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Newfoundland
Gros Morne National Park

Westernbrook Pond

     

July 7–8, 2001

The weather in Newfoundland can change on a dime. Although the wind kicked up during the night and July 7 started out with rain threatening, by the time we were ready to get started on the day's adventures, it had cleared up. We decided on Trout River for the day.

There aren't a whole lot of roads in Newfoundland. Additionally, bodies of water often block the direct routes to a destination. So, to get to Trout River, we had to backtrack south on Rt. 430 (the way we had come up the night before), and make a sharp turn north in a "V" up Rt. 431 to get around a large inlet. It took about an hour. The receding clouds made for some gorgeous landscapes. Made a couple of stops along the way to admire the scenery. The first was Norris Point where there was a great panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. A local boy who stopped to chat informed us that the view from Norris Point had earned it the nickname of "Photographer's Paradise." The second was Stuckles Pond (sp? can't read my writing...) & Lomond River where we hiked down a trail to a salmon fishing river and stopped to eat lunch by a wooden suspension bridge (shown to the right).

Trout River's claim to fame is the Tablelands, a large area where part of the earth's underlying mantle — an ancient ocean — was pushed up to the surface when two tectonic plates collided (about 470 million years ago). Very few plants can grow in this very unusual terrain. The Tablelands is the most important geological feature in Gros Morne Park, and the main reason for the park being declared a World Heritage Site. We took a two and a half hour boat ride to see the Tablelands, during which we listened to aninteresting geological lecture about the area. For instance, the mountains surrounding the "pond" we were on looked like fjords, and were actually considered to be so a long time ago; but the body of water is no longer directly connected to the ocean and salt water, apparently disqualifying them from being actual fjords. We were not surprised to see a few patches of ice on the Tablelands. The wind kicked up to gale force and we had to put on three layers of clothing to keep warm on the boat!

A good part of what made the trip to Newfound such a memorable experience was the outgoing friendliness of both the Newfoundlanders and other tourists we met along the way. At every stop, we found interesting people to talk to. The Newfoundlanders, including those who had moved away and had come back for a visit, were always willing and ready to share information about their province. Newfoundlanders are extremely proud of their homeland and their heritage. It was not surprising to hear, months later, that the residents of Gander had opened their homes and hearts to the unexpected visitors on 9/11 who landed in droves at Gander International Airport when the American air fleet was diverted to Newfoundland from U.S. air space during the terrorist attacks.

Sunday, July 8 dawned bright and beautiful, and a good thing, too, as we had hedged our bets the night before and had purchased tickets for a boatride on Westernbrook Pond for that morning. Making the reservation was a good move — there were no tickets left by the time we poked our noses out of the cabin in the morning.

Westernbrook Pond was about a half an hour drive from where we were staying, then another 45 minute hike along an easy trail that wound through the woods and over bogs to get to the Pond itself and the boat launch. The sight of Westernbrook on a spectacular morning is enough to take your breath away (see the photo at the top of this page). It's another one of those bodies of water that used to be part of the ocean, but that over time was carved out by glaciers, then cut off from the sea, eventually becoming a fresh water lake. This one is so landlocked that there isn't even a road to it.

The boatride, like its cousin on Trout River Pond, was another fascinating geological lecture. Here's what we saw and experienced during the two hour ride: steep cliffs, spectacular waterfalls (the most spectacular of which was "Pissing Mare Falls"), plateaus, "oligotrophic water" (clear water without any nutrients), a "hanging valley" (apparently very famous amongst geologists worldwide as being a fantastic example of this type of geological feature), the result of a rock slide that had occurred during the same boat tour in 1994 (nope, no dead bodies, just a lot of rocks), a wind tunnel, a high level of calcite on the cliffs (good for growing vegetation), sea caves, some snow, a noticeable absence of living creatures (including birds). We also saw the spot, high atop a plateau, where a snow-mobiler had geronimoed off the edge (definitely not on purpose) and had lived to tell the tale, albeit with a few broken bones. He was lucky enough to have been picked up by a tour boat that happened to be passing through shortly after. Believe me, it's a pretty desolate spot there. Not a place where you'd want to get stranded by yourself, especially when compromised by injuries.

The boat trip had a nice bonus — the fellow serving as the lecturer turned out to be one and the same as the lead singer of Anchor's Aweigh, a local band that specializes in traditional Newfoundland folk music. We had enjoyed listening to them in Rocky Harbour the night before. Ever the entrepreneur, this fellow entertained the passengers with music from his CDs on the way back, and was consequently doing some lively business selling those same CDs (yes, we too bought one).

Newfoundland is a very social and musical place — always a lot going on. There was a theater festival that weekend in Cowshead, a town about 45 minutes up the road from where we were staying, so we decided to go check it out that evening. We got tickets to Neddy Norris Night, a show we were told we were sure to enjoy, even though when we understandably asked, "who is Neddy Norris," all we got was a slightly mischievous grin for an answer.

The show, presented by a group of young locals, was hands-down hilarious. It was a humorous variety show, called a "time" (or, translated, an event that attracts a social gathering) during which the participants proceeded to poke fun at "Newfies" and all things Newfoundlandish. There was a good deal of audience participation, particularly on the part of current and returning Newfoundlanders. A poor bloke named Stockwell Day was the subject of so much ridicule that we finally had to ask a neighbor who the heck this guy was. Turns out that he's the Canadian equivalent of the much hectored American politician, Dan Quayle. The show, by the way, had nothing to do with its namesake Neddy Norris, who was reputedly the first settler in Newfoundland and who mysteriously disappeared. We had a raucous good time with all of the people sitting at our table, some of whom had seen this type of show on numerous other visits to Newfoundland and were always looking for an opportunity to see another. We could understand why.

By the time we left Cowshead, the weather had again changed, and we were forced to drive back to Rocky Harbour in rain and pea soup fog — not a good time, we decided, to meet up with a moose (of which we still had seen none).

  Gros Morne Park
Rt. 430? 431?

 

 

 

 

Wooden suspension bridge at Stuckles Pond
Lomond River Bridge

 

 

 

 

Tablelands at Trout River Pond
Tablelands

 

 

 

 

Trout River Pond
Trout River Pond and Tablelands

 

 

 

 

Part of the path to Westernbrook Pond
On the Way to Westernbrook Pond

 

 

 

Pissing Mare Falls
Pissing Mare Falls

   

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