A Lewis Hills / Blow-Me-Down Trek
In July 2012, Appalachian Trail thru-hiker Paul Gagnon and his partner Laura White made a 4-day/4-night trek of the Lewis Hills and Blow-Me-Down Mountains. With the exception of their start at Fox Island River south of Cache Valley, their south to north trek followed the IATNL route, most of it across alpine barrens above 2,000 feet (600 m) elevation.
Paul Gagnon crossing Fox Island River
Once on top of the Lewis Hills, Paul and Laura were provided excellent views of both the Cache and Fox Island River valleys, before crossing the expansive barrens and reaching Cabox, which at 2,671 ft (814 meters) is the highest point on the island of Newfoundland.
Paul Gagnon overlooking Cache Valley, with Port au Port Bay and Peninsula in background
Paul Gagnon overlooking Fox Island River Valley from Big Level
Paul Gagnon crossing Big Level on the way to Cabox
Laura White in the clouds at Cabox
From Cabox, Paul and Laura hike to Rope Cove Canyon, a mix of rust-colored peridotite (earth's mantle) and gray gabbro (oceanic crust), before descending the hills via Red Rocky Gulch.
Laura White at Rope Cove Canyon
Paul Gagnon descending Red Rocky Gulch
Once in Serpentine Valley, Paul and Laura ford Serpentine River
Paul Gagnon fording Serpentine River
before ascending the Blow-Me-Down Mountains via Simms Gulch, another section of Western Newfoundland's ophiolites.
Paul Gagnon entering Simms Gulch
After a challenging climb out of the gulch, Paul and Laura are rewarded with a spectacular view of its "stone glacier" valley.
Laura White overlooking Simms Gulch
From there they cross the Blow-Me-Down plateau, before reaching Mad Dog Pond and the final descent into York Harbour.
Grasslands on Blow-Me-Down Plateau
Laura White overlooking Mad Dog Pond
Laura White before the final descent into York Harbour via Copper Mine To Cape Trail
"All in all, it was one of the most spectacular hikes we have ever undertaken. And having thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in the United States, I think my subjective rating should count for something," said Paul Gagnon after completing the trek. "We found the landscape to be at once alien, surreal, breath-taking, and varied. The trip was never boring."
"And other than a few fisherman at Serpentine Lake, we had the wilderness to ourselves!"