The following is a description of 15 days self-organized trip from St. John's, Newfoundland, to Woody Point/Gros Morne area, that my wife Lidia and I undertook in the summer of 2008.
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JULY 7 - 11
Stopped in Trepassey Bay's museum to get some information on Francesco
De Pinedo . He was a famous Italian pilot that in 1927 flew to South America,
North America and, via Canada, had stopped in Trepassey Bay before flying back
to Italy via the Canaries. Nobody knew anything about him. And, because of the
thick fog I couldn't even take a picture of the bay.
NOTES: From Cape Spear we drove to La Manche Provincial Park; (57 km.). We stopped first at the Bay Bulls information centre to get direction to the park entrance.
From the parking lot in the park, we walked the 1.4 Km rocky trail to the site of the destroyed village of La Manche. In fact, during a winter storm, a huge tidal wave entered the narrow funnel-like harbour on January 25, 1966 and washed away just about everything.
We crossed the river along the fairly new suspended bridge and further on, while walking along the trail (part of the east coast trail), we met a couple of girls and one of them told us that her grandfather had his house destroyed by that same storm; the house can be seen along the trail.
NOTES: Situated north of St. John's in the picturesque Torbay area. There are various entry point along the highway, but not easily identifiable.
NOTES: Drove to Manuels River Linear Park, in Conception Bay South, via Pouch Cove; not easy to get to it this way.
Interesting geological formation and fossils along the banks of the river.
We had made reservations to arrive in Woody Point for the 17th, so we had a fee days to roam free on our way to Gros Morne. Left St.
We left John's in the rainy/foggy morning towards Bonavista peninsula with no reservation and no specific place where to stop. It rained and it was foggy just before reaching Clarenville.
Just before Clarenville we stopped at the roadside Information Centre to look for advice and possible accommodation.
It was suggested to go to Trinity area for two reasons: a great world famous hiking trail - Skerwink - and the renowned Trinity Pageant.
We agreed, and we are very glad we did; both suggestions are well worth spending a couple of days here, which we did.
As for accommodation we were lucky to get a spot at the Rolling Hills B & B in Dunfield; Ed and Margaret are great host and they serve a great breakfast.
A few days before our arrival a fair size iceberg had entered the small harbour in Dunfield and was still there, all in its glory, when we left 3 days later. Beside observing the berg from the village docking area, there was another viewpoint along a trail on the way to the Fort Point dirt road. This was the location site of the movie "The Shipping News".
*** On Saturday afternoon we attended the Pageant presented by the local Rising Tide Theatre. The historical recreation interpreted by a large group of talented actors in costume, with songs, music and story telling, takes place at various scenic spots along the lanes, road and church of the well kept Trinity Bight village.
The outdoor play started at 2 pm and ended at 4:30 pm.
*** Took a drive to Bonavista; on the way we stopped to see the puffins colony at Elliston.
*** In Bonavista we took a tour of the "Matthew", a replica of the caravel used by Giovanni Caboto on his trip to Canada (the tour guide was not too impressive).
*** Also visited the Ryan Premises National Historic Site
NOTES: The Skerwink is a great and not a too demanding trail to walk. Selected by Travel and Leisure magazine as one of the top 35 walks in North America and Europe. With several sea stacks, along the trial often hugging the edge of the cliffs, and the panoramic lookout, with a bench, over Fort Point Goose Cove and Trinity, it is indeed quite spectacular.
When asking peoples about what are some of the great places to visit, invariably, all said "you must go to Twillingate". And so, on our slow way to Woody Point, we took a detour to Twillingate.
NOTES: A great spot to visit is the Sea Breeze Municipal park area situated in the little town of Crow Head just outside Twillingate; great sunsets and short but steep trail from the Long Point Viewing platform.
There are a few other trails in this area but we decided that it was time to get to Gros Morne!
JULY 15 - 16
We stayed at:
Parson's - Efficiency unit
Spruce Grove Cabins
Up until now we hadn't seen a moose on the loose ... but wait ... as soon as we entered the boundaries of Gros Morne National park, low and behold, on the side of the road, two cow moose one was with a calf. We saw several others moose in the following few days in the park.
