Editor's note: the following column was also published in the Aug. 21, 2012 print edition of The Compass
What does the Bay Roberts Heritage Trail have in common with the Bruce, Falling Water, Oak Ridges, Grand Valley and Nanabush trails (Ontario), the Canol Heritage Trail (Western Canada), the Skerwink Trail (Eastern Canada), the Panorama Trail (United States), and the Inca Trail (South America)? How about Hadrian's Wall (Northern England), Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), and the Queen Charlotte Wilderness Park (New Zealand)?
The link may be somewhat tenuous, but these 12 sites are featured in a new book, "100 Hikers 100 Hikes from Tobermory to Kilimanjaro," edited by Andrew Camani.
According to the publisher's blurb, "Hikers have always been inspired by the wonders of nature's diverse landscapes.
"Equally compelling are these ... stories written by ... hikers from various backgrounds, professions and lifestyles, who present their own interpretations of their individual experiences."
Camani invites readers to "lace up a pair of virtual hiking boots and journey with us across mountains, savannahs, canyons and deserts.
"Enjoy trying on 100 different hats and experiencing 100 great adventures through a kaleidoscope of coloured lenses."
Camani himself is no stranger to hikes. An avid hiker, he is a member of the Bruce Trail Conservancy. The father of three daughters, he lives in Hamilton, Ontario, and teaches with the Grand Erie District School Board.
Bonnie Zinn, who tells about her adventure on the Bay Roberts Heritage Trail, is one of the 100 hikers who, in Camani's words, "share their most memorable hikes."
In 2008, she made her trip to Newfoundland which, she says, "surpassed all my expectations." Landing at Deer Lake, she left the island from St. John's.
"Each day," she reminisces, "was an adventure and a new hiking experience."
On the west coast, she did the Gros Morne climb, which she found "exhilarating." On the East Coast Trail, she reveled in what she calls the "magnificent ocean vistas." Both trails, about which she "had heard so much and long anticipated ... lived up to their reputations."
In addition, she serendipitously came upon what she dubs "the unexpected," trails previously unknown to her. The Alexander Murray hiking trail at King's Point was unbeatable for "a cardio workout." She was rewarded with "a beautiful waterfall en route and a great view once you reached the top." The walking trails at Long Point lighthouse brought her face-to-face with a black fox. On the Badger's Park Trail, she "managed to trap a bee in my pants" - evoking various scenarios - but she "came through the ordeal unscathed."
Then she reached Conception Bay.
"One hike I remember with particular fondness," she says, "is the Bay Roberts Heritage Trail."
She made a detour to visit Dildo, originally intending to settle for pictures taken by the town's well-photographed sign. She discovered the Bay Roberts Heritage Trail at French's Cove.
Though it warms the cockles of the heart of a Bay Roberts resident to know that Bonnie ambled the Bay Roberts Heritage Trail, less comforting is a rather demeaning story she relates.
Not far in, after leaving the trailhead, she "met a man returning from his daily walk. It was a very pleasant exchange, though at times I had trouble understanding him, as his accent was very strong. His parting words were 'Tankdelardfereltanstringt.' I detained him long enough to get him to repeat it, and when I deciphered his words, I heartily agreed."
Let's move on to her thoughts about the trail itself: "The well-worn trail meanders through meadows and blueberry patches, past root cellars and beside an old gravesite overlooking the ocean. It takes you out on the edge of high cliffs and then leads to rugged rocks where you can carefully clamber close to the crashing waves." Mad Rock never ceases to amaze.
The afternoon combined many positive aspects of life, including what Bonnie remembers as "fellowship with a friend, perfect weather, Mother Nature in all her power and splendour - and a chance encounter."
By the way, in case readers haven't yet deciphered the words spoken by the man Bonnie met returning from his walk on the Bay Roberts Heritage Trail, here's the interpretation: "Thank the Lord for health and strength."
In addition to Bonnie Zinn, seven other hikers write about their Newfoundland hikes.
The text of Camani's book is supplemented by more than 30 stunning full-colour photos.
"100 Hikers 100 Hikes from Tobermory to Kilimanjaro" is published by Camtrek Books of Hamilton.
Burton K. Janes lives in Bay Roberts. His column appears in The Compass every week. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2012 The Compass (Carbonear, NL). All rights reserved.