Clam Cove | U24O Bikepacking Adventure

Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

My outing to Clam Cove was actually a backup plan.  I originally wanted to revisit Point Rosie, but a nasty weather forecast 
- extremely high winds and rain - had me looking for other options.

I had actually visited Clam Cove in late 1990's with my wife and an ATV loaded with camping gear.  Unfortunately, we didn't get to our final destination but did spend a wonderful night on a sandy beach. 


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

The weather forecast for Clam Cove (Portugal Cove South) called for a fog warning with the possibility of zero visibility.  Remembering the large expanses of barren tundra that we covered by ATV, travelling it in dense fog might not be the best idea -
 but it was certainly better than my original destination with high wind and rain. So I loaded up the Jeep to make a second attempt at Clam Cove some 20 years later as a U24O by fatbike.

Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

The two hour drive on the picturesque Irish Loop elapsed rather quickly with me arriving in Portugal Cove South and the Edge of the Avalon Interpretation Center around mid morning.

Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

In 2016 the Mistaken Point Formation (located near the Clam Cove trail head) became a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it contains a well preserved and varied collection of Precambrian fossils and is the site of Ediacaran fossils that represent the oldest life on earth. I popped into the Interpretation Center to take a look as I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see some really cool rocks.

Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

At the Clam Cove trail head sits the Cape Race Lighthouse and the Myrick Wireless Interpretation Center – another significant piece of history as it actually received the distress call from the Titanic. I also discovered that Clam Cove was the site where the survivors of a shipwreck crawled to safety some time ago.

Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

After touring the center it was time to gear up the Ithaqua, strap on the Arkel bags and start riding.

Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

At the start of the trail I noticed that I didn't really have a clear line of sight for any distance because of the heavy fog. That was little eerie considering that I would be travelling through terrain with few visual markers. As the fog horn wailed, I headed out on the dirt road that marked the beginning of the trail to Clam Cove.

Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

The first km of dirt road quickly degraded to a well worn ATV track.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

This made the trail rather challenging in spots as the tracks sunk into the tundra – causing pedal strikes – while the center ridge was covered in low scrub that enjoyed grabbing at pedals.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

If I were to describe the landscape in this area it would be mostly tundra with a sprinkling of trees - much like I remembered.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

And for a little variety there were small shallow ponds and wet marshy areas intermixed throughout. 


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

Yet according to aerial maps, the Clam Cove area appeared to be mostly forested and would offer good shelter for the night.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike
Source: Google Maps

While ATVers have done significant damage to the wet tundra, they did build quite a few bridges to cross rivers and streams


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

However, at times the trail damage dictated me to ride off trail - this actually used more energy as it was similar to riding on a thick damp grippy sponge.

Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

And still there were times that I just had to power through - or at least try.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

From time to time I would stop just to soak up the relative remoteness of the ride. Although I was no more than 10 km from civilization, the dappled sunlight, scrubby terrain and absence of noise made me feel like I was completely alone.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

However, every now and then there were little pops of color in unexpected places to brighten things up.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

After several hours on the bike I arrived at the location where the trail met the path heading to Clam Cove. While a sign marked the general direction of the path, it was not well defined. So I parked the bike to do some bipedal scouting.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

Heading off into a tuck of trees I followed a “path” that was definitely not bike friendly, so I backtracked and headed down another possible route. After a little more bushwhacking I broke out to what was an obvious - but rough - trail that headed in the right direction.  I walked back out to get the Ithaqua and peddled down the trail to Clam Cove.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

This miserable singletrack was heavy with mud, slick rock, water and grabby branches. The heavy laden bike made me think about the fun push-a-bike this was going to be when heading back out.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

The trail ended at a large grassy field that connected to several other grassy fields. Circumnavigating the pastures, I threaded my way through the trees and shrubs until I could smell the fresh sea air. I hopped off the bike and walked the last 50 feet to the water’s edge - well about 150 ft above the water’s edge - but it was there.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

The view from the sheltered cliff edge was amazing. To my right was the Atlantic Ocean in a blanket of mist, and to my left was the infamous Clam Cove. Surveying Clam Cove from above I could see the grassy knoll that would be suitable to pitch a tent, but the lack of trees posed a problem as I was using a hammock. I decided to make this perch my home for the night.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

