New Brunswick

Women who flew to wrong 'Saint John' take on Fundy Footpath

Three Ontario women who managed to — separately — book plane tickets to the wrong Atlantic Canadian city made the most of their blunder, tackling and finishing a challenging hiking trail in New Brunswick considered one of the toughest in the country.

The women who wanted to hike Gros Morne realized their boarding passes had the wrong destination too late

Tricia McGee, Courtney Eamer and Lauren Hall wanted to go to St. John’s, on their way to hiking Gros Morne National Park on the west coast of Newfoundland, but they accidentally booked a flight to Saint John, N.B. (Submitted by Thomas Raithby)

Three Ontario women who managed to — separately — book plane tickets to the wrong Atlantic Canadian city made the most of their blunder, tackling and finishing a challenging hiking trail in New Brunswick considered one of the toughest in the country.

Lauren Hall, Courtney Eamer and Tricia McGee of Ottawa wanted to go to St. John's to hike the demanding Long Range Traverse in Gros Morne National Park, on the west coast of Newfoundland.

But when they lined up to board their plane after a layover in Montreal last weekend, their hearts sank.

"Tricia is looking up at the screen above the boarding gate," Hall said. "She said, 'Wait a minute you guys, that says Saint John. We're going to St. John's.'"

Deciding being somewhere on the East Coast was better than returning home or paying $1,300 to hop the next flight to Newfoundland, the three boarded the plane to Saint John, N.B.

Hall was slightly mortified that all three of them, who booked separately, made the same mistake.

"We talked about that afterwards," she said. "It's still a mystery."

On the flight over, they learned they could salvage a pretty decent hiking vacation from their mistake, as the Fundy Footpath would present a similar challenge to the Traverse.

Without much time for research, the three decided to forge ahead with their vacation plans and take on what many seasoned outdoors people consider one of the toughest trails in Canada.

"There were a few moments when I was like, 'Oh my God. Is this for real?'" Hall said.

"We definitely bit off more than we could chew," Eamer said. "We didn't know what we were getting into."

Lauren Hall, emerging from one of the most difficult sections of the Fundy Footpath. (submitted by Thomas Raithby)

The hike they planned and the hike they did were about the same length, but the difficulties seemed vastly different.

The New Brunswick trail, tucked between St. Martins and Fundy National Park, winds along the Bay of Fundy coastline across 60 kilometres of rough terrain.

"The Fundy Footpath, you're going up and down cliffs," Hall said. "I'm pretty scared of heights."

"I would have learned to hike more before going," Eamer said. "I think we overpacked."

New friends on the way

On the second day of their five-day saga, they discussed calling it quits. 

But luckily, they met a few New Brunswick hikers along the way who provided guidance, in how to keep the blood in their legs circulating, for instance, and some much-needed food.

"Every single person we met was so generous," Eamer said. "Willing to help. You initially tell them the story, they giggle and whatever, but then they're making sure you're OK and you're taken care of."

Among their new friends is volunteer Thomas Raithby, who gave the women a few snacks and snapped some photographs after they emerged from the toughest part of the terrain.

He also provided some much needed encouragement just before the women completed "Heart Attack Hill," ostensibly the toughest part of the trail.

Lauren Hall, left, next to Courtney Eamer and Tricia McGee, says that in the end, the three friends felt they'd booked the correct flight after all. (Submitted by Thomas Raithby)

"His wife Penny gave us a carrot," Eamer said. "Which doesn't sound like much … but was really nice to have."

By day four, the trio realized they were close to completion and decided to push on to the finish line.

Although they're still a little sore five days later, they're glad they made the trip.

"Before we started the Fundy Footpath, Tricia talked about how some things happen for a reason, certain things in life are to teach us a lesson," Hall said.

"We realized, no matter what, we're able to make life fun. It looks like we booked the right flights after all."