Today's weather was iffy, so we planned a trip to view a lighthouse. What else we might do would depend on Mother Nature. Our quarry -- South Head Lighthouse in the Bay of Islands, northwest of where we are camped in Corner Brook, Newfoundland:
As we drove out of Corner Brook, we looked back down the Captain James Cook Trail toward Corner Brook, to see the low clouds scudding across the Humber River where it turns the corner to flow out to the Bay of Islands:
We had REALLY wanted to hike the Blow Me Down Trail, which winds its way through the Lewis Hills from near Blow Me Down Provincial Park to Serpentine Lake, but the weather was uncooperative, and we didn't have enough time in the day. So we satisfied ourselves with this view from the trailhead, up the valley toward Serpentine Lake:
The Lewis Hills, you'll remember from prior episodes of this blog, are huge massifs of peridotite, rock formerly from the depths of the Earth's mantle. The rock has iron content, and as the iron oxidizes the rock presents itself as orangeish. We found the Tablelands in Gros Morne fascinating. So we'll put the Blow Me Down Trail on our list for our next visit. We drove out to Lark Harbour, which is the nearest town to the South Head Lighthouse, and up toward Bottle Cove. From our trailhead parking, we could look down to the village on Bottle Cove. We thought about the lunch we would have there after our short hike.
We were so wrong! The hike to the lighthouse was a diverse, challenging climb, traversing from Bottle Cove, past Miranda Cove, Devil Head, Parker Beach, Island Cove and Trumpet Cove, to a point where we could see the lighthouse. In 2.5 miles, we would climb almost 1,000 feet. However, the first 2/3 of our hike had little gain, so we climbed the 1,000 feet in our last 0.8 mile - for a gain of 1,200 feet a mile -- the steepest elevation gain we've hiked, other than limited sections of our hikes in the Alps and the Canadian Rockies! Along the way, we spotted some gorgeous wildflowers --
-- a dramatic waterfall that plunged all the way to a gravel beach far below --
-- and spectacular views back toward Bottle Cove.
Here, Kathy pauses to catch her breath on the steep climb:
Notice those beautiful white flowers next to her? That's EVIL GIANT HOGWEED! DO NOT TOUCH THIS! David happened to walk in shorts through some giant hogweed on a backpack in the White Mountains in 2012, and suffered severe allergic reactions which still continue to this day whenever he suffers mild hypothermia. While giant hogweed's flower resembles Queen Anne's Lace, don't be fooled. Its leaves look like green oversized maple leaves with serration on the edges, and its stems are thick with small spines. Queen Anne's Lace has very thin stems and feathery leaves like carrot greens. We hope this warning is all you need.
-- and here is the view we had as we reached the height of land at a col between the near head and a nearby mountain:
The notation in the photo above shows where South Head Lighthouse is. This photo was taken from the END OF THE TRAIL. We looked, squinted, used our spyglass, squinted some more, and whined, "Is that ALL we're going to get of the lighthouse???" Yep. So we turned our steps back down the steep slope, resting near the bottom of the steepest part. I took some photos and returned to find Kathy passed out on a bench beneach a spruce tree:
After resting the tired feet, we continued downhill to the stream which formed the drainage we followed. David led the way across a makeshift ladder bridge:
Along our way, we happened to pass a tree, where we heard a loud, scolding chatter. It appeared we had entered the realm of a local pirate who demanded that we provide him payment for free passage through his forest. We begged off, explaining that we had no squirrel food, so he let us off with a warning.
Once again, we reached Miranda Cove, and found the light had caused the colors of the water, rocks and grass to pop out, so we couldn't resist pausing. While Kathy rested, David found a way down to the beach, but declined to walk down because we had further to go and were running out of time...oh, yes, and we were getting hungry, not having packed a lunch because we thought this would be a short walk.
Returning to the trailhead, we did receive one consolation. The townfolk have saved the top of the original lighthouse and erected it next to the trailhead sign. We had passed the lighthouse when we started hiking -- without realizing that we had seen it before setting foot on the trail!
Stopping for gas in Lark Harbour, we asked the proprietor of the gas station where we might catch a bite to eat -- oh, yes, and perhaps a beer. She suggested we try "Myrtle's On the Bay" at the end of the road. We followed these detailed directions and, indeed, found Myrtles, dressed in her finery for summer tourist diners (this is a photo we grabbed from Myrtles' website):
All was well. Mussels were on the menu and we both eagerly ordered a bowl, along with some quaffable Newfoundland beer. While we were waiting for our order (along with some tasty fries), we looked out on the deck and saw this view of the boatyard and harbor:
Some eating and drinking later, we felt refreshed and rehydrated and we continued on our way back toward our campground in Corner Brook. Along the way, we spotted one pretty scene in Frenchman's Cove along the Humber River which we can't resist sharing with you:
We're growing sad. Today is our last day in Corner Brook. Once we move back to the Codroy Valley tomorrow, we'll have only one more full day in Newfoundland before catching the ferry back to Nova Scotia. Where did our month on The Rock go? We're becoming resolved to visit here again and explore all of the wonders we know we missed this time.