Tuesday, July 23, 2019
The goal of the day was to hike Gros Morne Mountain for the spectacular views from the top. It is an 8-hour difficult hike. The parking lot was filled when we got there a little before 9:00. As we read the board, a young lady was coming down. I asked her if she was done, and she said she was. They had only gotten to the base when her friend pulled a muscle. She pointed to the map and said, “This is the easy part, and this is the hard part.” The hard part was the loop around the mountain, while the easy part was getting to the base.
It took us two hours to get to the base. Rocks, roots and mud slowed our travel. There were stairs to climb and some areas with boardwalks. At the base, a guided group, and others like us, rested for the climb. Looking across a valley, we saw a rock slide ravine going up the mountain. People were lined up, climbing the rock scrabble. I was reminded of the pictures of lines of climbers on Mt. Everest.
Always the smart one, Martha said she was going back. Always the stupid one, I took some of the food, and set out behind the guided group. As I walked across the valley, a man with a big pack and walking stick was coming down. He was camping and hiking at the top, intending to stay a week, but he got sick and lost his cooking pot, so had to come back down.
“Why not go up the trail to the right?”, I asked. A teen-aged, lovely girl said, “It’s too steep. See these tight contour lines?” “The scrabble is not as steep as it appears.” a young man said, leveling his hand at about 30 degrees. “Uh huh”, I said. A man in his 50’s, who had already fallen, asked, “What’s the worst that can happen? They can get a helicopter right up there.”
The guide said they usually allow an hour to get to the top. Well, that didn’t sound too bad. I figured the rest was all downhill. The mountain is 800m, not unlike our Appalachian Mountains. In fact, these are the Appalachians, and we had already come half way.
The first 45 minutes wasn’t too bad, but the second was a bitch. Just when you think you’ve made it, there is a turn and more mountain awaits, then again and again.
Finally getting to the top exhausted, there was actually more mountain as the loop led up and over to the other side for the classic view of Long Pond. Rocks, more rocks to walk on. I sat and ate a chocolate bar, remembering from my Appalachian Trail hike that the muscles need sugar, instant energy. My legs were cramping, so I took a spoonful of mustard.
Although this stretch didn’t look so hard, it was longer than it appeared. I tried to take it easy, but my legs were cramping, so I stopped for more water and mustard. I could see I didn’t have enough water.
Over the top and down the other side, I caught up with the guided group resting. A man with an english accent was in constant conversation with the guide. Off and on throughout the day, I heard them talking. She said the interior of Newfoundland is beautiful, much like this. No one lives there, for the most part, but some treckers love to hike it.
Over the top and down the other side, the trail turns left and up to the spectacular view that everyone comes for. For 15 minutes I stood there taking pictures and just looking. For miles in the distance, the “Long Range” seem to go on forever with alpine lakes, snow and waterfalls. If you wanted to hike out there, you would need very good GPS, as it all looks the same, and all of these mountains go straight up and straight down. It is a nightmare to think of hiking down to cross a valley and then climb the other side. No wonder no one lives in the interior, but with all those lakes and beautiful, pristine streams are there fish?
Going back down to the base was torturous. It is highly technical with so many rocks and ravines cutting through dense bushes and short trees. You have to find a proper place for your foot to land at every step, then lift your other leg over a boulder. Grabbing tree limbs helped steady the climb down, but were sometimes sharp enough to cut your hands, and sometimes they smacked you in the face.
Of course this was a walk in the park for the fit, young people. There were some kids along, from about 5 to 10 years old. I was amazed how easy it was for them, however one was really struggling on the rock scrabble going up. Young people kept bounding past me. Then people trickled by on their way up. It was getting late in the day to be doing that. You would not want to walk up or down in the dark, but then, it doesn’t get dark until after 9:30, and the best pictures would be taken then.
It seemed to take forever to get back to the base, and I knew it was two hours down from there, so I kept moving. I caught up with the guided group again, and the man with the english accent was still talking. This section seemed difficult this morning, but now was relatively easy. The mud we struggled to get around this morning, I just walked through. Some was deep though, so I had to work around it. A handsome, young Japanese teenager had his shoe sucked off in the mud, and I retrieved it for him.
Cramping again, I took my last sip of water and a spoonful of mustard. 20 minutes later I arrived at the parking lot where Martha waited. She said it was like watching the end of a marathon. Good analogy. I drank a lot of water and got in the truck. As we got to the campground, I cramped up again and had to get out and walk around.