Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 7: Lookout Trail hike

Well we were supposed to hike the Lookout Trail today but the weather decided not to co-operate with our plans. We made it about halfway to the trail when it started to rain so we had to turn around. Instead we headed back to Rocky Harbour for some seafood chowder at a giftshop/restaurant (don’t laugh there are more of these in NL than you might think). After our lunch stop we headed up to the lighthouse to take advantage of the view there before heading up the costal highway to Cow’s Head. While having an active live theatre and a few restaurants, Cow’s Head doesn’t have much else to offer on a rainy afternoon. Well except a public library with free wireless Internet access! Although the library was closed wireless access was still available from the parking lot so there we were in the car both logged in checking our mail. After our Internet fix we set off south back towards Rocky Harbour. We saw a sign for a “Walking Trail to the Rocky Hills Lookout” on the way. A short hike up the trail provided us with an excellent view of Rocky Harbour from a high vantage point (see below).

Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse

View from the Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse

View from Rocky Hills lookout

View of the forest from the Rocky Hills lookout trail

Atty leading the way (as usual)

Some of the foliage along the trail

Another view of the fishing boats in Rocky Harbour

Day 6: Tablelands day hike

Feeling better today we decided to take an easy hike.  The Tablelands are an area within Gros Morne Park which exposes some of the oldest rock found on Earth.  The exposed rock is thought to be from the Earth's mantle and has become exposed through plate tectonics. The terrain is almost moon-like in character filled primarily with brown rock formations and a sprinkling of green where plants try to get a foothold.  On the way back to our cabin we stopped off at Woody Point a quaint fishing village for a beer at the Legion.  Atty struck up a conversation with one of the locals and before we knew it we were on a power boat tour of the harbour!  Another example of Newfoundland hospitality.

The moon-like bleakness of the Tablelands

Some of the plants struggling to get a foot hold

Another view of Tablelands from our path back to the parking lot

The harbour at Woody Point is a stark contrast to the Tablelands

Day 5: Exploring Rocky Harbour

After yesterday’s Gros Morne hike both Atty and I were in recovery mode from the hike.  So the day consisted of doing some laundry, and a walk through Rocky Harbour.  We came upon an old cemetery on the edge of town which we explored.  What you’ll notice in Newfoundland is that most cemeteries are located in view of the ocean.  They all have a similar story to tell in that life for the inhabitants was hard and death came early for many.

The pier in Rocky Harbour

Another view from the harbour

A view of the cemetary we visited

A closer view of one of the headstones

Wildflowers found growing in the cemetary

Day 4: Hiking Gros Morne (or how not too......!)

Let me start by saying that what follows in an abbreviated account of our hike and everything worked out in the end.  My goal has always been to hike Gros Morne Mountain upon returning to Newfoundland.  The hike although tough, rewards those who attempt it with commanding views of fjords and landscapes of the surrounding countryside.  The intention always was to do the Gros Morne hike after one or two tune-up hikes beforehand (not a bad idea after spending several days in a car with no physical activity). Unfortunately, the weather conditions conspired to force us to make the Gros Morne hike first (also the hardest hike of the trip) as the probability for rain increased as the week progressed.  Scaling Gros Morne is no trivial task as the climb is a daunting 800 meters over rough terrain (think of climbing a pile of rocks), which is subject changeable weather and there is no access to water along the trail.  So we took the hike seriously and had every intention of following the directions of the park in preparing for the ascent.  The park recommends a minimum of 2 litres of water per person.  Both of us had packed some water before leaving the cabin.  I had planned on topping up what I packed with additional water from the car once we reached Gros Morne mountain.  Unfortunately in my haste to get going I had forgotten to pack the additional water for the hike, which was to have repercussions later on (as I only had a litre of water packed).  It also turned out to be warmer than expected for the day of our hike.  You probably know where this is going….   By midday, having reached the summit of Gros Morne, I had consumed most of my water and was feeling quite fatigued.  Within two hours of the return leg of the hike (the descent along the back trail) I ran into difficulties due in large part to dehydration (and low blood sugar due to exertion, complicated by the dehydration).  My symptoms included extreme fatigue and the onset of lightheadedness.  Atty took notice of my situation and became concerned that I might fall (the footing on the trail was quite treacherous in places).  We stopped in one of the few shaded areas on the mountain to decide what to do next.  I had brought my cell phone and Atty was in the process of calling the park office when some hikers came upon us.  Had it not been for the kindness of concerned passing strangers in providing water and sweet snacks (to raise my blood sugar) a bad predicament could have become very serious.  One family in particular went out of their way to help us. The couple it turns out were both veterinarians (from Bobcaygeon, Ontario not far from my brother in-law and sister’s cottage of all places!).  After assessing my situation, the father (David) and his son (Eric) insisted on accompanying us down the mountain to make sure we made it back OK.  I cannot thank this family enough for their taking the time to help two strangers.  Although I made it back on my own steam (for which I am grateful) this hike was not one of my proudest moments.  I should have paid more attention to my water situation and turned back once we realized insufficient water had been packed (all of this was preventable, Mea Culpa).  For what it’s worth the hike although tough provided beautiful views from the summit along with some great moose sightings thrown in for good measure.

