Masterless Men Hike
June 23-24, 2006 Show introduction
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Into the mist cross the bog Erin and Pepper Pepper Mark Dragonsmouth orchids Dragonsmouth closeup White dragonsmouth

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Masterless Men Hike
June 24-25, 2006

The plan for this unusual ECTA hike was to take three days to walk through the “Masterless Men” country marked by the “Butterpots” inland from Aquaforte, Fermeuse and Renews. From the traditional start near Aquaforte, first laid out by Ben Dunne, we intended to hike as far as Big Bough Place, or even to the Big Butterpot, to camp on the first night. This was a route a couple of us had walked before. But instead of heading out due east toward Fermeuse (Dunne’s route), we would continue southward from the Big Butterpot toward Chance Cove, on a course I had worked out with Dave Keating.

Most of this plan ended up lost in the mist. The weather reports at the outset were marginal, and as day 1 progress cloud and showers turned to hard rain and winds from the southwest. Matters were not helped by a “slight” navigation misjudgement on my part as we headed away from the Aquaforte River, which took us west of a big ridge rather than over the top. After significant bushwhacking through dense woods and tuckamore, we reached a small lake which we hoped was Saunders Pond. There we put up tents in rather difficult locations, and weathered out the night.

The morning dawned, more or less, to continued mist and rain. Further analysis confirmed that we were at an unnamed pond NW of Saunders. There seemed little to gain from forging on in these circumstances with wet gear, so we made the decision to abandon the country to the Masterless Men, but returning by a more direct route to the Aquaforte.

Members of the party were Erin Best, Colin MacDonald, Aaron O'Brien, Geert Van Biesen, Cindy Flynn and Pepper, and myself. Despite the setback from our grand plan, all hands enjoyed the challenge of bushwhacking through the bogs, barrens, and woodlands on the margins of the Avalon Wilderness. The late spring growth made the country particularly lush, but we noticed a distinct absence of the caribou. Apparently disease has decimated the herd. We found animal trails which traditionally could be relied upon to create passageways through tuckamore and dense woods now to be largely overgrown.

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