The last time I visited Point Rosie was September 1999 on an ATV and I have always wanted to get back to the resettled fishing community on the south coast of Newfoundland. I have always wanted to go bikepacking and the stars finally aligned in mid-October . . . not the best time to head out fatbike bikepacking along the shores of the cold North Atlantic.
The residents of Point Rosie (also known as Point Enragee) were resettled in the 1960s to a number of larger communities in the area. There were no roads to the community and it was only accessible by boat. Before the resettlement the community was prosperous relying on the inshore fishery (cod) and in later years lobster. It now thrives as a cabin community located at the end of the Garnish - Point Rosie ATV Trail.
Throughout the year I had collected gear for my first bikepacking trip, watching the classifieds and checking out sales at the big box stores. I did not particularly want to cough up a large chunk cash for high end gear on something that I may not thoroughly enjoy. After doing a significant amount of reading about bikepacking the number one thing that I discovered was to keep the gear light and compact. When I combined light, compact and cheap I questioned if my tent and sleeping bag purchase was the best choice for October.
I scanned the weather several times a day for two weeks watching for the opportune time to pack up the bike. When I saw a window of two days without rain and above freezing temperatures, I pulled the trigger and started to assemble my gear: shelter, food and clothing.
My shelter consisted of a 6 x 4 two man tent that I had to lie corner to corner in order to stretch out. I rustled up a piece bubble foil insulation as a sleeping pad. The sleeping bag was rated for 5 C, but as projected temps for the night was 5 C I picked up a space blanket at the dollar store. While at the dollar store I scored a couple of 10L dry-bags, a LED flashlight, enamel bowl, metal utensil kit and a small strainer for less that $20.
Food for the trip was actually relatively easy to pull together. As it was an overnight trip I need two main meals (supper and breakfast) and snacks. Supper consisted of Annie's Organic Mac & Cheese with added freeze dried peas, corn and peppers, and breakfast was organic oatmeal with added nuts and seeds. Snacks were mostly Cliff Bars, applesauce and banana chips. Both meals could be prepared by boiling water in my tomato can kettle. Although there is no shortage of fresh water in the area I did decide on carrying 2L.
Socks, underwear, merino wool sweater, splash pants, gloves, toque and jogging pants consisted of the extra clothing. Its surprising how much space clothing can actually occupy, however a compression bag would condense it. I didn't have one so off to Walmart I went to track down a pair of ladies compression stockings. That was an adventure in itself ending with a little old lady giving me the stink eye.
I packed the food, clothing and most of the utensils in an Arkel Seatpacker 9. It was jammed completely full to the point where I could not roll the end. 3.98 kg (8.75 lbs) of gear hanging off the seat of my Sasquatch.
I wrapped the bars with gray pipe insulation and bungeed the tent to the bars. Then came the sleeping bag and remaining utensils stuffed in a dry bag and bungeed over the tent. Water, matches, saw and other bits n' pieces were jammed in my backpack. There was 8.33 kg (18.5 lbs) of gear strapped to the bike. Ouch.
I left the house at 6:30 AM for the 4 hour drive to Garnish and I was at the trail head by noon. One thing I failed to check before I left was how the Wren Inverted Fatbike Fork would work with the extra 4.35 kg (9.5 lbs) of gear strapped to the bars and I did not bring a shock pump. So I cranked up the rebound a tad knowing that I could lock it out if needed. Another unknown was the unridden Schwalbe Jumbo Jims that I had just mounted up, swapping out the Vee PSC Bulldozers. With bike loaded up I headed out on the 24 km trek to Point Rosie.
The trail starts with crossing the Felix Scott Memorial Bridge. If by that time you had not picked up your day pass, there is a donation box just as you cross. The trail itself meanders from sheltered inland double track (ATV trail) to beaches that kiss the Atlantic Ocean. You will overlook the ocean and cut through areas of barren tundra. Depending on the tide you will encounter fast rolling compacted sand, or energy sapping beach rock beaches. And the bridges may seem a little sketchy, but they are quite solidly built. It was an enjoyable four hour ride to Point Rosie.
|Felix Scott Memorial Bridge|
|Bike on Bridge|
Along the way I chatted with many ATVers who were quite curious about what I was riding and why I was doing it. A friendly bunch of folks. A few of them actually mentioned that there were two other guys on bikes like mine ahead of me. That explained why I thought I saw glimpses of fatbike tracks every few kms.
|Some sort of old machinery|
|The long beach|
|Energy sapping rocks|
|One of many bridges|
I landed at Point Rosie around 4:00 and immediately started surveying the area for a sheltered spot for a campsite. I was getting ready to pitch the tent when a cabin owner showed up and and said that I could set up my tent between his two sheds out of the wind. I got to chatting with him and his wife and discovered that he was actually born in Point Rosie and lived there until resettlement.
|Entering Point Rosie|
|On the beach in Point Rosie|
I started to unpack the Sasquatch when I heard tires rolling behind me. I turned around and there were those two mysterious fatbikers that alluded me the entire trip. And better yet . . . they were riding buddies. It was a super coincidence that we planned the Point Rosie trip for the exact same day. They had already pitched their tents about 2km back the trail. I repacked my bike, thanked my temporary landlord for offering me shelter and headed back the trail.
The guys did have a very sweet camping spot that was sheltered, had a fire pit and amply drift wood on the beach. I pitched my tent, gathered up my food and headed to the beach to collect more driftwood for the fire. It wasn't long before we had water boiling and I had noodles cooking in the pot. Mac & cheese never tasted so good, especially when washing it down with a Mill Street Organic Beer. We stayed up well into the darkness swapping fatbike stories, telling lies and looking at the lights of Garnish way off in the distance.
|A great fire to boil water|
|Mac & Cheese + beer = Yum|
When I crawled into the tent I warmed up pretty quickly as it was rather cold outside. I thought "hey this bag is going to keep me warm after all". That changed when I woke up at 3 AM with frost hanging off my eyelashes. I quickly found the space blanket and wrapped myself up like a burrito and tried to get another hour or two of sleep.
About 7 AM I head the zipper of another tent and decided it was time to get up. The condensation that formed on the inside of the space blanket had turned a little frosty . . . but I survived. Shaking off the frozen cobwebs I pulled myself out of the tent to face an overcast morning.
A breakfast of oatmeal amped up with nuts and seeds, and a cup of tea got the morning going. Packing up our gear and loading it on the bikes we were ready to roll around 9:00.
The ride out was a little nicer having the wind off the land and not off the water. A beach bypass, that I missed on the way in, was a welcome way to avoid a portion of the rollie rock beach. It added a couple of km, but was hardpacked and quick.
|The long beach - low tide|
|Garnish up ahead|
|Back to the bridge|
With the tide out were were able to ride the compacted sand on the big beach. We rode it in about 1/3 the time burning much less calories. A couple of km past the beach we were crossing the Felix Scott Memorial Bridge and rolling back into Garnish. When we parted ways we all agreed that it was a great ride and that we would hook up again for another spin a little closer to home next time.
Did I enjoy my first fatbikepacking trip? I certainly did. Will I do it again? I certainly will, but I'll probably wait for summer. What did I learn? I could probably pack less, water is heavy, and only believe half of what is said around a campfire.
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