Atty on the trail to Gros Morne mountain

Me on the trail to Gros Morne - the monster awaits..

The warnings are legitimate and not to be take lightly......

At the beginning of the ascent of the Gros Morne mtn

This is what you face on the way up and it gets worse

Looking down from midway to the top - what a view (and climb..)!

A tame moose we saw grazing near the top of Gros Morne

The view from the top - amazing!

Two bull moose we encountered in a pond on the way down

Monday, August 30, 2010

Day 3: Arriving in NFLD

Our departure from North Sydney at 7am was picturesque with a great view of the ferry and harbor.  The crossing to Newfoundland was about 7 hours and uneventful.  After arriving in Port Aux Basques in the early afternoon we headed north towards Gros Morne Park along the Trans Canada Hwy.  Our drive had a stop in Cornerbrook where we picked up additional groceries at a mall.  There was a million dollar view from the back of the mall’s parking lot not unlike what you’d see of the mountains in BC.  It struck us how lucky the local residents are to see this every day.  We drove on to our accommodations in Rocky Harbour.  Atty was fortunate enough to secure a waterfront cabin in Rocky Harbour for the first few nights of our stay there.  The view of the evening sunset was something to behold.

Atty catching some ZZZ's before the ferry departure

Our ferry the MV Caribou

It's amazing how many vehicles the ferry can hold!

Arrivng in Port Aux Basques

The view from the Cornerbrook mall's parking lot

Another view from the Cornerbrook mall's parking lot

The view from the rear of our cabin in Rocky Harbour

Friday, August 6, 2010

Day 2: St. Leonard, NB to N. Sydney, NS and onward to NFLD.....

The ferry leaves when!!!?
After breakfast we took a walk down the road from the motel and discovered we were a block away from the US border.  Definitely not like at Detroit or Fort Erie!  Before checking out Atty got an email from Marine Atlantic indicating that our ferry’s departure had been delayed from 11pm until 4am the following morning!!   So even though today’s drive was about 10 hours to North Sydney there was no rush other than to arrive before it got too dark.  What struck us on our through New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were the beautiful sights and views we encountered along the way – something you’d miss by flying directly to NFLD.  The highways were well maintained and put Ontario and Quebec roads to shame.  We stopped for groceries in Sackville NB when it occurred to us that Monday was a holiday (long weekend).  Every province names the holiday something else (ie. In Ontario it’s a Civic holiday, in New Brunswick it’s New Brunswick day).  So to be safe we stocked up on some essentials for our first day in NFLD and we’d do more grocery shopping later.   While checking out our groceries we thought to ask the cashier if she knew if Monday was a holiday in Newfoundland.  The young girl replied “I’m not sure if they celebrate New Brunswick Day in Newfoundland”  We thanked her anyway…  Upon our arrival at the North Sydney ferry terminal (around 11:30pm) we were informed that our ferry’s departure had been further delayed from 4am to 7am!!  With little in the way of options at that time we were forced to park our car in line at the ferry terminal and sleep in the car.  It could have been worse and the sleep wasn’t bad but the 7-hour delay did mess up our schedule for Newfoundland!

The US border crossing (to Maine) in St. Leonard, New Brunswick

An amusing sign greeting US tourists at the border crossing

On the road to North Sydney ferry terminal

The Canso Causeway to Cape Breton

The day ends en-route to North Sydney

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Roadtrip to Newfoundland...

Day 1: Toronto to St. Leonard, NB
Our route from Toronto, Ontario to St. Leonard, New Brunswick
Finally after weeks of anticipation Atty and I are off to Newfoundland this morning.  The first portion of the trip takes us from Toronto to St Leonard, NB (just past Edmundston).  We left just after 6am this morning (I thought this was a vacation....)  This first day incurred the most driving (just over 1,000 km) as we were on the road for more than 13 hours with the trade-off being an easier drive on subsequent days. The biggest problem was going through Montreal which was a bottleneck due to extensive construction on the expressways through the city.  Although we did see more construction past Montreal the delays were minimal. Fortunately the weather was wonderful and the drive although long was enjoyable.  Here are some shots from along the way...

The Gardner Expressway as we left Toronto...

More construction on the way...

Just past Quebec City

Rural Quebec