Cape Pine: Riding with Ghosts

My roots are on the southern-most tip of the Avalon, in a tiny community called St. Shott’s. As a child, I frequently heard older people talking very casually about encounters with ghosts or “spirits”, both in St. Shott’s and especially in neighbouring Cape Pine. I emphasize the word “casually”, because these ghost stories were not meant to frighten, just to teach that there is but a thin veil between this world and the next, and encounters with the other side should not scare you, as such occurrences are simply the result of “some poor soul in need of a prayer”.

Myself and Mark stayed in St. Shott’s last night to visit with some of my family members, and decided that it would be a good opportunity to ride out to Cape Pine, a National Historic Site. It’s the most southerly point in Newfoundland, at about the same latitude as the northern border of Italy. Part of the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”, the number of shipwrecks in the area in the early 1800’s led to the construction of the lighthouse in 1851.

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Cape Pine lighthouse

To get to Cape Pine, you turn off the Irish Loop at St. Shott’s, and then travel along a gravel road for about 9km. The road is in pretty good shape, but loose in places. When you reach Cape Pine you’re rewarded with spectacular scenery of barrens, cliffs and oceans.

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The view from the Cape

We wandered around and took some pictures, and Mark decided that he wanted to go explore an ATV trail that continued out of sight. I didn’t feel inclined to follow him, so he went on, and I hung back and took pictures. He was gone so long that I started getting concerned about him, and I was almost at the point of hiking down to see where he was, when he finally appeared. He had gotten stuck in a bog hole, and had a hard time getting out of it.

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“Uh oh.”

We set off for the main road, and things were going quite well until I heard a large rock hit the bottom of my bike. Somehow I instinctively pulled in the clutch and came to a stop. It was only then that I realized that my bike was no longer running. I turn the key off, turn it back on, put the bike in neutral, and hit the starter. She’s alive! I hit the gear shift, and…she shuts off. “What the &*%$!!!!!” Mark instantly knew what had happened, and his hunch was proven when he inspected the wire coming from the side stand. Somehow, the rock had cut the wire going to my side stand switch. You see, side stand switches are a safety feature, they won’t let you ride away with your stand down. The problem I now had was that the bike thinks that the stand is down, and cuts the power when the bike is shifted into gear. Luckily for me, Mark is a jack-of-all-trades and usually turns into McGyver when something breaks down.Β A few minutes later, the wire was cut and twisted together, by-passing the switch.

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That little wire almost ruined my day!

At this point, we had already spent longer at Cape Pine than I had planned, and I almost put it into words: “It’s like someone doesn’t want us to leave”

We continued on our way and were soon back on pavement at the intersection with St. Shott’s road. We stopped briefly, made sure we were on the same page regarding where we were headed next, and just before I started moving…I dumped my bike. Just…like….that. No reason, I can’t explain it. It was like an unseen force just kicked the side of my bike. I jumped away and wasn’t hurt, and my bike suffered a cracked signal light and brake lever. No big deal really, just an event I could’ve done without. Mark jumped off his bike to help me, and when we tried to leave again his battery was dead! I pushed him down the road to bump-start and we were finally on our way!

Most people wouldn’t connect this series of events (getting stuck, breaking down, tipping over, dead battery) to anything other than poor judgement and bad luck. But I’m VERY superstitious, and it hit me this evening that what happened to us was probably the result of a spirit trying to get our attention. As we explored Cape Pine we didn’t outwardly acknowledge the souls that perished in the area, and I think now that we probably should have. After we arrived back in St. John’s this evening I went for a run. As I ran I thought about my experience this morning, and suddenly my mind cleared and it all came together. I spent my run offering up every sort of prayer for the spirits that we encountered today. Call me crazy if you like, but in my mind this all makes sense.

So if you venture to Cape Pine on motorcycle, pick some wild flowers and place them on the edge of the cliff, and say a prayer for those people who lost their lives on land and at sea in the area…if you’re not religious, just take a moment to reflect. Even so, still probably best to bring a plug kit, some spare wire and electrical tape, just in case.

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Posted on September 29, 2013, in Roads of Newfoundland and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. wow! an adventure for sure! keep up the great stories krista! soon as i read about the bike shutting off when the gear kicked in, i was going to say “KICKSTAND!”. you bet me to it!

  2. Your image of the cape is beautiful! So glad there wasn’t anything seriously wrong with the Wee. Take care!

    • Thanks! I love that area, it’s very barren and rugged but beautiful all the same.
      I was also very glad there was nothing seriously wrong with my bike…now I understand why so many people install skid plates…rocks can do damage!

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