Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Canadian National Parks’ category

Western Brook Pond

Wednesday afternoon, July 24, 2019

One of the highlights of the park is a cruise up Western Brook Pond. There is a 45-minute walk in. They want to make sure you get your exercise in Gros Morne! We were almost last in line, and watched people scramble for seats on top, the front of the boat and the rear. We were left with inside seats, not the best for taking pictures. After a short while, I found a spot up front, which was fine.

This fiord was made first by colliding of tectonic plates and then carved out by multiple glaciers. There was an opening to the sea at first, but then closed off. Our narrator said this is some of the purest water on Earth. There are very few nutrients here, so there are no fish. Magnificent cliff walls line the fiord with waterfalls in many places, one being called Pissing Mare Falls.

Our narrator pointed out a rock slide that occurred at a precise time on a certain date. They knew because a tour boat was traveling by. They had given us emergency instructions at the beginning of the cruise. Now I could see the possibility of a bad emergency in this very cold water. 

The last 20 minutes of the ride became a music festival, as our guide played Newfoundland music while he played the spoons, and then passed several pair around for others to try. Martha took right to it. 

As we got off the boat, several boys pointed out trout sitting under the docks, and there were some big ones.

Geology Lecture

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Green Point and was our view in back of our campsite

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Green Point with two Adirondack chairs in the distance

Green Point with two Adirondack chairs in the distance

At 10:00 we went to Green Point to hear a geology lecture. Chris Rohrback gave the talk, and she was great. She has a way of making a difficult subject simpler and fun. It is the eroded remnants of a mountain range formed 1.2 billion years ago. “The park provides a rare example of the process of continental drift, where deep ocean crust and the rocks of the earth’s mantle lie exposed.” (Centre, UNESCO World Heritage).

Gros Morne became a national park 1973, but it was for the geological studies that it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The complex nature of a tremendous upheaval a billion years ago made for a lifetime study by Robert Stevens and Harold Williams, who established the concept of tectonic plate movement. 

This site offers a unique, exposed view of the plates turned vertical so you can readily see all the layers. Chris explained how the world was one supercontinent, before Africa and Europe pulled away, drifting to the east, leaving parts of Africa and Spain along the east coast of Newfoundland. Parts of these Appalachian Mountains went with Europe and can still be seen today.

These mountains were the size of the Himalayas. Thousands of years of erosion have reduced their size, and glaciers gouged out U-shaped valleys, pushing boulders all the way to the ocean and this beach. There are layers of sediment, shale (compacted mud), limestone, soapstone and whatever the other one was. “Here geologists discovered fossils that define the boundary between the Cambrian and Ordovician periods and makes Green Point a world geological benchmark.” (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nl/grosmorne/activ/decouverte-tours/gp)

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Once a thriving fishing village, there are many restrictions today.

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One or two still fish from this great spot

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Hiking Gros Morne Mountain

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

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Great shower house at Greenpoint Campground

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Love site #14 at Green Point

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. 

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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.

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“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.

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Looking back down the rock scrabble

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Still more to climb

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.

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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.

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Rocks, rocks and more rocks

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?

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Heading back down

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.

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Back at the junction of the loop. The young girl had been right. Going up the right side would have been more difficult.

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.

Moving to Gros Morne National Park

Monday July 22, 2019

It was about a two-hour drive to Gros Morne National Park, the jewel of Newfoundland. We made our way to Green Point Campground and checked in. While Martha checked in, I talked to two ladies riding their bikes with all the camping gear on board. They started at the Ferry and were on a three-week trip. They don’t carry food, so they eat all their meals out, which requires a lot of planning. They were staying in the campground and would take the cruise tomorrow.

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Our site was lovely, in a grassy area with woods behind. At the edge of the woods were two Adirondack chairs and a table looking out on the Bay of St. Lawrence and a tiny fishing village with its man-made harbor. There was a very modern, beautiful shower house that made Martha very happy. There was even a WIFI tower, unheard of for a national park. Perfect!!

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The Coastal Trail starts in the campground, so after riding in the truck all morning, we were ready to stretch our legs. It’s a 6k return walk out and back, following an old mail route taken with sled dogs. Bushes are swept back by obviously powerful winds. Underneath was very cool and offered some protection from winds and rain. A few geese rested in the grass. 

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The bikes of the ladies we met earlier, who are biking Newfoundland for three weeks.

 

We started a fire, fixed a drink and enjoyed a beautiful, cool evening. 

