I was captivated watching Justin Barbour’s YouTube series on his 68-day, 700-kilometre trek in 2017 across his home province of Newfoundland, accompanied by his Cape Shore water dog, Saku. I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed it. Thousands of viewers grabbed hold of this amazing adventure taken on by a true-spirited outdoor enthusiast.
Justin wrote and published a book about his journey, and it’s just as absorbing.
He’s a true Newfoundlander, gathering his love for the outdoors as a child growing up in a rural town, taking time out to try his luck for playing in the NHL, then returning to his beloved province to gain a teacher’s degree and share his passion for wilderness travel through outdoor education. When he accomplished all that, Justin decided to leave it all for a bit and walk across his cherished province. The book answers viewers' question: "why?"
That’s the main reason I like the book slightly more than the video series. Readers get to know a little bit more of what makes Justin tick. Why he chose to go alone, except for his three-year-old retriever. There’s also a solid explanation of his route choice, the gear he packed and an incredible amount of detail on the “pure” Newfoundland people he met along the way, the astonishing wilderness he witnessed and the sheer beauty of the province’s backcountry he’ll never forget.
This wasn’t a usual trek. It was a bushwhack from east to west, scrambling from hilltop to hilltop across the Long Range Mountains, hiking through the thick boreal forest of the Avalon Wilderness Reserve and paddling down trout-filled ponds and brooks in his flimsy inflatable raft. It wasn’t a common thru hike. It was going blindly from A to B and dealing with everything in between.
The elongated journey spanned two seasons, interrupted now and then by early spring snow, cold temperatures, an assortment of wildlife encounters, physical and mental fatigue… but Justin’s positive character pushed all the negative impacts away, like a true Newfoundlander—complete with a beaming smile.
Check out his video series, and make sure you read his book as well.