July 18 cont'd
We left the Gros Morne mountain hiking area, and drove up the coast about 30 kms to Western Brook Pond...stopping for ice cream along the way, of course! :) The WB Pond trail itself is a gorgeous 3km hike to the landing where you catch the boat tour.
The sign and box on the right of the following photo is the drop box for back country permit returns. Serious hikers can get dropped off at the far end of Western Brook Pond, and backpack through the Long Range Mountains to the base camp at the foot of Gros Morne. The hike takes three+ days, with primitive campsites along the way and is entirely map and compass. Hikers have to register and prove their map and compass skills before being issued a back country permit. We obviously were not interested in this extreme experience - the campground with washrooms, showers and a wood stove was far more to our liking, at least on this occasion!
I love this next photo of K snuggling up to her mommy (if she looks like she's stooping slightly, she is...at age 14, she's already taller than Valerie!)
The trail was a combination of firmly packed gravel path and boardwalks across the bog.
The views of the mountains were absolutely stunning (this is just a small pond along the way, not Western Brook Pond itself.)
We got a kick out of these wild "bonzai" trees! (I don't know what kind of tree they really are.)
The colours and textures of the bog were so beautiful and fascinating. We thought this would be an ideal place to spot a moose, but not a one did we glimpse...Valerie decided that she must emit some kind of moose repellant because we didn't see a single moose the whole time we were in Gros Morne! This in spite of the fact that Gros Morne has one of, if not the, highest density of moose in the world. I believe the guide on the boat told us there are 6 moose per square km in the park! But for the plethora of moose droppings everywhere, I'd start wondering if this whole Newfoundland moose business is a myth to lure in tourists! lol
The following photos are closeups of some of the plants found along the path.
This next photo is of pitcher plants, the provincial flower of Newfoundland...they are also deadly to insects! The plant has a cavity filled with water, insects fly in but are unable to get back out. So they drown and their bodies are absorbed by the plant. Little Shop of Horrors, anyone? :)
Eventually we reached the landing, got our tickets and boarded the boat. The boat tour is not cheap - $100 per family for a two and a half hour tour. Mind you, I had no idea at the time how much the tickets were, since I went as Valerie's guest. (If you recall from my last entry, I had no money. I only found out the cost later that evening when a fellow camper at the park asked her how much and I happened to overhear her answer...then I tried to pay half, but she said no, it was a gift, so I put away my cash, kissed her on the cheek and said Thanks, my friend!)
The woman in the doorway is one of the crew, and we were soon wishing we had one of those red all-weather suits too!
Here is K, at the beginning of the tour, looking cold already! We soon moved to a different spot, because initially we were right under the edge of the canopy...and every time a wave sloshed over the boat, the water then ran across the top of this canopy and straight down on our heads. We decided to sit farther back, out in the open, and take our chances with the direct spray instead! I have to confess it was so wet, windy and chilly as we crossed the first open stretch of water, that I was thinking ugh, another two hours of this?? Ah but then...we entered the fjord and I knew it was all worthwhile! :)
It was tricky trying to take photos - had to ensure the camera didn't get too wet from the waves that were splashing up over the boat! (Heaven forbid we lose yet another camera to water-damage...we'd never live that down!) During the ride across the open part of the pond, I was so surprised that there were sea swells...seriously, not choppy lake waves, real rolling sea swells. I suppose that's not so surprising considering that the "pond" is 16 kms long! Western Brook Pond is a landlocked fjord...used to be open to the sea, but at some point, it was cut off into a separate body of water. When we reached the shelter of the cliffs, the water was much calmer, but still lots of wind and spray! We weren't really dressed for this...I had my sweatshirt but no windbreaker, Valerie had her windbreaker but not the fleece lining. (She pointed out that we had one decent jacket between us, but of course neither of us volunteered our half to the other!)
These photos really don't do the fjords justice, but will give you an idea of the rugged, magnificent beauty of this area. I was awestruck the whole tour, the landscape is just that incredible.
On the right in the photo below is a "hanging valley", where glaciers carved out a valley that didn't reach to the ground.
At one point, the boat was brought in just feet from the shore. The water was very deep, even right up against the cliffs, although I forget just how deep they told us it was. (Maybe Valerie will remember?)
When we first returned, I wrote an entry about the music played at the end of our tour, and how it filled my soul listening to Valerie singing along to the Song for Newfoundland. While the music played, this man got up, clapped his hands and danced a little bit. He was so clearly delighted to be here that we, in turn, were delighted just from watching him. I love when people let their joy shine forth with abandon, it is a wonderful thing to witness! (I try to keep that in mind when tempted to rein in my own joyful abandon, out of self consciousness...I guess if I am uplifted by seeing someone else express their joy, the same is probably true in reverse.)
The three of us, huddling together for warmth, before Valerie had the brilliant idea that we could go stand up by the door inside and at least get out of the wind. In spite of getting soaked to the bone, and feeling more than a little hypothermic by the end, this experience was unbelievably fantastic and wonderful - seeing some of the most breathtaking scenery I could ever imagine, in the company of my best friend, and my "other daughter" :)...I wouldn't have missed this for the world!!