Wild Pacific Trail

October 9, 2017

We walked the Wild Pacific Trail central section in Ucluelet. It is a beautiful trail along the rocky coast with benches to sit and admire the beauty. Eagles, blue herons, sea gulls lots of small birds inhabit the area, along with some wolves. Keep your puppies close warned a sign. There are stunning views around every bend. We took a little loop through an ancient cedar forest. I had no idea cedars could grow so big.

We cruised the little upscale town, but it is Thanksgiving holiday, so all businesses were closed. We were surprised by the number of vacation houses, hotels and resorts. Bike paths went through town, and hiking trails went along the coast. It’s a very pretty area that is probably very busy in summer.

At 52 degrees, it was a great evening to sit by a big fire. Martha made a great split pea soup and bread warmed over the fire. We walked down to the beach for sunset. It is a beautiful beach with a lot of character – rock outcropping, trees and pounding surf.

Move to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Sunday, October 8, 2017

I made buckwheat pancakes for breakfast. Love those things! We started to pack up to move to Pacific Rim National Park on the west coast of the island whenBrian was getting ready to walk the dog. He had all kinds of suggestions of places to go. I asked about a campground around Victoria, and he had a good suggestion for that as well. Soon Leslie came out in her PJ’s with a list she had made for us last night. Geez, what nice people! They teach at Brentwood College prep School in Mill Bay where students come from all over the world. They get 100% acceptance to college and 85% get their college of choice. Everyone has to be involved in academics, athletics and art. Some go to UVA, and rowing is a big sport. We enjoyed talking for almost an hour. I gave Brian my blog card as he left to walk the dog. He was quickly back as he read my last name was Wall. His is Carr, but he has a lot of relatives named Wall, some in northern Virginia. We’re going to have to do some research on this. We could be cousins!

I took a few pictures of our excellent campsite overlooking Strait of Georgia. Then we set out for Pacific Rim. I knew the road wound through the mountains and was an old logging road. It was fine until the last 20 miles when it got really bumpy and rough, but it was OK. Just had to go slowly. Stopping at the information center, Martha got some maps and brochures. A lady spoke to us as we were leaving. She was from the island, but moved to Ontario and was just returning. She also had suggestions of where to go and wished us well. We found our way to Green Point Campground and stopped at the gate. The ranger said a bear had been visiting the campground, so we should keep our site clean and to store all food. Fortunately there are no Grizzlies on the island.

The campsites are huge and very private in a dense forest on a bluff above beautiful Long Beach. Although a generous site, the entrance was a bit narrow, and I had to do a lot of finagling to wiggle the trailer through. Once set up, we walked down the trail to the beach. The tide was out, but the Pacific Ocean was crashing onto big rocks and to the wide, sand beach. We walked to a rock outcropping and climbed up to a beautiful view.

It was a perfect evening to sit by a fire, have a glass of wine or beer and watch the sun go down over the Pacific. Leftovers are nice for such an occasion. Just heat them over the fire.

Hiking Maple Grove and Hopewell Rocks

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36℉ at 6:00 and a high of 57℉

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

It was chilly when we started the Maple Grove hike at 9:30, but it went up a mountain, so I was soon shedding layers. We stayed quiet as were sure we would see a bear or moose. Nothing! Well, the cute little squirrels were talking to us. A small cabin greets you at the top with an inside and outside fireplace. It is only open in the winter for those who will snowshoe to the top. After we came down there was a short hike to Dickinson Falls. This was a beautiful area, looking like a Japanese garden with walkways all along the small stream that runs through the golf course above. The golf course reminds me of the old course at the Homestead in Virginia. It is only nine holes, but it is beautiful. No one was on it!

We came back to camp for sandwiches and then drove back east 35km to Hopewell Rocks. On our way out of town, we stopped at the bakery and picked up some bread, sticky buns and cookies stuffed with dates, sampling the cookies as we drove. We arrived at Hopewell rocks along with a bunch of others including a couple of bus tours. Of course there are the huge swings in tides here. Though hundreds of years the waters have eroded rocks into islands with peculiar shapes. Ripley visited the spot in the 30’s and wrote an article the paper and his name stuck – Ripley’s Flower Pot. A man was guiding a bus tour through the rocks, and we tagged along. He was great, telling stories about the rocks, seaweeds and things that lived in the muddy waters of the Petitcodiac River. One of the seaweeds has a gelatinous material that is used to make ice cream and toothpaste. 

