Search This Blog

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Gros Morne - Green Gardens Hike

We saved the best for last!

Today was our last day of relatively good weather before we leave Gros Morne National Park, here in Newfoundland.  We really, really wanted to hike the Green Gardens Trail because our park ranger told us we couldn't miss it and that it was her favorite hike.

So here we were, at 10:00 in the morning, embarking on the trail, and all we could see was fog, and all we could feel was the strong wind pelting us with drops from the enveloping clouds:

Still we decided to soldier on.  We got rewards right away, because the first part of the trail took us across the Tablelands, where we got to look more closely at all the rocks spewed up from the Earth's mantle when the shift of tectonic plates left this section of mantle subducted upward and abandoned over this section of North America.  Here's Kathy salivating at her chance to look at more mantle rocks!

There are three main examples of the mantle rocks, and you see them here.  Both of these large rocks have the characteristic orange look of the iron mantle rock that has oxidized on the outside.  However, the surprises are inside.  On the right, the serpentine formation was created when the mantle rock split and the cracks filled with minerals of all sorts -- often quartz.  On the left, the internal, dark mantle rock was subjected to so much heat and pressure that it further metamorphosed into a shiny, green mineral:

As we climbed the tableland, we reached what we have known as the krumholz, and what the Newfies call the tuckamore - dwarf spruce blown and deformed by wind in the boreal and subarctic zones.  David looks pretty arctic here, too:

The trail led us about 3.5 miles out to a gorgeous shelf above the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where Kathy had her photo taken with her favorite tuckamore.  The fog and clouds and wind had eased, and we were starting to get some great sun and blue sky:

This was our view west down and along the beach, which is dominated by volcanic rocks -- a major change from the mantle rocks we saw at the beginning of our hike:

We knew that sheep graced these shelf meadows, but we weren't sure we would find them.  However, find them we did!  They seemed to be enjoying the sun after a couple days of fog, wind and rain:

We turned back out to our view of the beach and couldn't resist taking this 360 degree video of Old Man's Cove from the meadow.

Once down on the beach, we took a look back up the stairs we had climbed down from the meadow above:

It was now warm and sunny, and we eagerly set out on our stony, gravelly beach walk:

On this side of the ridge we crossed, we discovered a wider variety of rocks.  This beautiful conglomerate, with quartz and other minerals filling in the spaces between older rocks, caught our eye:

The water was filled with all sorts of volcanic rock formations:

At the west end of the beach, we encountered the stream we had crossed above on our hike out to the beach.  Here, however, we found a dramatic waterfall.  Below, Kathy picks her way across the stream in order to get closer to the falls:

From her vantage point, Kathy caught this view of the volcanic rocks out in the water, with David stepping carefully across the stream on the rock beach in the mid-ground:

We paused for a waterfall selfy and Kathy couldn't help herself:

Hiking back from the waterfall toward the beach, we ran across this beautiful little (what we think is a) female black throated green warbler:

Kathy found her favorite rock in the crashing waves and barely escaped wet feet trying to make friends with it:

We climbed the stairs back to the meadow on the shelf above, and David pointed the way home:

The hike back was a marvel of discovery, because we saw so much that the fog had obscured on our hike down to the beach.  For example, we spotted these beautiful tarns left by some hanging glacier when it receded from the area.  The fog had been so heavy that we didn't even realize we were hiking above great empty space as we passed along this way in the morning:

There is no doubt this hike provided us one of the most verdant and luxuriant rewards we have had for any hike.  The beach was a thing of beauty, almost as striking as the black sand beaches of Hawaii.  We worked our way back across the tablelands, thinking of all that we had seen -- but not so distracted that we didn't keep our eyes out for more mantle rock as we crossed the plain to our trailhead.

At the trailhead, we met one of the hikers we had encountered on the trail -- a young woman from Germany who had attended university in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, not far from here.  She finished college and has returned for a year-long visit -- hitchhiking around Canada and perhaps working, or perhaps not.  We gave her a ride out to the TransCanada Highway and saw her off as she stuck out her thumb for a further ride to Norris Point, to the north, near the campground we had been in a week or two ago.  We wished her well on her grand adventure.

