July 78, 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).
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.
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
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).
Rt. 430? 431?
Lomond River Bridge
Trout River Pond and Tablelands
On the Way to Westernbrook Pond
Pissing Mare Falls