The big day. We planned to climb the big mountain, Gros Morne itself. There had been a wicked rainstorm overnight, complete with thunder and lightening. But thanks to our new tarps, we all stayed dry in our tents - yay! Dave and I got up around 6:30 and went for a mini-hike up Berry Hill, the campground's namesake. It is a very round and compact hill with a gorgeous view (that I cannot share since I didn't think to take my camera on our walk.) It took about an hour to hike up and back, and was quite steep, but with good resting spots along the way. According to Parks Canada: "Berry Hill is a low rock knob that was an island during higher sea-levels just after the last ice age. Rocks polished by waves 10,000 years ago are still visible on its flanks."
By the time we got back to the campsite, Mark and Valerie were up. We had brought those individual cereal boxes for breakfast (one package had healthy varieties, one package had the sugary stuff). In an attempt to rouse the kids out of the tents, Mark called to them that we were only opening the healthy package this morning, so they best hurry up, 'cause last one to the table is stuck with the All Bran. (One of those you had to be there moments of silliness, but totally cracked me up!)
The morning skies were overcast, but looked to be clearing, so around ten o'clock we headed off to the Gros Morne Mountain / James Callaghan hiking trail...the most challenging in the park. It's a 16 km loop, rising 400 metres gradually over the 4kms to base camp, and another 400 metres straight up the mountain to the top. It was a beautiful hike to base camp, up through the woods and across wide open spaces.
Eight of us started out, but K's foot was too sore for such a strenuous trek, so she and Valerie stopped at the look-off, about 2kms in.
M waffled what to do...she didn't want to leave K, but she also wanted to keep going. She decided to hike to base camp (another 2kms), and then come back and hang with K. So off we went...M skipping up like a gazelle, the rest of us trailing along behind her.
Finally we reached base camp, where we stopped for a snack and to rehydrate. Spectacular views from up here...and a real appreciation for the grueling hike to the top.
M was very pleased with herself for coming this far!
The rocky gully in the middle of the above photo is the path to the top of the mountain. The signs weren't exaggerating when saying it was a very strenuous hike, and stressed that people must not underestimate this mountain. As we approached base camp, I looked at the gully and made a comment that there were no hikers ascending. Mark said "oh yes there are" And pointed out the little dots here and there in the gully. I said "but they aren't even moving." Mark said "oh yes, they are!" Yikes, they were so high up, I couldn't discern any movement - had thought the dots were trail markers of some kind!
M decided she wanted to keep going, she wanted to meet this challenge....Dave and I made sure she knew what she was getting herself into, and I also assured her that I knew K would totally understand and be happy that M got to climb after all. I handed my new fleece/windbreaker combo jacket over to her, knowing she'd need it at the top where there was apt to be snow. (To give you an idea of the ecosystem up there, it is home to such critters as artic ptarmigan.) Sarah (Val's middle daughter) also made a last minute decision to make the climb. So I headed back on my own to hike the 2 kms back down to the look-off and rejoin Valerie and K.
When I got there, K told me excitedly that they had decided to take the boat up Western Brook Pond instead of climbing. Awesome, I thought, that is exactly the thing I wanted to do the most while in Gros Morne! Not that I wouldn't have done the climb and been thrilled and proud to have done so, but...the fjords were what called to me. Slight snag...I'd given my fleece and windbreaker to M when she decided to climb to the top. I wasn't cool when hiking up, but the day was not warm, so I soon needed more than short sleeves. Fortunately, M had left my white hoodie behind with K, so I had that to wear. Oh wait, another snag...my purse was in the trunk of my car, and Dave had the keys. I was definitely NOT climbing up after them! So I had no money. Valerie joked that I was at her disposal, she could decide what I ate, where I went, etc. Ok, that works for me! :)
On to Western Brook Pond we went...I'll post those photos in a separate entry.