Leaving Hopewell Rocks, we took the scenic Lighthouse Route back. The road was rough, small and wound through some rough country, but parts of it were extraordinary. So many marshes followed the route, I was drooling. We followed a road to Point Enrage. I questioned our wisdom as we drove this little, windy, rough road, but when we ended up at the top of a cliff, the views were incredible looking back up the river toward Moncton. A lighthouse sits on the cliff protecting a very dangerous point. We could see and hear the tide rushing past those rocks. We talked with two young brothers visiting with their cousin. They live in Moncton and told the story of their parents who were walking along cliffs looking for fossils. They were so engrossed in what they were doing, they didn’t notice the quick tides coming in and their return route was cut off. They told of people getting hurt or killed in these situations all the time, but their parents somehow were able to climb the cliffs to escape the dangerous waters. They talked about how beautiful this place was, yet so difficult to describe or photograph.

Returning to the Lighthouse Route, we passed more beautiful marshes and huge, long beaches. This is a rough environment a long way from anything. There are houses, but not many, and most are very modest. I remember passing one dilapidated house and barn with the most spectacular views. The windy road led us back to Alma on the edge of Fundy National Park. We stopped at the takeout place for some clam fritters, but they were closed. 

Lighthouse Route and Fundy National Park

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45℉ at 6:00 with high of 58℉

Sunday, October 9, 2016

We packed up and drove south on Rt 11 for an hour before turning onto the coastal road, called the Lighthouse Trail. It was a good move as it was beautiful. The road is right on the coast with little houses and farms along the way. There were funny-looking things in the water that I think were for oyster farming. We passed a couple of men up to their butts digging for clams, or maybe oysters. The route goes out on a peninsula where there is a bridge to Prince Edward Island, but we cut across to Moncton. Driving through downtown, Moncton looks like a nice city. There is a beautiful walkway along the Petiticodiac River. We stopped and went over to see if we could catch the tidal bore as the muddy river bed was totally empty. People were out walking and jogging on this Thanksgiving Sunday, a pleasant morning. Soon we could see the water rushing in, although there wasn’t a big wave. This is the area where tides change up to 34 feet.

Crossing the river and turning along the south shore of New Brunswick, we passed a lot of campers returning home. At the eastern edge of Fundy National Park is a cute little coastal village of Alma. Martha drooled at the shops, seafood restaurants and two seafood markets. By the time we got to the Visitor’s Center, it was sprinkling rain. The nice young lady told us all about the park and where to go look for moose. Fishing was closed for the season. The campground was full and not as private as Kouchibouguac, but it is OK. We were lucky to get settled before the rains came harder. 

After lunch we went to the Visitor’s Center for WIFI. Finally I could connect to the WIFI and catch up on posting. I spent some time categorizing the posts, a tedious job, but I got a lot done before getting bored. Rt 114 runs right through the park. We drove north, stopping at a beautiful overlook. Nova Scotia loomed in the fog. We drove on to Caribou Trail to look for moose. A beautiful place for moose, we took a couple of pictures, but it was windy and raining, the worst kind of cold, so we drove and explored for a while, finding a great lake to kayak when the weather gets better. No moose were spotted. Maybe on a warmer evening, we could dress better and wait. 

During cocktail hour, we read the park brochure, and it’s a good one. It does the normal descriptions of trails and things to do in the park, but also has a map of Alma, listing all the stores and places of interest. Then there is a page in the back describing places to see along the southern coast of the Lighthouse Route.

We ate the last of the lobster Newburg over toast and a sweet potato with lobster sauce. Yum!

Kayaking Black River and Hiking Claire Fontaine Trail

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42℉ at 5:00 and 75 at 3:00

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Kayaking the Black River was the goal of the day. Since we just have one kayak, I went first to test the waters while Martha hiked the Claire Fontaine Trail. They haven’t had much rain, so the river was low. The tide was out, adding to the problem, but I enjoyed exploring for a little over an hour. I found a lot of ducks and some shore birds. Then the wind kicked up and I returned to the put-in spot. Shortly Martha returned from her hike, saying how much she enjoyed it. She opted to sit and read her book while I took the hike. Although the river is pretty, the leaves took center stage. We had our lunch at a picnic table in the sun, enjoying the view.