NOTES : We started the hike at 9:30 am and arrived at the base at 11:00 am; the top of Gros Morne started to get cloudy; It is recommended that if the top is obscured by clouds/fog not to continue the climb; it finally cleared at around 3 pm. We had no intention of going up anyway (we did it last year), but the clouding was a good excuse to use...
Today's (July 16) temperature reached 27 0C
JULY 17 - 21
We stayed at:
Victorian Manor Efficiency units
NOTES : Yesterday, after Gros Morne, we booked for today's Tablelands 10:00 guided tour.
A very interesting and comprehensive tour given by Fred, a local school teacher
Today's (July 16) temperature reached 30 0C.
NOTES : We started from the Long Pond parking lot (second one if coming from Woody Point) at 10:00
Overcast, with 20 0C temperature.
When we started, we were not sure if to do the loop or just hike the first 4 Km. to the beach and come back. Once at the beach, and after exploring the pillow lava stacks, we decided to proceed for the long loop. From the beach to the second campsite spot is a fairly easy 2.4 Km. walk, although not all in good shape; had to bypass a bridge of sort which was in bad disrepair and consequently blocked, and had to walk down to the rocky beach; if the tide is high and the sea is rough I estimate that this spot is practically impossible to navigate.
Also in some spots the trail was flanked by high stinging nettles, so shorts are not recommended. At the second camping spot, I missed the deviation to the trail, which was on the right. Unfortunately the signpost was at about 50 meters from the junction and hanging at 45 degrees on one side .
The trail up to this point is also covered by vast patches of blu flag iris, quite spectacular, even at the time of our visit, when most flowers were off bloom.
We lost precious minutes(45 in total) by proceeding on the left and when confronted by steep cliff overlooking the sea on my left, a dense forest in front and steep climb on the right, with no sign whatsoever of a trail, I realized that something was amiss.
While backtracking to the campsite and scouting for a sign of some kind I noticed a ladder far off at the beginning if the forest (now on my left).
Also you will encounter sheep browsing in complete isolation in this idyllic spot ... and you know what sheep do after browsing on grass ... lots of the stuff on the trail ...
From the second camp the trail starts to get hard; lots of steep stairs up and down, up and down, gaining/loosing about 150 m. in the 2 kilometres to the fording of Wallace Brook, just above its confluence with the sea.
The water was flowing swiftly, if not too deep, just below the knee in some spots. I decided to hop from boulder to boulder, even though they were not strategically placed. My wife decided to take her boots and socks off and cross barefoot. We both made it across without problems, if at time a bit apprehensive.
This fording is more or less at the mid section of the trail.
From here starts the steady climb, with more ups and downs, back to the trail head. After 2.6 Km. from the first fording we reach the spot for the second fording, if you decide to go back to the Long Pond parking lot (were we had left the car) which is about 4 km away. The idea of fording Wallace Brook once more was not enticing, so we decided to proceed to the Wallace Brook parking lot at 2 Km. In the meanwhile a thunder storm was approaching with fog starting to move in and slight drizzle. Once we arrived at the Wallace Brook parking lot arrived (at 4:30 pm) we had to walk 3 more Km., on the side of the road, to the parking lot where our car was parked.
A car stopped and a strapping young fellow stepped out to take pictures; we asked him if he could give us a ride back to get our car; he bulk at the idea saying that they were going in the opposite direction; an offer of $10 dollars made him change his mind; I jumped in their car leaving my wife and the backpacks behind.
It turned out they were not local peoples, but from Toronto ... no wonder they needed $10 extra bucks for the inconvenience.
As an aside, just before we forded the brook we had met an elderly couple from Sherbrook going in the opposite direction; we stopped to chat. When I picked up my car, the drizzle was a bit more intense, and the couple we had met had just started to walk back to their car where my wife was waiting. I stopped and gave them a ride ... no charge ...
Lots of wild berries along the trail and sweet scented bog candle orchids.
NOTES : Beautiful sunny day; good steep trail; it gaines 300 m. in 2.5 Km..
Great view from the top, thus the Lookout trail ....; on the way up a ptarmigan dust bathing on the trail with one chick, unperturbed it did not move for us for several minutes.
We stayed at: Lucas House B & B (1 night)
Close to the airport
Not much to do in Deer Lake; plan accordingly.