Burgeo (& Fox Island River), Newfoundland (Map)
The next target was Boar Island, a 1km0 piece of land near the Town of Burgeo. The above picture is taken from the ferry terminal, and with small harbours even closer to Boar Island, I figured we might be able to convince someone to give us a quick lift across the sea.
Burgeo also has a beautiful provincial park with some great sandy beaches. We had thoughts of coming down here for a while, but wanted to wait until late August so that we could have the warmest swimming waters of the year.
These two things were enough for Nicole & I to drive the 60km (37mi) south on the TCH, then the 158km on the NL-480, which is completely empty aside for Burgeo at its terminus.
We left on a Friday night and reached our campsite near sundown. Chili cheese dogs were procured and Leffe was consumed - life was good.
The next morning we drove through the maze of roads around Burgeo's numerous harbours, but we were being shy about asking anyone for a boat ride. Eventually I noticed three men chatting near some type of warehouse.
I asked if they knew of anyone, of if they themselves, would drop us off at Boar Island for a few hours. The men weren't very receptive and told me that they didn't know anyone. I have to admit I stood around like a dumbass for a few moments, because it actually threw me off that they were so cold and blunt (I wasn't used to this reception in Newfoundland).
I'm pretty sure the one fellow had enough of my presence when he told me to "go ask that guy", as another man was backing up his truck and about to exit the harbour area.
Our luck & our outlook for the day suddenly changed.
This man was very receptive, rapid-fired some questions and stated his price without much hesitation. $50 was fair value to us, as we had planned a whole weekend around this & it wasn't worth our while to haggle around town to save a couple of dollars.
In a matter of 5 minutes, we were already speeding out of a harbour and watching Burgeo move alongside us.
The cove where you would land on Boar Island directly faces Burgeo, but our captain asked if we'd like to take a spin around Boar Island first, so that way we could have a good idea what the island looks like (and therefore be able to form a plan as to how to hike to the lighthouse).
I also think our captain simply enjoyed being on the water & showing off his Burgeo Islands. I could not complain, as this group of grassy islands & rocks forms some of the best scenery in this province.
Our captain owned a Zodiac & a boat, but he preferred the boat. He asked if I didn't mind getting a little wet, which would allow him to take the boat instead of the Zodiac.
I didn't mind & soon we had the boat drifting towards the cove's rocky beach.
It was my job to get on the ladder and get down onto the submerged rocks when instructed. The captain signaled & I was quickly up to my thighs in surprisingly warm water. From here, my job was to be a gentlemen through pushing the boat away from the rocks, which allowed the captain to creep closer so Nicole wouldn't get as wet.
Once the two of us reached the rock beach, we thanked our captain with a wave & he sped back towards Burgeo.
As Nicole was adjusting gear and rummaging through her rucksack, I strolled over to the marshy grassland at the centre of the island - which was a strange thing as I had previously envisioned Boar Island as a thick forest with life-threatening cliffs.
Lo and behold, Boar Island is described as "divided by a marsh, the southern and higher portion is wedge-shaped0."
Anyway, I found the remains of a garden fence & grew excited at the discovery. The old lighthouse was dismantled in 1946, so I was unsure if this was a remnant from the lightkeeper's family which resided on the island. I guessed that the only other possibility could be that one of the town's residents kept a small garden on the island because of the favourable land cover.
The combination of finding something obscure, the beautiful weather, being within striking distance of this light & wandering through this grassland? It would be a gross understatement to say that I was in a good mood.
Our captain was unsure if there was a path to the lighthouse, for he only knew that there was a path at one time. He had never heard of another non-Coast Guard person going to Boar Island, so he was unsure if the path still even existed.
Now that we were on the island, there seemed to be some worn down path-like lines, but no definitive path up to the lighthouse. The two of us made our way across the marsh to the other side of the island, in hopes of following the island's northern edge up to the lighthouse located near the eastern peak.
This course of action was quickly abandoned as the trees ahead of us were incredibly thick and there was no empty land between us & the 25ft cliffs to our left - we climbed back down, after bushwhacking for all of 50ft.
It was time to go back to the marshy centre and take a shot at entering the forest somewhere near the middle of the island.
It may look like there's a path in the above picture, but after 3ft of travel, it lead to leaning on trees and manually moving branches around our bodies.
You can see our drop off point and the progress made in the above picture.
It should be said that this stuff is nothing like a Southern Ontario forest - there are no clear paths and it is a constant battle of ducking and stepping through innumerable branches which constantly scrape against your body.
It is more akin to moving through a collapsed building, than it is to moving through an Southern Ontario forest.
The first forest portion ended as we reached some barrens which were fairly easy to walk upon. We followed them to the island's southeastern edge, but sadly realized that we needed to backtrack as there was a gorge between us & the lighthouse hill.
The gorge led back to a river which led back to a dry stream bed in a forest.
I was almost about to say that there are never clearings in these Newfoundland forests, but this instance would have proved me wrong - it is still a rare occurrence though, as Nicole & I were both surprised to find this comfortable clearing in the valley beneath the tree canopy.
