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.

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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.

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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.

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Once again, photos don’t do it justice.

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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 Seven: Happy Valley-Goose Bay

It’s been a day of contrasts. We started in Churchill Falls (elevation about 1440 ft above sea level) and tonight we’re in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, elevation 39 ft. Bit of a change!

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We could see it in the landscape along the way. The dark greens and bright yellows of black spruce and tamarack gave way to vivid oranges, reds and yellows of birch, poplar and low deciduous bushes. Steep rocky hills softened into flat sandy valleys as we followed the twists and turns of the Churchill River.

Unfortunately it poured rain all day so my photos were rain-streaked and taken from the car en route.

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With the changing terrain came a difference in wildlife. From road signs warning of caribou, suddenly there was a very large one cautioning about moose.

Still no sightings but in a hike on the Birch Island trail before supper, we did find moose tracks on the beach.

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The hike along the boardwalk through protected wetlands was a highlight of the day. We saw robins, an unexpected sight, and were treated to beautiful colours across Lake Melville and the Mealy Mountains. Lake Melville opens up to the Atlantic Ocean and is, therefore, tidal. The tide was receding when we were there.

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The boardwalk took us into woodlands, across the beach, and through wetlands.

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We had walked for about half an hour when suddenly, the boardwalk ended. Ended as in uncompleted. We had to turn around and walk all the way back again.

All part of the adventure, never knowing how things will turn out!

But this view was worth it!

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Tomorrow is a one of our longer days – about 6.5 hours. We will be heading southeast toward Mary’s Harbour. We’ve heard that a lot of that road is now paved, but not entirely, so we’ll see what awaits!

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!

 

 

Day Two: Tadoussac

We arrived in Tadoussac late afternoon by ferry. It’s a free 10-minute ride across the Saguenay River. Apparently, you can sometimes see whales in the fjord near the ferry.

We didn’t but the scenery was picturesque.

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Before dinner, we followed a short hiking path that took us out to large rocks overlooking the St. Lawrence.

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And then wandered back through the town to find a restaurant for supper.

It’s a quaint community with a long history: a hotel that was originally built in the 1800’s, a chapel with a cemetery dating back to the same era, and a Protestant church built by pioneers. So many of the buildings are white clapboard with red trim.

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Near our B and B I saw several barns that were evidently very old. Oh, the stories they could tell!

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As we walked back to our B and B after supper, the full moon rose over the hills, casting an orange glow on the town below. The colour reminded me of the changing leaves we have been seeing along the way.

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I wonder what surprises tomorrow will bring.

For The Birds!

Birds have been singing up a storm lately when I’ve been out in the woods. They’ve also been busy finding seeds wherever they can. Perhaps they know something I don’t about the coming winter?

Here are a few of my feathered friends.

So Downy! ~jw designs

So Downy! ~jw designs

Hesitating chickadee ~ jw designs

Hesitating chickadee ~ jw designs

Elusive Nuthatch ~ jw designs

Elusive Nuthatch ~ jw designs