Breeches Pond

Breeches Pond, NL (Map)

Winter 2012/13.


If only I had a nickel for every time someone told me I needed a winter activity to "cope" with the winter in Newfoundland...

So okay, fine. Snowshoeing is relatively inexpensive and doesn't violate my belief of trying to spend very little money when it is the dead of winter.

Now, if I lived in what I envision to be an ideal place, I'd love to snowshoe to some cool ruins like you could do in Northern Michigan. Alas, most of the ruins here are small & would be buried by snow. Since I personally need something to hike to, I considered hills, rivers, lakes, ponds...ponds sounds like something I could do. Something I could make a list of & check off.

Inspecting a map of the surrounding area, I found Breeches Pond close enough to Corner Brook to make for a good virgin expedition.

A mere 2.5 km/1.5 mi hike up the power line would make for an easy enough afternoon - although I knew I was walking perpendicular to the map contours (uphill).

The first attempt went fine. There were plenty of skidoos traversing beneath the power lines, making for easy walking on their ruts until I reached the maintained trail which bisected the power line about 1.5km into the power corridor.

After the maintained trail, a 40 ft. hill loomed ahead, one which gave me trouble with its steepness and depth of snow.

In addition, I was trying to rush to the top because I figured that all of the passing snowmobilers would find me silly for snowshoeing up this uncharted hill.

I paused about halfway up, trying to regain my breath. In a shocking development, snowshoeing up a steep hill without snowmobile tracks was much more difficult than walking gentle rolling hills with 3 to 5 different skidoo paths.

At the top of that small hill, it was already getting into the afternoon and I was clearly dressed too heavily for this endeavour. Sweating profusely, I decided that I could probably make it, but it was likely more prudent to head back and be better prepared.

In addition, I didn't have my GPS with me, so I wasn't exactly sure how much further it would be uphill along the power line.

I appreciated how far I had made it and the elevation I had gained because of these strange objects strapped to my feet. I plopped down atop the knoll and snapped pictures while eating some almonds, before starting back & accepting my progress for the day.

The second attempt went much smoother as I knew to take the skidoo trail and I attacked that first challenging hill in no time. A couple of skidoos passed me, but after standing off to the side, I continued on & I was back at my almond eating location before I knew it.

Whereas that first challenging hill was conquerable, a short flat then led me to a hill which was twice as steep, littered with trees and certainly much more work. As I walked across a frozen, tiny water body fed by Breeches Pond, I didn't even make it the whole way across before I concluded that there wasn't any way I was going up the power line hill you see in the above picture.

Finding a break in the trees to my right, I planned to skirt the edge of this hill until I found a shallow section more in my wheelhouse.

This break turned into a path, with a few small bridges and open water at various brooks. With so much fluffy snow, it was hard to make sure where the bridges were and where it was only snow, but with these smaller brooks, I was able to leap and scurry to avoid stepping into the surely frigid water.

The path through the woods led me to what was once a decent road. The surrounding land was clearcut, showing a decent path up the incline to the east. I started upon its curving path, promptly realizing I was moving south instead of east. Deciding to shortcut the road by chopping off part of the loop, I wandered into the clearcut area and found harder slogging.

This clearcut provided a decent view of the hills to my west, so as I wandered over for a gander and then that's when it happened.

Swoosh! Right up to my shoulders! 80% of my body disappeared into the low density space below me. The snow must have been about 5 feet deep, as I wasn't sinking any further, but with giant snowshoes on, I wasn't really going anywhere either. I relaxed for a bit, although my legs were starting to cramp from the awkward and concrete position. Deciding to rock my body back and forth, I eventually made a four foot wide hole at my shoulders, where I could get myself into a reclining position to try & kick my snowshoes upwards from the pounds of snow atop them. I would break my feet free from the bottom, eventually walking them vertically up the opposing hill & rolling myself onto the top of the compressed snow. The uncomfortable positions at this point brought harsher cramps, but I needed to get going, so my legs and knees were bent in unfamiliar fashions to get myself back standing atop the snowshoes.

I had another scare in the clearcut area, but fortunately I was moving fast enough to have my forward momentum preserve my movement while leaving a 3 foot depression behind me.

Once back on the old road, there was only a minor hill before smooth shoe'ing through a forest with dreamlike snow weighing down all of the vegetation.

Over only a ~200m/650ft gain in elevation, I now found myself in much different scene than when I first started. Where I parked my car was your standard February sight, but up here it felt like I was in a snowboarding movie or Goldeneye's Surface level. In addition, there was very little wind this day, so that added to the surreal and foreign feeling in me.

The trail fizzled out as I reached the powerline corridor, but that was fine enough with me.

It was hard enough to go out and take pictures of the power lines on the steep slope & this reassured me that I made the right decision in not snowshoeing up that steep hill.

I was distracted for a second by this strange glowing sphere I noticed to the southeast.

Anyway, I knew Breeches Pond was very close from my topographic map and reckoning of distances. I plunged into forest to my east, encountering a few more soft spots, but moving easily enough. I could hear snowmobiles nearby, but hoped they didn't notice me as I only wanted to make it to Breeches Pond & accomplish my goal for the day without having to explain my inspiration to strangers.

I was really dreading walking down onto that pond with the snowmobilers, so there was a bit of a godsend as I disappeared into the snow again, falling about 4 feet down this time. This was a signal to give up & be satisfied with my above picture of Breeches Pond.

I went down the power line on the way back, as snow pants and a snow jacket allow one to simply plop down on their back and slide down any hill with snowshoes facing the sky - which is more fun than I can convey in words.

Breeches Pond ended up being a fair bit of work & the only pond I would get for the year. I do appreciate this experience and it was fun, although I can't say that even the next day, I was all that much happier with living in a land of so much snow.


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