The hill was steep on the other side of the valley clearing, but it wasn't long before we could finally see the lighthouse up close. This was enough for me to pick up my pace & emerge from the forest - and Nicole emerged soon after.
I'm not sure if it's the Coast Guard's doing or it is natural, but there is a nice little clearing in the lighthouse's immediate vicinity. After fighting through the forest for 50 minutes, it was nice to be able to walk freely again.
We were both confused by the sight of islands off in the distance from our perch atop Boar Island.
Boar Island is the easternmost of Burgeo's islands & I didn't think there were any other nearby islands. Could it be that we could actually see the distant Ramea Islands from up here?
At the time, I didn't think we could see islands which I thought were 20-25km away, but after looking at a map, they are only 17km away & apparently they are visible from Boar Island.
We could also see various Coast Guard buildings over on the northwestern side of Boar Island.
They may have the luxury of a helipad, but I sure as heck couldn't find their path from the helipad to the lighthouse. Surely they can't bushwhack like us - maybe they land the helicopter right up on this grassy knoll we were standing on.
In addition to small pieces of hardware on the ground from the old lighthouse...there were also raspberries!
Now I'm not normally one for eating random things I find in the woods, but raspberries seemed easy enough to identify and not exactly exotic.
Each of us had about 5-10 raspberries. They were a nice touch.
From beside the lantern room, you get a good overview of the land & you also get to assess my claim that this is some of the best scenery in Newfoundland.
You can see our landing cove at right and the town of Burgeo above it. The major island mostly behind the glass is Cuttall Island. There is also a small island in front of Cuttall, just to the right of the circular plate beneath the light - that is Hug my Dug Island.
We took in the lighthouse for a bit longer, realizing this would surely be the only time either of us would be on Boar Island. In due time we made our way back through the forest, which was slightly easier to navigate with our growing knowledge of where to go - it was still hard work, but we made it back in reasonable shape & we were soon enough whisked away from Boar Island by our captain.
Further showing his love for the Burgeo Islands, he asked if we'd like to get a boat ride around a few of them before heading back to town - which we obviously did. I can't remember the exact route we took, but I do remember thinking about how much I'd love to have a boat or a kayak down here & be able to explore whichever island my heart desires.
Once back in Burgeo, we thanked our sea captain & parted ways.
We stopped at our tent only briefly, just enough time to throw on some trunks before heading to the beach!
There were maybe 5 other people at the beach & we soon realized why this was after running into the water...boy was it cold!
We dealt with the cold water for a bit, excited by the huge waves which crashed upon the shore. Whereas I used to go out in wind storms in Lake St. Clair just to tackle the waves, I had never experienced any waves with this force...and this was only a minimally windy day!
As I stood there and each wave came, it felt like a mosh pit or a rugby scrum, with great contact at each crest.
I also wanted to come down to Sandbanks Provincial Park because of their abandoned cemetery trail.
I didn't even put on my sneakers after leaving the water, as this trail is far from long or challenging - it is a walk mostly on sand for about 10 minutes. As I approached the cemetery, I eyed a murder of crows perched on the cemetery's fence & fumbled for the camera; but with shy, quick-to-leave crows & the sun in the background, I couldn't take a worthwhile picture.
The cemetery itself was somewhat neat, but I was unsure why the Park couldn't send someone out to weedwhack every once in a while. Then again, maybe that's supposed to add to the ambiance?
At the time I thought the cemetery was for another abandoned community, but it seems that it was simply an earlier location of Burgeo - this was the location chosen before they realized the advantages of their current harbours. There was even a church built next to this cemetery at one time!
When we returned from the beach, I took the car into Burgeo.
With the sun setting on a town I quite enjoy, in addition to Boar Island, the beach & the cemetery experience, this was shaping up as quite the day.
I would conclude this great day the same way as yesterday, with chili cheese dogs & Leffe.
We were both drained of energy from the day's work and the day's sun. Neither of us stayed up very late.
The next day we started towards home and this is that day we stopped in Fox Island River to hike to that lighthouse (previously covered on this website).
Since we were in the area...and since our planned 8km hike turned into walking to someone's backyard, we got a little more hiking in, by checking out the Long Point Lighthouse at the northern tip of the Port au Port Peninsula.
This lighthouse had recently appeared on the Newfoundland list, but I had a friend who had hiked out here & she was pretty sure it didn't count. This was confirmed after I hiked out here & showed the picture to the guy who runs the website for the Newfoundland list - the above picture in fact, shows a skeleton tower, and not a lighthouse.
The tip of the Port au Port Peninsula is a long spit of land which extends from Black Duck Brook for a couple of kilometres into the Gulf of St. Lawrence - it was still an enjoyable hike, even if we didn't get another lighthouse done.
1 - The Newfoundland and Labrador pilot - Great Britain Hydrographic Dept.
2 - Lighthouse Depot - Boar Island Light
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