Gros Morne

August 20 to September 5, 2005

Trout River

6pm, August 24, 2005, Trout River Campground

Wow. We have bugs. Wierd. From none to many just by driving 20km down the road. Ah well. The view makes up for it.

Trout River has a great view. It's a much more typical car campground. Carefully apportionned grass-covered flat spaces tastefully surrounded by greenery to provide a modicum of privacy. In each spot, a picnic table, a metal fire box and something that looks like a backwoods bidet.

Okay, it doesn't look like a bidet. It's where they want you to dispose of your dishwater, the Parks Canada guy explained to me. It's a fibreglass bowl with a hole in the bottom, sitting on top of a corrugated metal cylinder buried in the ground and filled with gravel.

The Parks Canada guy said once a camper - an American, he felt compelled to point out - had used it for a firepit.

"I thought the fumes would have killed him," he said.

We got to the campground around 3pm, after hiking Green Gardens. It's now quite clear to me why they made Gros Morne into a UNESCO world heritage site.

Green Gardens takes you down off the Tablelands through a wooded valley to the sea shore. The shoreline is smooth, rolling mountains - rising 100's of metres up from the sea, with grass and thistle-covered slopes suddenly dropping off to 30 metre, maroon-coloured cliffs, then down onto a rocky beach, from which rise pillow laval rock "stacks" created when waves and ice wore away weaker surrounding rock.

The hiking trail wends its way along the slopes, descending to the beach and back up the height of land before following a creek back up to the highway. Park wardens had closed one segment of the trail that had washed out, but I think we still got to see the best of it.

If you're planning on going here, I would heartily recommend camping at the "primitive" sites along this trail. They're spectacular. We're mostly geared for car camping, unfortunately, so the idea of overnighting is a theoretical one. Oh well. Next time. If only we'd brought a water filter.

The hike is quite steep and getting to the ocean is all down hill. We started out from the highway around by about 10:30 we were down on the beach by 11:15 or so. We wandered along the beach, watched the ocean and headed back by about 1:30pm.

On our way back up we were exposed to sun for the first time since we arrived. Encouraging, I suppose, except for the fact that I'd been so cold when we got up this morning that I'd put on long underwear.

See, last night it was cold. Irene had her down jacket on as we were making dinner. No wonder Lamond was empty. No one else was daft enough to be camping in this weather.

Anyway, we got to Trout River to discover that when you reserve a Parks Canada campground site over the internet you pay for the whole shot up front. Compare and contrast with Ontario's parks where you pay only a reservation fee and pony up for the camping charges when you show up.

At Lomond, the warden's computer wasn't working, and so I paid cash, for a reservation I'd already paid for. Oops. Our good friend at Trout River has promised to help us set it straight.

In retrospect, the reservation system seemed pointless. Possibly at other times of the year it's a good idea, but it was a waste of money.

Anyhow, the bugs are bugging me.

August 27, 2005, 7:45pm, Trout River Pond Campground

The joys of car camping. This 50something german couple is trying to maneuver their rented RV into their campsite, without leaving reverse. The warning beep has been polluting and otherwise relatively serene evening seemingly for an eternity.

Meanwhile the drone of a generator can be heard throughout the campground.

Oh well. Tomorrow we're leaving for more remote "primitive" environs.

Today we hiked the Trout River Pond trail. First I should say a word about the name. I must surmise that naming bodies of water must be a relative thing. How else to explain why a 15km long, 2km wide body of water is called a "pond." The explanation must lie with the fact that the people who named it are on an island in the middle of the ocean.

Post-facto note: A correspondent wrote me that "large bodies of fresh water are called ponds because of the British (and their long connection to NL). They were used to only small bodies of water and thus named lakes as ponds. This was continued throughout much of NL cultural history. Most were named lakes in the 20th century.

Competing post-facto note: Another correspondent commented: Actually, the difference for most newfoundlanders between a pond and a lake has nothing to do with size but is related to source. If the body of water is fed by a river it's a lake. If no river feeds into it we usually call it a pond.

The pond is lined on one sides by steep, peridotite slopes, mostly the barren, mustard colour of the Tablelands. On the other side is the forest-covered flat top mountains of grey granite.

The trail follows the shore of the pond, about half way down. Return trip, 15km. The first few km are kind of boring, as you pass through low-lying forest too tall to give you much of a view.

But then you come out onto the open slopes and the whole area is before you as you walk over stoney plains, up rocky slopes, which rise up above the "pond". There's a boat tour you can take along the pond. We're leaning toward not taking it.

Apart from one other couple, we have this trail to ourselves again.

Amazing, really. I hope my pictures do this place justice.

We set off at 9:15 and were back by 1:30. We sat at the end of the trail for about half an hour, mesmerized by the scenery.

Afterward we had lunch at the picnic area at the trail head. After lunch we drove into Trout River and had a slice of partridge berry pie at the "famous" Seaside Restaurant and hung out there reading for a while. There's a short trail that climbs the headlands at the east end of the bay. The "East Point" trail had been gussied up some years ago as part of some make-work project, according to the cashier at Trout River's Red and White, including putting in a tent platform overlooking the ocean. It's a gorgeous spot - and it's free - but it's also a sheep pasture, and water is about 500m away.

But if this does not trouble you, or if you get there and Trout River is full, you can always try the East Point trail.

We came back to the campground for 5:30pm or thereabouts, had showers, made supper and came out to watch the setting sun light up the mountains across the pond.

Green Gardens: at sea level, more or less.

Green Gardens: at sea level, more or less.

Trail end: Trout River Pond. Note the contrast between the west and east shores.

Trail end: Trout River Pond. Note the contrast between the west and east shores.

Beach, Green Gardens

Beach: Green Gardens