhiking out of cities is problematic sometimes, and a taxi ride from St. John’s to Cappahayden would cost much more than a taxi ride to Topsail Beach. When I get to Cappahayden, I’ll return to St. John’s via hitchhiking.
  • Using resupply boxes: I hate buying as I go. I’m far too sick of everything, and who wants to linger in stores during a pandemic?
  • Camping almost exclusively: I’ll take a few zeros in St. John’s to rest and sightsee, but otherwise I’ll be camping.

Since my last long hike I’ve made some gear changes, including two of the big three. Traditionally I’ve used the Osprey Exos as a backpack, and I’ve never had any particular problems with it… except for the weird lumps that the rubbing/pressure of the shoulder straps against my collarbone has created. AH YES, THE WEIRD LUMPS. I did some research into whether other people have this problem. Online research of course, since the internet is always a preferable avenue to seeing a doctor. (Perhaps in this day and age, it’s necessary to specify that forums aren’t a more reliable source of information than medical professionals, but I don’t need to leave my house to access them.) I did find a mention of weird lumps connected to Osprey backpacks, and claims that Osprey backpacks place more stress on the front of the shoulders than other backpacks. Is that true? Who knows, it’s the internet, but I decided to try out a new backpack that would at least sit differently on my shoulders. Maybe I’ll get weird lumps in new places, if I’m lucky. I purchased the Granite Gear Blaze 60, which also has side pockets large enough to fit my packraft!

Packed for packrafting.

Secondly, I’ve semi-retired the leaky Altaplex and bought a Plexamid. I wish I liked the Plexamid more than I do. It’s cumbersome to pack with the bars, but at least my trekking poles are long enough to pitch it properly.

Lastly, I’ve discovered the joy of chlorine tablets as back-up water treatment. The taste is much milder than I had imagined and they’re lighter than the Steripen that I was carrying. The Sawyer Squeeze will remain as my main water treatment method.

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