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Our Girls-Only Blow Me Down Grad Trek

After recently graduating from Memorial University of Newfoundland's Grenfell Campus with education degrees, IATNL members Katie Broadhurst and Caroline Swan took advantage of some rare free time to make a girls only trek across the Blow Me Down Mountains. Follow them as they spend a few days "trekking, exploring the ancient mountains, re-discovering favourite swimming holes, hanging out by pristine waterfalls, and sleeping under a blanket of stars."

August 9-11, 2014

"It's been a busy four years …between being a full time education student, working for Wild Women Expeditions and co-authoring Hikes of Western Newfoundland, I was ready for some much needed time in the backcountry. I finally had five free days in a row and decided I wanted to revisit one of my favourite places in western NL – the Blow Me Down Mountains.

My good friend, Caroline, also just completed her post-secondary education degree and was able to join me to traverse the Blow Me Downs. We decided to call this trek our Grad Trek! For us, there is no better way to spend a few days than trekking; exploring the ancient mountains, re-discovering favourite swimming holes, hanging out by pristine waterfalls, and sleeping under a blanket of stars.

We were both ready to hit the trail Sunday morning and were dropped off by our boyfriends at the Serpentine Lake trailhead by early afternoon. Breathing the fresh ocean air and with our sandals still on, we fjorded the many streams feeding out of Serpentine Lake, enjoying the cool water, knowing it was going to be a hot climb up Simms Brook gulch. We were both surprised and happy to see the trail well flagged and it was an easy hike up to Simms Brook gulch. As we meandered our way up Simms Brook, hopping rock to rock, we chatted about all our other treks and visits to hike and play in the area and I realized just how special this trek was. We were both celebrating surviving the last four years of university, reminiscing about our times with IATNL, sharing our doubts and fears, and bonding our friendship even tighter.

Simms Gulch

As we worked our way up Simms Brook gulch we watched osprey circle overhead, obviously not happy with our presence. Once around the elbow of the gulch, we could see the fault where the peridotite meets the gabbro in a spectacular contrast. Then up, up and over!

Caroline Above Simms Gulch

We climbed the ridge in about an hour and summited onto the peridotite side of the Blow Me Downs. We found a beautiful little stream with grassy banks, a perfect campsite. Trekking with a good friend, who is so confident and comfortable in the woods, makes a multiday trip so relaxing. We both know that the other has her back, we both take initiative to make tea or set up the tent, and can laugh at each other when we are so tired we fall asleep mid-sentence!

Campsite #1

After a restful sleep and a hearty breakfast, we trekked across the barrens towards Blow Me Down Brook gulch, picking bakeapples along the way. Blow Me Down Brook gulch has one of the prettiest waterfalls in the area, making it a great picnic stop.

Blow Me Down Brook Falls

Our dessert today was blueberries! We picked and ate and picked and ate..only stopping when we reached our brook crossing and Caroline’s favourite swimming hole.

Katie and furry friend Bubbles at swimming hole

Our climb up from the brook was pure heaven as we stumbled upon a patch of dewberries – another Caroline favourite! We had decided to explore a new section of the mountaintop and stayed east of Mad Dog Lake, aiming for Rattlin’ Brook Falls and our second campsite.

Campsite #2

Dinner tonight was enjoyed looking out over the Bay of Islands, watching the sunset and the clouds dance as darkness settled. There is really nothing better – the peace and quiet, the beauty, and just taking the time to be present was our reward for a job well done.

Dinner overlooking the Bay of Islands

Our last day up on the Blow Me Downs, we had a leisurely start with a visit to the edge of Rattlin’ Brook Falls and an impromptu swim in the brook. Today we were aiming for the summit of Blow Me Down peak (a.k.a the Cape) to meet Jamie (Caroline’s boyfriend) and our ride home. Approaching the Cape from the east was new for me and the views were outstanding!

There is always something new to be seen out in the mountains and all it takes is a new angle or a new perspective to find it. We met Jamie at the summit and used the Copper Mine to Cape Trail to descend. Our three days in the woods was amazing, refreshing and gave us some much needed vitamin N!

Katie (left) and Caroline overlooking the Bay of Islands

Many thanks to Mike, Jamie and Will for shuttles, and the IATNL for maps, GPS track and all your support over the years, and Caroline for being such a great trekking partner and friend."

By: Katie Broadhurst