Winter afternoons are best spent in the company of friends, fire and snacks. And the woods.

If you’re not familiar with the term, a “boil up” is sort of like a winter picnic, where you build a fire and make some tea, and maybe beans or soup or some sort of warm meal to share, usually in the woods enroute to some sort of adventure.

We drove towards Witless Bay. Because it seemed fitting for an escape from the city. We brought blankets and firewood and great snacks.

Queen of the Wild Andrea brought beans and tea and a tiny cooking stove contraption. We set up camp and went wandering along the path, watched the sun peeking through. Aine had her first Vienna Sausage. City boy Chad refused to sit down the whole time. Alyson brought poetry and we took turns reading.

Sometimes you don’t need to go far to recharge. Sometimes you just need some good friends and a good view.

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Witless Bay is on the Southern Shore, or “Irish Loop” of the Avalon Peninsula, about 30 minutes drive from downtown St. John’s.
We opted to hike about 2 km into the East Coast Trail and then move off the path to make our camp. We were trying to be sneaky about it, but then the East Coast Trail retweeted a photo I posted of a fire near the trail, so that probably means they were okay with it.

st johns to witless bay.pngInformation on the Mickeleen’s Path (parking, directions to trail heads, difficulty ratings) can be found here.

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Things you will need:
– Things to start a fire with. Lighters, paper, dryer lint, cardboard, etc.
– One of two options: either a willingness to search and gather dry twigs and wood when you get there, or pick up a cheap bundle of firestarter flint from a gas station on the way for $10. You may thank yourself later if it is too damp to find wood (frequent on the Avalon) or you’re too cold to delay the fire starting.
– Snacks! Things like hot dogs and marshmellows are fun to roast on the fire (s’mores!), but you might want something more filling after a hike. We heated beans over the fire. It was deadly.
– small pot, tea bags, mugs. Because the tea is the most important part. You can just gather a potful of snow to boil for the water (not kidding. we all do it. Newfoundland doesn’t have much pollution. Just…. maybe don’t eat snow new Arnold’s Cove. Refinery problems.)
– something waterproof to sit on. I usually keep a garbage bag at the bottom of my bookbag. Lay that out on the ground, toss your scarf down on top of it, and bam! Warm and waterproof seat.

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