Tuesday, August 31, 2010

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

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