How to Walk across the Rock?
January 4, 2013 11:27 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to walk across Newfoundland in 3 weeks?

In a perfect world, I'd start walking at Port aux Basques, and finish in St. John's. Starting further north at Highway 1 is out because that path is over 900 friggin' kilometres long. Are there more direct walkable routes? Assume summer conditions.
posted by thisclickableme to Travel & Transportation around Newfoundland and Labrador (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It looks like there's an 883 km trail that will take you from Port aux Basques to St. John's. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a more direct route that was safe for walking.
posted by sanitycheck at 11:52 PM on January 4, 2013

That's about 10 hours of walking a day although, if the trail is a former railway, it probably doesn't have many (if any) steep hills, so you may be able to walk the required 42 km per day in less time than that. Sounds possible to me.
posted by dg at 12:21 AM on January 5, 2013

Everything I've read indicates that a healthy and fit adult can walk about 32k/20m per day, assuming there are no dramatic hills or other obstructions.

That's based on the average walking speed being 3.2-5.6km/2-3.5m per hour, assuming a pace around that, with stops for breaks/bathroom.

Based on that, it seems like it would take about 8-10 hours to go 32k per day, which would be ~27 days.

If you could average 42k/26m per day, you could do it. I would think though that you would start to suffer some muscle fatigue as time worn on.

If it were me, I would assume I could do it in 27 days (although you don't mention what your current exercise regime is).
posted by dotgirl at 12:49 AM on January 5, 2013

Yeah 20 miles/day is what hardcore hikers do, on good days with good weather, usually with a day off now and then. Unless you're world-class, I'd feel safe saying you need at least a month.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:19 AM on January 5, 2013

I think it's definitely possible, but I didn't say it wold be easy;-)

I've done some long-distance walking, having completed this event for the past two years. The biggest challenge you would face is the grind of getting up every morning and walking another 42 km. Even harder would be the thought of having to do this every day for 21 days. Walking more than double that distance without a break is hard, but at least it's over in one hit. But still, the course we competed on was through some very rough terrain (walking up a very steep hill 5 km long in the rain at 2 am is a memory that will stay with me forever) and it seems that the trail you would use is much easier. During training, we did some back-to-back walks on consecutive days of around 50 km, averaging about 5 km/h and backing up the next day wasn't as hard as we had expected.

Another factor is how much weight you would be carrying and any other work you would hen e to do - if you are planning to be self-sufficient, carry food, bedding etc and set up/break down camp each day, you need to consider how that weight and extra work will impact on your daily distance.
posted by dg at 3:04 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

My grandfather's father and brother walked across Canada, from Halifax to Vancouver in 134 days in 1921. If you want a detailed account of what it was like you can read The Amazing Foot Race of 1921

The book is not well written (sorry to say) but you can probably pick up all kinds of tips about long distance hiking from the first hand accounts that they sent in to the Halifax Herald from each railroad station during the race.
posted by catrae at 5:12 AM on January 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Travel light - - you'll have a much higher chance of meeting your goal.
posted by fairmettle at 5:26 AM on January 5, 2013

Newfoundland is also a very windy place, you should factor that in.
posted by whalebreath at 5:35 AM on January 5, 2013

42 km/day is a lot. As a datapoint, I walked 750km in 30 days without any previous hiking experience, and carrying about 6kg of stuff. It's also nice to be able to take a day off every now and then, and leave extra time in case you have blisters or knee problems or any other unforeseen difficulties.
posted by oranger at 9:41 AM on January 5, 2013

Best answer: Yes, wind. Years ago, I drove across Newfoundland and passed a large sign that said high winds in this area are known to blow trains off the rails. Be sure to take lots of sunscreen. You know those days when the air is amazingly clear and the sun is whiter than you've ever seen it? That's what it's like in NL. Also take bug repellent and bear spray. But you won't see much, because there are no great heights of land, and you'll be looking at similar trees the whole way. And it will be cold at night. I think you would enjoy it much more if you drove or biked across, and spent most of your time exploring the little villages along the coastline. The ocean is wild and beautiful there, as is the language.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:50 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Have you seen the book Backpacking Across Newfoundland?

I'm from Newfoundland and don't think three weeks is really feasible. Have you considered the East Coast Trail at all?
posted by RGD at 5:00 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow, thank you for all your helpful answers! Here's the backstory: I'm from Newfoundland, but I haven't been back in 25 years. So I wanted to attempt some sort of pilgrimage, mid-life-crisis edition. I think RGD's suggestion re the East Coast Trail is probably the sensible approach, especially for a sedentary non-hiker like me. And thank you, weapons-grade pandemonium, for the bear reminder.

Stay tuned for AskMefi questions that address the getting-into-shape part.
posted by thisclickableme at 7:40 PM on January 5, 2013

I am from Newfoundland, and I would guess that there is no way you could walk from Port aux Basques to St. John's in three weeks. Also, you will almost inevitably end up walking along the Trans-Canada Highway for most of the journey, which would be really boring. Go hike around Gros Morne National Park for three weeks instead!
posted by oulipian at 8:15 AM on January 6, 2013

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