Although there were plenty of hours before sunset I wanted to get camp organized before doing some exploring. As this was my first time using the hammock it took several attempts before I had the hammock and tarp set up.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

I then backtracked my steps to a couple of dead trees, that I noticed on the way in, to collect some fuel for the night.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

Having most of my campsite set up I head off looking for the trail that would take me to Clam Cove. It wasn’t long before I found a path that meandered downwards towards the inlet. It was obvious, but not overused, making me skirt around wet sections, climb over rocks and avoid low hanging branches.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

Hitting sea level I started my exploration of the Cove. As it was low tide I scanned the sides of the larger rocks looking for mussels that I could possibly add to my evening meal - no luck.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

I was getting hungry so my exploration was cut short, but I did find remnants of past camping expeditions (fire pit) and a few trees that would make for an interesting hammock perch.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

Gathering a pile of large flat rocks I headed back up to camp to start a fire for the evening. Placing my mini wood stove on the largest of the flat rocks, I started a fire with small tinder collected earlier and prepped a bunch of sticks to cook my spiced cous cous.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

With a “roaring” fire it wasn’t long before I was ready to eat, but the mosquitoes and black flies decided to come out and play. Walking around the campsite to avoid the mini-bloodsuckers - while trying to sneak food under a fly net - was a bit of a challenge.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

Finishing my meal I turned my attention to building a mini fire pit with the rocks I had brought up from the beach. With the heavy drizzle/light rain I did not have to worry about the ground shrub igniting as everything was somewhat damp.



Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

I spent the last hour of daylight - extending into the evening dusk - feeding my mini fire, enjoying the view, and recounting the day’s events.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

By the time I needed to turn on my head light, the light rain was not so light any more. I successfully wrestled myself into my sleeping bag and settled down for the night.  It didn't take long for me to fall asleep with the gentle sway of the hammock and soothing sound of rain on the tarp.



Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

Part way through the night I awoke with a fright hearing a blood curdling screech.  I had just calmed myself when I heard it again coupled with rustling in the woods to my right. Staring into the blackness I held my breath and listened . . . nothing . . . then
And this time it was behind me.  I scrambled to find my flashlight and flashed it in all directions hoping not to see any eyes staring back at me. I listened . . . nothing.  I waited . . . nothing. I looked around . . . nothing.  I lay back in the hammock and started to doze . . . "screech" . . . but this time way off in the distance. Needless to say I slept the rest of the night with one eye open.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

I didn't get a whole mess of sleep during the night as that thing in the woods really freaked me out. The constant nagging of black flies and wet feet (6ft tarp and 8ft hammock) didn't help much either.  So when the sky started to brighten I rolled out of the hammock to start the day.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

As I was not overly hungry I opted for a couple of granola bars for breakfast and packed up all my wet gear for the trek out.  While the push-a-bike back up the muddy trail was not overly enjoyable, the movement cut back on the black fly carnage.  Hitting the main trail I stumbled across a wild delicacy - perfectly ripe bakeapples or cloudberries.  I fished a bag from my pack and picked until the patch was empty.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

I strapped the berries to the front rack and got back on the trail.  While the fog and drizzle was still present from the day before, the ride back out to the lighthouse seemed a lot shorter than the ride in.


Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

Bikepacking U24O Adventure Riding Arkel Norco Ithaqua Clam Cove Newfoundland Fatbike Republic Fat Bike

Getting back to the Jeep I unpacked the bike, peeled off my soggy riding gear and reflected on this trip.  While it may not have been sunshine, warm temperatures and perfect riding conditions . . . I did learn a little about fossils, explored a new area of my beautiful province, picked a whole pile of my favorite berries and got the life frightened out of me in the middle of the night. 

Would I do it again . . . well maybe not the terrifying screech in the middle of the night part . . . but certainly the rest of it! 


RIDE FAT !


Oh . . . I did some research on the sound that I heard and it was very similar to this - Barred Owl



Comments

  1. It is a very informative and useful post thanks it is good material to read this post increases my knowledge. Fixie Singlespeed Fahrrad

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment