Day Thirteen: Rocky Harbour

Just for a change, let’s go backwards through our day today.

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It ended in Rocky Harbour at the lighthouse, watching the sun set over the mountains.

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The drive there was spectacular, and couldn’t be captured in photos. The road followed the shoreline with the vast Gulf of St. Lawrence on one side and the towering range of Long Mountains on the other.

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We slipped in and out of tiny coastal villages and stopped at the breathtaking Arches Provincial Park.

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Before we left Port-au-Choix this morning, we went for another hike along the coast.

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We came upon a herd of caribou grazing. We counted ten: several young males off to the side and a large male with his “harem” at the other end of the meadow.

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We were able to follow the path down toward the ocean, passing quite close by the young males. Once we reached the trees, the large male began to charge one of the younger males. It was a bit unnerving to see how quickly he could cover the ground without any effort.

We now have two full days to explore the Gros Morne area. So many vistas and trails to choose from!

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Day Twelve: Port-au-Choix

If a picture speaks a thousand words, this was our day.

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End of post.

Only kidding. It did rain, hard at times. It was foggy in spots, and the potholes were deep enough to swallow a truck whole (and we’re driving a Mini!) However, the sun did eventually shine, it warmed up to 18C, and my partner now has the skills to navigate any obstacle course imaginableūüėĀ

Two things that have been puzzling us were explained today. From the moment we got off the ferry, along the coast and inland, we have passed enormous piles of stacked wood.

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Often there are numbers written on the side, and there are wooden “wagons” on sleighs for dragging wood out in the winter. It turns out that people can apply for a license to log areas owned by the forestry service. They just leave the piles there at the side of the road until they need them and no one else touches them.

The other puzzle was garden plots along the side of highways, often nowhere near any community. They usually have a wooden fence around them.

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People apparently just claim an area of flat land and plant it with vegetables. The only requirement is that they not use any wire fencing so as not to injure moose or caribou.

Speaking of which, we saw a moose today. It graciously posed long enough for me to get this photo.

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And then, when we reached Port-au-Choix, we went for a hike and saw…caribou! Four of them.

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In addition, we saw whales out in the St. Lawrence, and a bald eagle near a roadside lake.

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Tonight the wind is howling outside our B and B. I’m grateful not to be in the fishing boat that we saw heading out at supper time.

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Tomorrow we’ll hike again and see if we can find any more moose or caribou near the Point Riche lighthouse. And then we’ll continue south into Gros Morne Park. Hoping for a few sunny days to explore the mountains!

Day Six: Churchill Falls

Today was a lovely relaxed day. We picked up our satellite phone (available free to residents and visitors driving the Trans-Labrador Highway Рthere is no cell service and the communities are 300 km apart or more with nothing in between).  Then we hiked up to see Crystal Falls near Labrador City.

 

The start of the hike was hard to find – just a clearing in the woods and a steep path of boulders. We climbed and climbed until we realized we had somehow missed the (also unmarked) turn to the falls. After backtracking, we did find the path into the woods and it was worth the trek.

 

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The highway to Churchill Falls is well paved and we did see some vehicles from time but mostly it was just our car for as far as the eye could see in any direction.

We climbed hills, crossed bridges over immense lakes, passed bogs of tamarack, black spruce and low shrubs, and watched for caribou.

 

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We saw two otters playing in a lake and stopped for a photo. The wind was so strong, I couldn’t hold the camera still and I was nearly blown off my feet.

Just before arriving in Churchill Falls, we pulled over to take a photo of a large split rock.

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Then we noticed a road leading down further. We followed it and discovered a hiking trail that took us through the woods, clambering over fallen trees to a series of lookout points over the Churchill Falls.

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The community itself reminds me of Fermont, Quebec. It’s also a company town and includes a large building that houses the hotel, library, post office, swimming pool, school, and sportsplex. The houses are clustered not far from this central building. And for a good reason – it gets really cold here in the winter.¬† The school is only closed when the temperature reaches -50 C (-58 F). So if it’s -49C, kids still have to go to school!

When we checked in at the hotel, we were asked if we wanted to do “the tour” (the tour of the Churchill Falls generating station). As soon as I heard it involves going 90+ stories below ground, I was out.

Instead, the desk clerk told us of a steep gravel side road we could take down to a section of the Churchill River where the diverted water rejoins the river. The company has created a lovely recreational area with benches, a boat ramp and dock. That is where we watched the sun set tonight.

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And on the drive back up to town, an Arctic hare bounded across the road in front of us!