West St. Modeste, Labrador to Rocky Harbour, Newfoundland
Aug 28, 2007
|We awoke about 7:00 AM and looked out the window to find a bright sunny day with no wind and no clouds. Could this really be the same place we were in yesterday?
By 8:00 AM in was indeed the same place. The clouds had moved in and the wind was starting once more. While loading the bike the blackflies came out and pretty much sealed our decision; we are heading back to Newfoundland.
When I was checking out the fellow at the desk asked if we were still heading to Mary's Harbour. He said he loved it up there because he could really get away from it all. This comming from a guy who lives in a town of about 100 people in the middle of a desolate, stormy wilderness. I had to wonder what "all" he was talking about.
Yesterday the guy at the Red Bay museum said it felt like fall and that fall was his favorite time of year with it's cooler temperatures. I guess everyone has their own terms of reference.
In fairness, we obviously visited the Labrador coast too late in the season and during a period of unusually bad weather. Even the local people were complaining about the rain. From all accounts it would appear fall starts about the middle of August.
We headed down to the ferry terminal and arrived about and hour before it was to leave. Once again there was the lineup of people, holding numbers and chatting, waiting to see if they would get on. Fortunately, we were able to get on without a problem and were soon on our way back to Newfoundland.
Once again the trip was smooth and the rain stopped. When we got off the ferry in Newfoundland it was still cool but it seemed much warmer than Labrador and no rain. Yipi!
We headed south along the coast with the intent of taking the 4:00 PM boat tour at Western Brook Pond, located in the north section of Gros Morne National Park. I hardly need to mention which road we are on here. Outside of the few isolated fishing villages along the way, there is literally only one road that runs north south along Newfoundland's north penisula. There are no side roads at all other than the odd road that runs from the highway to the shore.
Along the highway there are piles of fire wood stacked and drying. Some have a little tag or sign attached, most don't seem to. My guess is that there is no need to identify your pile since no one would touch it anyway.
There are home made sleds or sledges sitting beside many of these fire-wood piles. As there are no roads the people use snowmobiles and sledges to haul firewood during the winter and pile it along the highway to dry all summer.
There are also rows and rows of lobster traps lined up along the highway as well as garden plots where it appears the main crop is potatoes. The people here seem to use every accessable bit of space along the highway.
At Cow Head, just north of Western Brook Pond we stopped and made a few phone calls. Firstly we made a reservation for the boat tour. We then booked a room at Parsons Harbour View Resturant and Cottages in Rocky Harbour where we had stayed on the week-end. The third call was to confirm the bike parts I had ordered had arrived in Corner Brook and to try and make an appointment to have them installed Wednesday.
With all our phone calls and arrangements made we headed to Western Brook Pond, which we have heard from everyone is a "must see" in western Newfoundland.
From the parking area it is a 3 km hike to the boat dock on an easy path which took about 40 minutes. It soon became obvious why there are next to no roads in Northern Newfoundland. The terrain is fairly flat but riddled with boggy areas and small ponds. A good portion of the path was boardwalk crossing the bogs.
When we arrived there were two boats at the dock and both were pretty much fully loaded. We got our tickets, boarded and squeezed into a couple of seats at the rear.
Western Brook Pond is a long fiord that cuts through vertical cliffs hundresds of feet high. It is technically not a fiord as it is cut off from the ocean and contains fresh water, therefore it is a pond. In Newfoundland you seldom see the term lake or stream. Here they are ponds and brooks.
This is one very big pond. It is up to 500 feet deep in places and about 14 KM long. The scenery is breathtaking. HIgh cliffs rise nearly vertical above you on both sides and there are many water falls on both sides. The tour took about two hours, not couting the hike in and out, and was well worth the effort. Best of all, we got through the entire tour without rain, although a cold wind wipped up near the end of the boat tour.
We left Western Brook Pond and arrived at Parson's in Rocky Harbour with-in half an hour. It felt like going back to visit your grandparents. When we walked in they met us at the door with the key, saying they had the cabin all ready for us. We then sat down to a wonderful home cooked meal served with plenty of friendly chat. As I have learned time after time during my travels, it is the people you remember most fondly.
After our ill fated trip to the barren wilderness it is good to be back in Rocky Harbour.