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Across the Avalon Wilderness: Cape Pond to Hawke Hills
Timestamp Free: 2021.01.27 - 00:49:36
Ranges: North America Ranges / Quebec-Labrador Ranges
  (1 days)     Elevation Gain: 150m
Participants: Len Zedel
Difficulty: 2: For much of this hike there is no trail but movement on the barrens is easy if you avoid the areas of scrubby spruce trees (locally known as tuckamore).
A 27.8 km hike across the Avalon Wilderness Reserve from Cape Pond to Hawke Hills. This barrens landscape is a caribou reserve area so that hunting is restricted and no motorised access is allowed.
Well, as I start to write up this trip report I realise that there are a lot of loose ends that need to be connected before starting the story. The first is to note that the Avalon Wilderness Reserve was established to protect the Newfoundland Woodland Caribou herd. That's right, within 50-100 km of the city of St. John's it is possible to see caribou on the barrens. The reserve is an area of about 1000 km^2 made up of barrens landscape: mosses, lichens, stunted trees, bogs and ponds punctuated by rock outcrops and glacial eratics. The landscape is striking and almost alien looking; when walking across this ground I half expect to see a dinosaur emerge over the next rise. Anyway, the thing about the Avalon reserve is that motorised vehicles are prohibited except on a limited number of NL Hydro service roads and so you really get (appropriately) a wilderness experience.

I had identified the potential for a hike from the Tors Cove (La Manche) area across the Avalon Wilderness to the Hawke Hills radio towers but there were several unknowns that needed prior exploration. First, the condition of the Cape Pond (Hydro service) road was not known to me and that impacted how far the trip on foot would actually be. The Cape Pond Rd. starts out as a well maintained road servicing a large community of cabins but, the farther you go, the fewer cabins there are and eventually you get to a point where the cabin owners road maintenance cooperative no longer maintains the road. I undertook a bicycle exploration and determined that you could drive in about 4 km before the road got too radical for me to be willing to push our Honda pilot over ... if you had a high clearance 4wd you could push in the full 11 km to Cape Pond. On the other end, access was from the radio towers at the 4...

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