Tuesday, May 23, 2023
On Monday, we moved north to Corner Brook located at the mouth of the Humber River. The Humber River empties into a fjord known as the Humber Arm, which is part of the Bay of Islands, an extensive sub-basin of the Gulf of St. Lawrence consisting of many inlets such as Humber Arm and Goose Arm. The southern side of the Humber Arm is over 35 miles long.
We have a few days here to explore and get provisions before moving further north. The weather is supposed to be pleasant the next two days, so we are hoping to get out and explore. Today, we planned to do a hike in the Blow Me Down Provincial Park at the southwestern edge of Humber Arm. Even though their own web page, Google Maps, the Newfoundland Labrador Traveller's Guide and Trip Advisor all said the park opens in May, when we arrived, we found the gate locked!
Disappointed we drove on to Lark Harbor, the nearest town, and stopped at the mini-mart. We learned from the local folks at the mini-mart that the park is not going to open until June 1st. It would have been nice if someone updated their web page and Facebook Page! But, you know what they say, when life hands you lemons...
At the mini-mart, Dave talked up the store clerk and she suggested if we wanted to hike and find sea glass, we should drive out to Bottle Cove. However, before we could leave, Dave had to sign the guest register in the mini-mart. They were excited that folks from States had come all the way out the Arm to visit!
Newfoundlanders are pretty good about signs leading to their trails. It's just that sometimes, the wind blows the signs around and you start down the wrong road before you realize it. We did, and, after making an about face, we were well on our way to the trailhead. Here we are at the start of the Bottle Cove Boardwalk.
Located on the west coast of Newfoundland, Bottle Cove opens directly onto the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The cove was believed to have been used as a French fishing station from the early 16th century. The name of the cove is an Anglicization of "bateau" which is French for "boat." However, "Bottle" also fits the cove well, due to its almost perfect circular shape and narrowly separated headlands opening to the Gulf.
Pictured is the 'bottle neck" of Bottle Cove.
There were a number of old boat ramps and batches along the shore line. Most of them were unoccupied, due to the migration from outports caused by the collapse of cod fishing in Newfoundland in 1992.
Before hiking up to the headlands, we decided to scan the beach for sea glass. While rocks are still Kathy's favorite, sea glass comes a close second. Once we move into the forever-and-ever house, there will lots of time for sea glass crafty projects.
Bottle Cove is also renowned for its geological richness. The cliffs surrounding the cove are part of the oldest Appalachian Mountains. Much of the rock formations visible in the Cove are part of a layer of ancient rock pushed up and over sedimentary rocks during tectonic plate movement. The old rocks included volcanic rock and schist.
Dave found a convenient glacial erratic where he could rest and contemplate the geologic forces in Bottle Cove.
Having reached the southern end of the beach, we decided it was time to make our way back and check out the boardwalk. During recent years, the Outer Bay of Islands Enhancement Committee (or OBIEC) has overseen the construction of numerous walking trails and facilities in the Bay of Islands region. The trails are well-defined and include long stretches of wooden boardwalk as well as trails cut through brush land of varying degrees of length and difficulty. They range from short strolls on fairly level ground to half day hikes.
The OBIEC was established in March of 2008 with representatives from the two Town Councils of Lark Harbour and York Harbour, business people and interested citizens. The non-profit committee felt the best way to generate tourism and economic activity was to give first priority to hiking trail development and trail enhancement in our areas.
Having a sense of humor also helps, which you can witness as Dave stands watch on the bow of the Grenville:
For each summer season of Captain James Cook's command, Grenville sailed from Deptford to Newfoundland and Labrador to survey the coastal waters. Much of the area that he covered had not been surveyed in any way beforehand. In 1766, Cook was able to make an exact fix of longitude from observations of a solar eclipse. At the end of the 1767 surveying season, Grenville ran aground near England's Nore lighthouse in a severe storm. The crew were taken off and the ship left while the storm took two days to blow itself out. The ship got off on the next high tide. Hopefully, Dave won't suffer the same fate!
After the boardwalk, it was time to climb the headlands.
The monument to Captain James Cook marks the end of the Bottle Cove Trail. Cook's maps of Newfoundland were used well into the 20th century, with copies being referenced by those sailing Newfoundland's waters for over 200 years. Newfoundland isn't the only country to admire Captain Cook, there are monuments to him in Australia, Austria, Canada, France, French Polynesia, Germany, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Norfolk Island, Russia, Tonga, United Kingdom and United States (including Dave's home state of Oregon, where Captain Cook discovered the mighty Columbia River).
It was a beautiful calm day on the Gulf of St. Lawrence. We stopped and scanned for whales, but didn't see any. We were assured that between May and October, several species of whales are found in the salty waters of the St. Lawrence, including blue whales. Just not today.
Right in the middle of the opening to Bottle Cove is a submerged rock. The incoming and outgoing tide swirl around it making it look like a whirlpool.
We already talked about that layer of rock that was pushed up and over some sedimentary rock. Well, the constant pounding from the sea loosened that sedimentary rock and washed it away making a cool sea cave in the basement rock. Makes you think of pirates and buried treasure!
After reaching the view point at the opening of the cove, we decided to go a little higher.
The ropes and wooden ladders made it much easier to reach the top, which is known as Sunset Rock.
The view of the Blow Me Down Mountains were breathtaking. Or, was it the ladders we had to climb to get there that took our breath away? All kidding aside, it was an impressive view.
We carefully made our way back down to the picnic area. Somehow, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches just taste better with breathtaking views.
After lunch, we made our way further down to the beach. By now, the day had warmed up quite a bit. There were other beachcombers and hikers about. We wished them well and started our drive back to Corner Brook.
The snow atop the Blow Me Down Mountains is melting fast. The waterfall in the center of this photo was roaring down the side of the mountain; we could hear its roar even from a few kilometers away.
We made a quick stop in Frenchman's Cove to snag a photo of this cute little lighthouse, with a group of active fishing boats in the background.
Looking out the Humber Arm toward the Gulf of St. Lawrence:
Kathy has been following Beachcombers of Newfoundland Facebook Page in order to find the best beaches for hunting sea glass. We didn't have much luck on the first two beaches, but Bottle Cove delivered.
Tomorrow, we hope to hike up Marble Mountain and visit Steady Brook Falls. Until then, stay thirsty my friends.