Aug 9 (Day 1)

Yet again, I had signed up for another group backpacking trip with the same outfitter as last year. This time, it would be an ‘unplugged’ experience – a collaborative effort between participants and single guide. The menu would be provided, as well as communal group gear. We were to bring our own tents, sleeping bag, clothing as well as be responsible for some meals. I looked at the menu and was surprised to see ‘grapefruit’ as a breakfast suggestion for day 3 – this was a backpacking trip, right? Since we would carry everything on our backs, the weight of every item needs to considered against its contributory value…. With growing doubts, like a good cooperative hiker, in the spirit of the willing (and ignorant), I comply and stuff 3 grapefruits into my pack.

The day starts with an early 5:45am drive from Hamilton to Toronto for that 7am flight to Halifax. About 3 hours later, I’m reunited with my baggage (thankfully) and board a smaller plane to Goose Bay, Labrador. As the Dash 8 breaks through the clouds, Hamilton Inlet and its great sandy shore, shoals unfold below. Black forest is highlighted with a lime green understory of reindeer moss. Deplane on to the tarmac in unexpectedly humid, windy, 30C weather. The smell of pinesap tickles my nose, a pleasant contrast to the smog of Southern Ontario.

Mary, also on the trip and I met in Halifax. We are sharing a tent for the trip but while in town, area staying at Davis B &B. We taxi over, deposit our packs and explore town a bit. Not too may people are walking on the sand covered sidewalks – we make our way down to the river, a natural draw in the hot summer day. The public boat launch is a mix of boat trailers and skidoos…I wonder at this. A man struggles to launch his Seadoo -  a mongrel dog underfoot, wagging its tail and anxious to be included. Mary and I drop into the Birches Gallery where I purchase a picture book on Labrador. Eventually we head back to Davis B & B.  Julie and Darryl, who are from Calgary, have arrived and introductions are made all around. It’s a small group with only the four of us plus our leader, David, who is already in Nain. Concerns re food weight and volume all around.