This might have been our last outing in Gros Morne, but it was memorable and will leave us wanting more of this wild and varied environment.  Perhaps we will be back!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Gros Morne - The Tablelands Chapter

Hi Blog!

We're back near Gros Morne! Friday, June 29, 2018, was our first full day in Deer Lake, which is just south of the park. We really enjoyed our time in the Northern Peninsula. We are going to miss the icebergs, but not the cold weather. When we arrived in camp yesterday it was 83F! Here in Newfoundland, you wait five minutes and the weather changes. We had a mostly cloudy and sprinkly day for our tour of the Tablelands. Here's our first view of these amazing rocks.

The Tablelands, found between the towns of Trout River and Woody Point in the south west section of Gros Morne National Park, look more like a barren desert than traditional Newfoundland. This is due to the ultramafic rock – peridotite – which makes up the Tablelands. It is thought to originate in the Earth’s mantle and was forced up from the depths during a plate collision several hundred million years ago. As we sat in the Red Chairs, we contemplated the immense force needed to push the Earth's mantle up and over the earths crust.  And it all took place right here!

As we finished our contemplation, we noticed a waterfall coming down from the Tablelands. We decided we needed to go investigate.

We found the Tablelands Trailhead inundated with wave after wave of tour bus occupants standing on the hiking trail and not hiking. After several polite "excuse me's" we just started plowing through them!

The rusty rocks gave the trail an "otherworldly" feeling. We later learned that the rocks known as peridotite lack the usual nutrients required to sustain most plant life, hence its barren appearance. The rock is very low in calcium, very high in magnesium, and has toxic amounts of heavy metals. Peridotite is also high in iron, which accounts for its oreangeish color (rust). Underneath this weathered orange layer, the rock is really a dark green color.

Before heading up to find our waterfall, we decided to follow the main trail round to the Winter House Brook Canyon viewing platform.

Along the way we stopped to take in the environment.

Upon these mantle rocks once sat the Earth's crust. Over time, erosion and glaciers scraped away all the ocean sediments to reveal the mantle.

To protect the fragile environment, we follow a boardwalk up to the bottom of Winter House Brook Canyon.

Off trail hiking is possible and encouraged. It was so tempting to follow the Winter House Brook back to its headwaters, but the high winds and sprinkles kept us from exploring the top of the Tablelands. As we often say - "Next Time."

Rock collecting is discouraged. So, Kathy had to satisfy herself with photos!

We soon turned our attention to hiking to the waterfall. On the way, we found one lone tree struggling to survive in this toxic environmental.

We ended up having to share the trail with a tour bus. When their trip leader saw us bushwhacking over the landscape up to "his" waterfall, he led his group on a fast forced march to try to beat us to the waterfall.  Not to be intimidated, we found a better viewpoint, where we could see the falls and a snowfield.  This was our view of the waterfall.  You can't even see the 30 other tourists!

Dave did a great job getting Kathy's photo by the snowy waterfall. However, it was raining and blowing steadily by the time we reached the falls. A raindrop decided to land right in the middle of the camera lens, just in the wrong spot. Hense, the halo around Kathy's face.

We gave up the photo spot and Kathy placed the green shiny rock back down so other's could enjoy its ancient beauty. After beating the tourists back to the trailhead, we decided to have our picnic lunch at Trout River Pond. On our way over to the pond, we stopped at the beach boardwalk in the little town of Trout River.

While it was not an official Parks Canada Red Chair, Kathy could not resist this little cutie painted to look like a lobster!

When we reached the beach at Trout River Pond, we found ourselves facing a gale force wind and the return of the sprinkles! Discretion being the better part of valor, we ate our lunch in the Jeep listening to our favorite Newfie tunes.

After lunch, we drove back over the Tablelands to Woody Point. We stopped at the Gros Morne Discovery Center, but found them still working on their displays. They were hoping to have everything set up by July 1 - Canada Day - but have fallen short of their goal. In the meantime, they did have some great rocks on display and one of the Park Rangers took the time to explain them all to us. We learned a lot about plate tectonics. Gros Morne Rocks!

