Dwight Peck's personal website

Newfoundland is still there (2006)

The island that became part of Canada about the time that I was watching Captain Midnight on a 10-inch B+W TV screen and sending in my cereal boxtops for the code ring.

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

The Gros Morne National Park: Western Brook Pond (i.e., the "fjord")

That's the glacially-carved fjord-like thing we're off to see today. The Long Range Mountains run north-south along the centre of the Gros Morne National Park at more or less 800m altitude, and as we learnt yesterday, glaciers 15,000 years ago carved out several of these downward tracks to the sea. When the glaciers melted off, the terrain, relieved of their weight, duly rose, leaving three kilometres of peat-boggy flats and little ridges between the fjord and the coastline.

That's a boggy flat and little ridge right in front of us now.

The boggiest parts get their own boardwalks and little bridges over the creeks. Staff get to ride on little vehicles, we tourists march along behind them.

Coming over the last little ridge, we can see the Western Brook Pond and the plateaux above. The climb to the top would be modest, with a good path -- the same elevation-gain as jogging up from Leysin village to the top of the Tour d'Aï (the work of 53 minutes in the old days) -- but there aren't many paths here (and the old days are gone), and it looks like getting up and back in the same day would take some planning, and some bushwhacking. There are a few recognized multi-day treks along the top, however, and we hope that (when we're not carrying a portable broken-foot cast in our luggage) we will be back for at least one of them.

Our tour boat, brought in by helicopter some years ago.

Passengers gather to await the 1 p.m. sailing, all of whom have walked the trail across the peaty bogs to the dock, including members of a bicycling rally group who were riding northward at a leisurely pace from Deer Lake to the Viking attractions at L'Anse aux Meadows at the far north of the peninsula, over something like ten days.

Cyclists and civilians await the call to the boats. These mountains are, by the way, part of the Appalachians (as are the Great Smokies, which one of us - but not the other of us - once crossed in the middle of the night to get married underage in Asheville, N.C.), the very northern end of the range, in fact.

We're on board our tour boat, and we're so excited. The Western Brook Pond! ("Pond" is Newfoundlandish for "really big lake" as well as for "pond".) 38 Canadian dollars apiece is a small price to pay for "billion year old cliffs" (I thought they said "15,000 years"). (Alas, no senior discounts.) (But Kristin paid anyway.)

Our boat heads out. Not that boat, that's the other one. One holds 70 and the other 90, with English-speaking guides on both of them and the French-speaking guide choosing between them.

Leaving the open lake and heading into the "fjord". The boat trip takes 2.5 hours and it's worth the time. It goes out three times a day in July and August, weather permitting, and booking ahead is a smart move. In June, only one trip a day, at 1 p.m. (that's us).

Kristin viewing the sights and planning dinner.

From time to time the boats vary the proceedings by pulling in close to the shore to look up at a particularly good waterfall or ancient winter caribou path down through one set of cliffs, across the icy lake, and up the other side; to point out rock formations on the cliffs to which "old-timers" have given evocative, folksy names; and to get a closer look when someone with binoculars shouts out "There's an eagle"!

At one point, the very nice guide pointed to a rock formation on the cliff that the "old-timers" referred to "The Tin Man" (from Oz), and when everyone looked perplexed, he brought round a photocopied photograph of the cliff with the "Tin Man" face outlined upon it. I commented at the time that "Thank god, at least it's not called 'The Old Man of the Mountain'".

That's the end of the lake, 16 kilometres out, and the starting off point for hikers bound for the heights at the end of the valley. Our boat is turning round now and going back. So are we.

Several eagles seen along the shore already, and everyone is vigilant for still more of them.

As we cruised back out of the fjord, the guide pointed upwards and said that "for those who might not have been able to pick out 'The Tin Man' on the rock face, be consoled, because here we can see 'The Old Man of the Mountain'! See, there's the nose, the chin", etc.

Well, it wasn't much less evident than Queen Victoria at Boscastle, Cornwall, and the Sleeping Charles de Gaulle. (The best Old Man of the Mountain, the one above Franconia Notch in New Hampshire, alas! died on 3 May 2003.)

Thrilled tourists make for the bathrooms and set out for the parking lot on the highway. Kristin's just anxious to get off for a good supplementary hike in the mud.

Kristin hiking in the mud.

Ah, timely! Now all we need to make the day complete is a Moose Sighting.

Around the southern end of the lake part of Western Brook Pond, late in the day.

Down at the shoreline, we can hear in the distance the dinner gong sounding afar off in Cow Head.

"HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S TIME" -- Eliot, 1922.

Another Snowshoe Rabbit precedes us as we bolt for the Shallow Bay lounge and diningroom for a pick-me-up! And tomorrow, a last day of hikes in the region as we pack up and promise to come back again.

Newfoundland 2006

Gros Morne: Trout River

From National Parks of Canada

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 14 August 2006, revised 8 June 2012, 22 July 2014.

Newfoundland 2006