By: Paula Cooper
When Katie asked me if I wanted to write a blog post my first trail work day on the Devil's Bite Trail I did recently, I told her I had never written a blog post before, but sure! I love to share the beauty of this province and get others excited about the outdoors - I’m like a child at Christmas in pure glee when I’m hiking.
I had never volunteered to do trail maintenance before signing up to help out with the IATNL Trail Crew this year. I remember hearing Katie mention what an amazing time they had at Parson’s Pond in previous years and how beautiful it was. So, when Paul posted in our group inviting others to join him & Delano to do some trail maintenance work on a section of the Devil’s Bite trail, I decided I wouldn’t pass up the chance. I used my last 2 vacation days of the year to make sure I didn’t miss out!
Off to my first trail maintenance work!
Paul picked me up on May 24th, it was a drizzly morning but I was so excited! We drove a couple hours to Parson’s Pond meet Delano. Delano would bring us to the cabin we would be staying at, as this is only accessible by boat. We loaded up the boat with gear and food (and a couple beers for the cabin of course), and off we went! Already I could see how beautiful the place was.
Once we unloaded our belongings at the cabin and had a bite to eat, we were back in the boat enroute to the trail head! It was a cloudy day but luckily the rain held off. We started up the trail from Parson’s Pond, and spent the first few hours hiking to an elevation of ~350m, while cutting windfalls, and marking the trail with pink trailblazes along the way. On one side of us we had a stunning view of the large waterfalls of East Gulch that come down from a beautiful valley in the mountains. It also allowed us a view of the “Devil’s Bite” in the top of a mountain that gives the hiking trail its name. It literally looks like a bite taken out of the mountain. Turning around we had an amazing view of Western Brook Gulch.
The New Trail Section!
Next was our main task for the day, cutting a brand new section of the south side of the Devil’s Bite trail! Paul began by marking the trail all the way down from our first peak, down into Western Brook gulch. Paul and Delano used the chainsaws to clear the trees while I followed hucking the trees and brush off the trail. It’s hard work but so enjoyable! It felt so amazing to be the first to create a brand new section of a multiday backcountry hiking trail that people will use, including myself. Not to mention, getting to watch a couple beautiful caribou that were hanging around while we were working.
Once the hard work was finished and we got to the end of the new section of the trail, we decided to relax in Western Brook Gulch. We walked along the pond to the little falls, and simply sat to take in the views. Sitting in such a serene, beautiful place in an isolated area, I couldn’t help but feel immensely grateful for getting to experience this place. People would travel across the world to do this sort of thing!
Eventually we made our way back along the trail to the boat, and headed to the cabin. On the way back we passed some graceful geese and a beaver hanging out. Back at the cabin, Paul cooked us up a delicious pot of pasta while we relaxed by the woodstove fire. Of course no cabin night is complete without a campfire and hot dogs outdoors!
Wednesday morning was pouring rain. Initially we had planned on hiking to East Gulch to see some views that are apparently even more breathtaking than what we had seen the day before. Unfortunately, it was far too rainy and cloudy. So instead, Delano showed us a cave about a 20 minute hike from the cabin. It was such an interesting spot! There was a river that ran through the cave and a hole at the back that you can actually go through when the water is low enough. On the other side it opens up into a valley and you have to be careful as it’s actually the top of a waterfall which drops off approximately 70-80 feet from the cave- cool!
We gathered up all our gear and headed back in the boat just as the sky was becoming very dark and looming near us. Luckily it did not rain on us (it was quite cold though in the open waters.) As Delano parted ways to stay in the area, myself & Paul headed back to Corner Brook. We stopped into the bakery in Parson’s Pond for a fresh cup of coffee and some delicious desserts. If you’re in the area – highly recommend the snow balls. Finally, I managed to catch a little snooze on the rainy drive back.
My first trail maintenance trip had come to an end and I had a fantastic time! I learned just how much work goes in to maintaining a trail, and now appreciate the trails I hike on even more! (I didn’t even know I could love them more than I already did). I have to give a huge huge thanks to Paul and Delano who took me along with them! I’ll definitely continue to do as much trail maintenance work as I can.
Highly recommend any hikers to either check out the IATNL or any trail network group in your area for opportunities to do a bit of work on the trails occasionally when you’re available. It’s a great way to give back to the trails you use all the time plus it's a great way to meet new awesome outdoorsy people!