Alone on the Trail by Emily Hepditch is a tale of adventure and drama set in the rugged wilderness of Gros Morne National Park on the West coast of Newfoundland. Four friends who have just graduated from Memorial University in the big city of St. John’s decide to take a trip to celebrate their graduation, to celebrate the last fours years of hard work. The group of friends consists of four “townies” who have never ventured to the West Coast of the island before in their lives, and whose lives will be forever changed by this trip.
First we meet Sadie, whose life has changed dramatically after losing her mother in a drowning accident. Sadie and her father mourn together and try to live life the same as they did before, but that is not to be. Anxious Sadie can never truly relax as she is always waiting for the worst to happen in any situation, either real or imagined.
Next up is her friend Julie, and they have been friends since childhood. Julie is the more confident and adventurous of the two. Her parents are social workers and are the warm, loving, and free-spirited parents who have welcomed Julie’s friends with open arms. They consider Sadie as one of their own after she lost her mother. In fact, Sadie would stop by and visit even if Julie wasn’t there.
Lastly we meet the two guys in the group – Morgan and Jonah. Morgan is an avid photographer who is always looking for that perfect shot. He is a very confident person, somewhat arrogant at times, who is in a relationship with Julie. Then there is Jonah, who is good friends with Sadie, good friends who look out for each other. Jonah is all about the best of clothes for the event. His hiking apparel and gear are top notch with no expense spared.
These four friends embark on an adventure of a life time, one they won’t soon forget.
Morgan is the leader of the group, and has planned out the four day hike down to the last detail and check list. Everyone has a backpack packed with specific items from the list. The arrive at the ferry that will take them through Western Brook Pond to the trail head where the hike begins.
The trail is marked and Morgan has everything laid out for pit stops. They set out from the drop off point and hike to the first pit stop to set up camp for the night just before sunset. The next morning after changing and having breakfast, they hit the trail to the next pit stop. After four hours or so with the sun high above beating down on them, Morgan notices on the map that there are a swimming hole and waterfalls, which sounds so refreshing at this point on the trail. The only thing is the spot is off trail and they beat it through rough woods to the clearing. After their swim, they get ready to head back out to trail but notice a small camp down below from the bank they are on. Morgan and Julie go down to look around while Sadie and Jonah wait for them.
Contrary to appearances, all is not loving and well among the four protagonists, and even the artfully crafted setting becomes a character with its own mood. The group of friends are not equipped to deal with it, or with each other, and trust becomes an issue due to their interpersonal conflict.
After one of them becomes injured and they seek help, the friends chance upon something better left unseen, something that may just finish them all.
Should they leave well enough alone and head back to the trail? Will they trespass onto someone’s territory and be found out? Will they find their way back to the main trail? Will they get lost in the wilderness of Gros Morne? Will any of them make it out alive?
Hepditch wields her pen like a scalpel, crafting a thriller that invites comparisons to Gillian Flynn. This is only Hepditch’s second novel and she’s already proving a force to be reckoned with among Newfoundland authors.
Settle down with a cup of tea, a warm blanket and a copy of Alone on the Trail. You won’t regret it.
4.5 out of 5 stars.
Gerald J. Roy is a former Federal Human Rights mediator and educator. Originally from Québec, he has retired to Port aux Basques to be near his family. His voracious book reading appetite trends towards westerns, spy novels, thrillers and mysteries. Find him on Facebook or via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.