Gros Morne

August 20 to September 5, 2005


5:15pm, Monday August 22nd, Lomond Campground

We're down by the shore on a pebble beach, watching the cloud dapple sunshine on Killdevil Mountain, 2km ish across Bonne Bay. We've seen things today that make it abundantly clear where that Canadian witicism, "Don't like the weather? Wait 15 minutes" comes from. It poured pretty much all night. We awoke to mist and spitting rain.

We were not truly inspired to do today's planned hikes, so we leisurely made the plainest of breakfasts (open faced peanut butter and jam sandwiches with fresh raspberries) and read for a bit to test that bit of weather lore, "rain before seven, clear by eleven."

It did turn out to be true. So we headed out without map, GPS or anything to find a trail to hike. Okay, we weren't quite that cavalier. We knew we were looking for the Lomond River trail.

We found it. But I have to say, it wasn't my favourite hiking moment. Basically, Lomond campground is named after a logging settlement named after Loch Lomond in Scotland. And, well, Lomond was a clear cut zone right up to about 1966 when Joey Smallwood ordered the settlement - like so many others - closed down, but not before taking down every tree big enough to prop up a mine shaft in at least a 12km radius, it seems.

I'm guessing 12km it seems because that's about as big a radius as would surround the entire Lomond River trail. There were a few picturesque views while the trail followed the river bank, but for the most part, it was a walk through the woods, which still had the hallmarks of a logging slash: discarded logs uprooted tree ends, birch, poplar and nothing bigger than 12" diameter.

We got most of the way to Stuckless Pond, but decided we were getting bored. We decided to save our energy for "The Lookout" and/or Tablelands. As it happened, we decided to leave them for another day, too.

All the while during the hike, it went from sun to rain to sun to rain again - oh, about every fifteen minutes or so.

We had cheese, pesto and cucumber sandwiches for lunch, back at Lomond and decided to go to the visitor centre to get a map, look around and nail down a couple more nights of our time here. We've left it fairly up in the air - possibly more than I'm comfortable with - but what the hey. Schedules are oppressive.

After that we came back here to where you find me now, staring across a beautiful bay at an ode to Edward Burtynsky.

3:30pm, August 23, Lomond Campground

We're back "home" after a longish day of car hiking. I'm sitting in the car with Irene napping beside me.

We got up early (for us that means about 8am) spurred on by sore hips and nature's call. We had breakfast down by the pay (cereal with fresh fruit). Coffee is inconvenient but oh so necessary.

Irene's not drinking coffee and it struck me that breakfast would have been ready and done in three minutes if not for my addiction.

Irene was most gracious about it, I hasten to add.

We headed back to the Discovery Centre to hike up Partridge Berry Hill, aka "The Lookout."

The Lookout is a 5km hike along a steep, but well-groomed trail through these small, tightly woven spruce and fir trees, called Tuckamore. Putting the Discovery Centre was a stroke of genius. Go into the Discovery Centre, look around a bit, be bored by the cheesey displays, then hike for 45 minutesand you discover what they're on about down there in that new yellow building.

The view from the top repays the 45 minute uphill stomp instantly. It's not the tallest point in the park, but you can see... oh... pretty much anything from there. Gros Morne Mountain, the Tablelands, Norris Point, Woody Point, etc etc.

When we got there, the third rain squall of the morning was closing in on us. Wind driving mist hard into our faces. We bundled up and I took photos quickly before the mountains across Bonne Bay were totally obscured by cloud.

After a brief snack and a chat with an Australian woman clad in shorts, we trundled down.

We saw our first moose, a young adult male who seemed about as tame as the moose in Algonquin Park. For some bizarre reason, moose were introduced to Newfoundland in 1904, presumably because "the quality" in St. John's wanted to go hunting for something.

Now there are over 160,000 of them. There are about 485,000 people in Newfoundland, by comparison. Newfoundland itself is 111,390 square kilometres, which means that on average, Newfoundlanders are never more than 250 metres away from a moose. Or something like that.

Post-facto note: According to one correspondent, "moose were introduced as an alternate big game food source to the then declining caribou herds (various other animals have also been introduced)."

After we got down from the Lookout, we drove into Woody Point and had lunch at one of two restaurants in the village, The Old Loft, which is actually quite new. It was a nice place, but very geared to tourists. All seafood (plus, fortunately, a grilled cheese sandwich) menu.

The prices were good and the food was fine. Irene said her fish chowder was more sauce than fish. And Newfoundland in general is a terrible place to be a vegetarian, but the sandwich had homemade bread and the fries were at least made with real potatoes.

After lunch we decided to do the Tablelands hike. The Tablelands are aptly named. All the peaks in the Long Range Mountains are worn smooth with age (it's the northern tip of the Appalachians) but the Tablelands look like they've been smoothed off with a massive belt sander.

The Tablelands are composed of a completely different type of rock, mustard yellow peridotite and red brown something or other remain barren, while the surrounding hills are covered in spruce and fir trees, or grassy bogs.

The hike itself is easy and short. A flat, 1km wide gravel path takes you up to the mouth of one of the hanging valleys sculpted eons ago by some big ass glacier. I hope my photos do it justice. We had to wait out another rain squall when we got there, but eventually the rain stopped and we got out and got walking.

Who would have thought that so much yellow rock could be that interesting.

We walked to the end of the trail and sat down on some rocks, soaking up the view of the hills rising up 100m or so, for 270 degrees around us. This too we had to ourselves. The weather started to clear on our way back such that for a brief moment I saw my shadow. But it was only a tease.

As I write now, Irene and I are down by the beach watching a patch of sun light up parts of Killdevil Mountain, while the hills beyond are shrouded in clouds. The wind is blowing hard from the south.

After Tablelands, we drove back to the campground, arriving around 3:30pm.

Lomond River, Gros Morne National Park

Lomond River: Lomond River, Gros Morne National Park

To the lookout: the Lookout trail, Bonne Bay in the background.

To the lookout: The Lookout trail, Bonne Bay in the background.

Tablelands: Peridotite, the rust/mustard coloured rock, is hard to grow on.

Tablelands: Tablelands. Peridotite, the rust/mustard coloured rock, is hard to grow on.