Gros Morne spans the west coast of Newfoundland in what is described as the ‘Galapagos of Geology.’ The rock formations, glacier scars and coastline are so very diverse. We were now deep into the natural wonders of the province and had few souls to share it with
At our first stop, we encountered the ‘Tablelands.’ The Tablelands is an area of rock plateau that is ocean floor that was pushed up. Geologists used this area to prove the existence of tectonic plates, and it is only here that this rock can be found without deep sea diving. There is little nutrients in it, leaving it barren and void of wildlife, standing out as a flat topped giant. We were able to hike up into its folds and were battered by a bit of hail. It seemed every day into October meant a new layer of clothing should be added.
As we left we noticed four moving white blobs moving along the mountainside. Once we made out the horns, it was confirmed, they were a group of Caribou, four of the 500 who live in the park. A big plus for the wildlife count! Nearby was the small coastal settlement of Trout River and from the very south of the park, we made our way to its north end, Cow Head, where our little rental cottage had a very welcome fireplace.
Gros Morne has an ex-fjord. That means it was glacier formed and was once filled with sea water, however when sea levels have dropped it now remains a lake. It is 16km long and around 165 metres deep, with huge flat topped rocks hemming it in from all sides. Its imposing entrance is only the start of its grandeur. It was a few kilometres of hike through low forest, avoiding a few bear scats, that led us to a harbour with one lonely boat. We joined the very last trip of the season to enter ‘the pond’ and gaze up at the steeply rising rocks. It shared so many similarities with Milford Sound. It had waterfalls that got blown away before they could finish cascading names, imaginatively discovered faces in the rocks and names of features with interesting backstories (eg. Pissing Mayor Falls.) Here, the Newfoundland accent appeared to have gained momentum, sounding very twinged with Irish. The Irish roots certainly made themselves more known when we were treated to some music with a very folk and fiddle feel. My favourite, the Newfie stomp.
The park was filled with coastal towns that existed in different levels of existence. There were some where a few families used to live, now marked only by tumbledown buildings or a heritage sign, and some which seemed modern but come 1st October, a cup of coffee became a big ask. The whole place was sleepy with autumnal colours. Having had no success in finding an open fish and chip shop, we went to the grocery store and left armed with snacks, then headed out to the beach to enjoy sunset. At one, the land had appeared to have left behind a row of arches, encompassed at high tide by the water, but still clamberable.
Overnight a storm swirled and the next day was damp and blustery. We turned our attentions to beach clean ups, looking down at what plastic we could salvage rather than battling the gusts. Armed with a bucket of trash and enough driftwood to make ourselves a fire later, we bundled into the car to enjoy a hot chocolate before picking a more sheltered walk. At Berry Head Pond, we stalked quietly the perimeter of the water, before Ricky spotted a moose, who had spotted us also. As she moved away through the dense bush, she was quiet but far from graceful, a big rump to manouver. Happy with our moose count, we headed home to enjoy a glass of wine by the fire.