Day Fifteen: Gros Morne Park (Part Two)

We are now halfway through our trip. We have seen so much yet it feels like we have only skimmed the surface.

Speaking of which, today we had the rare opportunity to walk on the Earth’s mantle. The Tablelands in Gros Morne National Park look like a barren desert with steep slopes rising to flat-topped mountains.

IMG_20181007_131056.jpg

The golden brown rock – peridotite – is thought to have been forced up from the depths several hundred million years ago during a collision between tectonic plates.

IMG_20181007_141508.jpg

The rock has toxic amounts of heavy metals and lacks nutrients to sustain plant life so the area looks like a moonscape.

IMG_20181007_144948.jpg

Yet the land and mountains on the opposite side of the road are lush and green.

IMG_20181007_110852.jpg

The plants that do grow on the tablelands are alpine and found only in the lower part of the landscape. The pitcher plant (a carnivorous plant like the Venus flytrap) is vibrant red and prevalent.

IMG_20181007_141605.jpg

So is the creeping juniper. We saw some tiny ferns near a waterfall as well as some purple asters.

IMG_20181007_150012.jpg

The whole day was one of contrasts. I had no idea that this part of Newfoundland was so mountainous. Every time we came around a corner, a new breathtaking view arose before us. And what a mix! Snow-covered mountains, jagged peaks and flat table tops, lush valleys, deep lakes and fjords…

IMG_20181007_094620

IMG_20181007_110645.jpg

We stopped as always in a few coastal villages along the way. We were particularly charmed by Norris Point nestled between Bonne Bay and the East Arm and surrounded by rolling hills and mountains in glorious fall colours.

IMG_20181007_095944.jpg

In a couple of valleys we saw the unmistakable crimson of maple trees – the first maples we’ve seen since Quebec. It actually made me feel a bit homesick for the range of fall colours we usually see this time of the year.

Tomorrow we continue south to Stephensville, and the next day, we’ll be catching the ferry to Nova Scotia. Only two more sleeps in Newfoundland. I will miss the extraordinary land and sea as well as the open and welcoming people who have made us feel so at home.

Oh, and the partridge berry pie!

Advertisements

Day Fourteen: Gros Morne (Part One)

Today, we travelled back in time. Way back. To a place where millions of years of Earth’s history are visible.

IMG_20181006_140929.jpg

Green Point is a long cliff, best viewed from the rocky beach. It has layer after layer of limestone and shale and shows clearly the geological development of ancient mountains. Over time, as the tectonic plates shifted, these layers were forced upward resulting in vertical layers of varied varied colours, textures, shapes and thickness.

IMG_20181006_142810.jpg

As we walked along, our eyes following the lines of rock up the cliff, we wondered how many millions of years of Earth’s history we were passing with each step.

IMG_20181006_143108.jpg

Once again, photos don’t do it justice.

IMG_20181006_141438.jpg

We could have spent a whole day there, just wandering and exploring. On our way back to the car, we stopped to chat with a fisherman. He told us that he’s the only fisherman left at Green Point now although there had been about 30 at one time. He also mentioned only another two or three in the neighbouring small coves, and they’re all over sixty. He wonders what will happen to the fishery when they’re gone since there are no young people interested in taking it on. It’s the story we keep hearing.

We hiked to Western Brook Pond next, a striking fjord in Gros Morne Park. It was formed by a glacier which, when it melted, left a fjord 16 km long (10 miles) with 650 metre (2000 foot) cliffs on each side. During the summer, you can take a boat tour of the fjord. It wasn’t an option today, but it was still spectacular to see.

IMG_20181006_162317.jpg

I think my favourite part of the day, however, was at the Lobster Cove Head lighthouse. We went there last night to see the sunset and returned this morning to explore the trails and the lighthouse keeper’s house.

What a treasure trove of history and culture! The house is set up as a home and has many stories, photos, hands-on materials. Not just about the lighthouse and its three keepers and their families, but also those who used to live nearby. Since the light of the lighthouse had to be kept lit at all times, the families in the area tended to congregate at the lighthousekeeper’s house for social gatherings. There were first person tales of music, storytelling, games and food shared.

We wandered down the path to where the lighthousekeeper’s family had their vegetable garden and then further down to the rocky beach. So much to see in the tidal pools.

IMG_20181006_120434.jpg

And in the distance, a few remaining fishing huts in Lobster Cove.

IMG_20181006_112621.jpg