While in the neighborhood, we decided to make a stop in Woody Point to check out the lighthouse.
The Woody Point Lighthouse is a square, tapered, wooden tower, clad with shingles and surmounted by a superimposed gallery and a typical square wooden lantern. Constructed in 1959 to replace the original 1919 light, this lighthouse is located on a grassy Knoll overlooking the south arm of Bonne Bay, on the edge of the town of Woody Point.

If you look back at our blog, Gros Morne - The Bay Chapter, you'll see some photos with this Woody Point Light taken from across Bonne Bay in Norris Point.  It was fun to see it all from the other side.  That's Norris Point, spread along the shore of Bonne Bay below Gros Morne Mountain, to the right of this lighthouse in the photo above.

It was a good first day. Tomorrow we hope the weather will improve and we can tackle a longer hike! Stay tuned.

Eddie and George Wake Up With a Giant Strawberry at the Humber River

Thursday, June 28, 2018

A Real Newfie Scoff Dinner

On June 27, 2018, we attended a real Newfie Scoff at the local Canadian Legion in St. Anthony, Newfoundland.  It came complete with local music. Kathy had a fisherman's platter.  David had a Jigs Dinner: salted beef, bread pudding, peas pudding, carrot, turnip, potato and - of course - mustard pickles. We finished up by sharing a bakeapple (that's NOT baked apples) parfait.

True Newfoundland experience. Yum!

We sat with six motorcyclists - four from Rhode Island and two from Ottawa, Canada.  They were doing a motorbike tour of Newfoundland in honor of a man - the husband of a woman in the group and father of another woman in the group - who recently died.  One of the highlights of the dinner, other than some great local entertainment, was a Screech-In, and our friends volunteered to get indicted - I mean, inducted.

To get Screeched In, you must, among other things, drink like a Newfie --

-- dance like a Newfie --

-- and KISS THE COD!

Our friends were great sports.  They definitely had the most fun of all present, but gave us a rollicking good time, sharing in their experience.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Cape Onion and Ship Cove, Newfoundland

Hi Blog!

The Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland is not a perfectly formed peninsula. It has arms and legs sticking out all over the place. We've been spending our time exploring the various roads leading out to the various points, heads and coves. On Tuesday, June 26, 2018, we set out sights on Cape Onion, the furthest point on Highway 437. As we reached the end of the road, we found a couple of homesteads.

This modest cottage comes with its own iceberg. We were hoping to do a little hiking around Cape Onion over to Ship Cove. However, the weather turned cold (37F) and misty. We decided to forego the hike and drove over to Ship Cove.

This area was first occupied by the French; however, they only used the area for summer fishing purposes. The first recorded settlement of Cape Onion and Ship Cove was in 1857. The main reason for settlement was fishing and marriage. Along Treena's Trail, the locals constructed a mini-village.

The houses are so realistic, when I first saw this photo I thought it was one from the actual village, not the mini-village.

Here Dave stands in for Lemuel Gulliver to give scale to Lilliput.

Back in town, the locals have their winter wood supply all stacked up.

We came across this cemetery across from the beach. All the crosses are the same, but have not names or dates. We speculated that the poor folks may have come from a ship wreck, but we could find no information to support our supposition.

Life on the cape centers around the church.

Up in the Northern Peninsula, fresh veggies are hard to come by. The soil near the coastline is almost non-existent. What soil there is, can be very acidic. As road constructed started to make its way north, great swaths of land was cleared. After the roads were constructed, locals began marking out the best plots for vegetable gardens. Root vegetables work best - potato and turnip. If you are willing to put up a fence to keep the moose out, you can also grow carrots and cabbage. This gardener also added a new "scare crows" in the form of a small stuffed dog and an owl!

Most folks up here heat their homes with wood. For $25.00, a local can get a license to cut enough wood for the winter. Once the snow comes, they head out into the woods on their snowmobiles to cut and carry wood to the roadside. When the weather gets nice, they stack it up to dry. Just before the snow comes, they will haul it all home. And the process starts all over again.

We decided to end our outing early. The clouds started thinking up. One last look at the bay on a gray day!

We later learned that just south of us in Gander, they received 4 inches of snow! Here in Newfoundland, one man's drizzle is another man's snow!