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Driving back, we stopped at Callanders Beach, which is on the sound. By now, the tide was in pretty good. It’s a couple of hundred yards to the beach, so I tried walking  across. Martha said she would wait. Once up to my knees at about 75 yards, I chickened out. Surely it would be fun in the summer. This is a gorgeous place, rich in fish, clams, lobsters, deer and moose. Like the Shenandoah National Park, they made a lot of people mad when they took their homes and farms, but it saved a beautiful place for generations.

Martha made Lobster Newburg with the extra lobsters. It was wonderful!

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Lobster and a Bike Ride

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44℉ at 5:00 with a high of 77℉

Friday, October 7, 2016

It’s Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, so everyone is out, and the campground is quickly filling up. The weather forecast is great, except Sunday it is supposed to rain. We needed a few things from the grocery, so we drove to Saint-Louis (not THAT St. Louis!). As we crossed the river into town, a huge Acadian flag greeted us, waving in the light breeze. It is a French flag with a star on it. Martha had read about an outdoor store, so we stopped in. Obviously a busy place, they were well-stocked for fall, winter and hunting season with coats, gloves, boots, ski pants and shirts. Martha found a mid-weight coat she liked. 

There is a south end of the park here, so we asked how to get there. Following the road in front of the store, we arrived at a dock with fishing boats, a little sandwich shop and sheds where boats could store their gear. Martha read a park sign and thats all there was. There were no trails, just the docks. Martha said, “Let’s see if we can buy some lobsters”, so I followed her. Several crusty locals were talking on the dock, and she walked right up to them, her purse slung over her shoulder. They were quite happy to tell us how it all worked, and yes, you just wait for a boat to come in and go ask. A huge tractor trailer was pulling a boat of the water for the season. One gentleman was particularly friendly, talking about how warm it had been, and how it had been a good season for lobsters. Martha asked how you cook them, and they gave their directions. A younger man, looking more worldly came out of a building. His English was excellent. He had been an underwater welder, working in the middle east for a while and living in Vancouver for a long time. He had a girlfriend in the Bahamas, but had move back here to look after his sick father, and was working here as a boat mechanic. 

They pointed out a boat that had somehow slipped by us while we were talking, so we thanked them and went over to talk to the captain. One fellow pulled out his plastic bag to put lobsters in. I ran up to the truck to find something while Martha asked all about lobsters, how to cook them, whether you want girl or boy lobsters and what size is best. Only a little grey-haired lady could get away with asking all these things, but they were very friendly and answered all the questions and talked about other issues as well. A young man working the boat grew up right here next to the docks. Another gentleman lived nearby. When the government started the park, they gave the young man’s grandmother $1000 for her house. The older man said he had 35 acres on the other side of the river and they gave him $400 for it. There was no negotiating. Then the older guy got onto US politics. Everyone here is fascinated with the election. They watch the debates, and they all think Trump is crazy. I don’t talk politics, so I tried to redirect to Canada’s new president. They seem to like him, saying the previous administration did nothing. We bought four “market” lobsters at $6.75/lb. The others bought “canners”, smaller lobsters they said tasted better. We bought females, as they suggested eating the eggs.

As we drove back to the grocery store for some other things we needed, we debated about when and how to cook the lobsters. We settled on cooking them for lunch, so we started a fire, got out the kettle and other things. While Martha tended the fire, I went to the beach to get sea water, one of the suggestions. We decided to cook two and eat them while the other two cooked. Then we would pick the second ones and later make a lobster Newburg. It was a great feast! It was also a big mess, but we were glad to have newspapers and a picnic table to eat on, with trash cans nearby.

After resting our tummies for a while, we rode the bikes upriver for an hour. There are extensive bike paths, which are fine gravel roads – very smooth with no ruts. Signs marked directions for marathon runners, who will race here Sunday. I couldn’t understand the signs, but since Martha has run a few half marathons, she translated for me. Some signs were for half marathoners, some for 10K, and they directed them into different turns and told them how far they had run. It is a beautiful place for a marathon, especially with the leaves in full color. We passed some kids picking apples off a tree with sticks. We commented about how the bears would come by here tonight. I counted 12 bear poops in the trail along our journey. 

Tomorrow we will try kayaking one or two of the rivers. One more kayak would be nice. It was interesting to sit out in camp and watch the campers rolling in – big campers! Kids were having a big time riding their bikes around, while others chased on foot. One trailer across from us had some kind of light show after dark while little kids ran around chasing lights, screaming with joy. Some had set out carved pumpkins and balloons. Thankfully, things quieted down at bedtime. I’m sure they slept well.