Everything Gros Morne: A Newfoundland outdoor adventure (Part 1)

From July 1 to July 10th, Sheena and I met with friends Matt, Kris and Karen in  western Newfoundland, for our 10 day adventure to the Gros Morne National Park.  Sheena and Karen joined us this year on our yearly trip and would visit quite a bit of Gros Morne Park while Matt, Kris and I did a backpacking trip through the backcountry wilds, steep terrain and thick vegetation of the Long Range mountains.  For our backpacking trip, our plans were to travel the length of Western Brook Pond, following the North Rim Traverse.  Typically, this trip is supposed to be about 27 kilometres, but the actual travel distance is closer to 35-40 due to the difficult vegetation and terrain.

As with any longer trip, part of the adventure was just getting to Newfoundland. Karen and Matt were flying into Deer Lake, so that was somewhat easier for their part of the IMG_0028travel.  However, Kris, Sheena and I had a few stops along the way.  Sheena and I first left Willow in Moncton (thanks Nana and Papa!) and then drove to Cape Breton where Abigail and Rebecca would spend their time (Thanks Gramma and Grampy). Kris met us in Cape Breton and we all shipped off to take the Ferry from Sydney to Port aux Basques on our overnight crossing to arrive in Newfoundland in the morning.  Dad had lent us his truck for the trip, which made the trip much easier with all our gear.  Also, Sheena had never been to Newfoundland or experienced the crossing, which lead to a bit of anticipation on her part and the mandatory teasing from Kris and I.

We arrived in beautiful weather and kept on to Corner Brook, where we bided some
DSC09952time while waiting for Matt (and Karen) to arrive on their respective
IMG_0074 flights.  Part of our time in the Corner Brook area involved visiting Corner Brook Stream Falls in the Margaret Bowater Park.  Although a bit steep travel, the visit to them was a good diversion from driving.  We also stopped at Marble Mountain Resort, where we took in the spectacular Steady Brook Falls.  These are probably the tallest falls I've ever seen in person.

After our side-tripping, we eventually headed to Deer Lake, where we would pick up
IMG_0063 Matt from his Toronto flight and learn that Karen couldn't arrive until later in the evening as she was flying standby. We headed off to Gros Morne Park and set up in the Berry Hill campground.  This would be our base camp of sorts for the rest of the trip and looked like a hobo camp by the end of the 10 days!  The campground is the typical national park standard, which is reassuring.  It's also centralized for the
IMG_0080 most part to all activities in the park and close to the larger village of Rocky Harbour.  After an evening of board games and conversation, Sheena and I picked up Karen at Deer Lake from her midnight arrival flight.

Most of the trip was planned around our backpacking plans.  Also, when heading to Gros Morne's backcountry, you have to do a bit of preparation once in Newfoundland.  You have to meet with a park ranger, buy boat tickets for the first day of travel and all the while prep for 4 days of backpacking.  In the meantime though, we tried to visit and fill the days as much as we could.  The morning of Day 2, Sheena, Karen and I headed from the campground to visit Bakers Brook Falls, a 10k
DSC09978 return hike through bogland and forest.  The trail is easy, with boardwalks over most of the bog areas for preservation of the habitat.  At the end is Bakers Brook Falls, which has two sets of wide drops, making for an impressive display.  I tried a quick swim, but was turned away by the cold water.  A little too early!    After we returned to camp, we met with the park representative to go over our plans of travel in the backcountry.  It was interesting, as once he found out we had done the Long Range Traverse ten years ago, it became more of a formality than anything.  We took our transmitter and prepped for the trip with a little bit of Quidi Vidi on the side.

Day 3 was the first official day of our backpacking trip.  It starts with a quick trip to
DSC00002IMG_0103 buy the boat tickets at the Ocean View motel.  A person might wonder: boat tickets on a backpacking trip? Well, to begin hiking, you must first reach the end of Western Brook Pond by boat, then begin your hike out of the gorge.  We decided to enjoy a day at the dock campsite, in order to explore the gorge a bit more as we had done in our last trip.  The ferry was impressive of course, although this time I had a
DSC00023 much better view as we enjoyed a spot at the bow of the boat.  We saw five waterfalls along the tour, Blue Denim Falls, Woody Pond Falls, White Point Falls, Pissing Mare Falls and in the distance, the falls at the end of Western Brook Gorge.  It was interesting to see the repeat of the strange looks we had from tourists as we hopped off the boat in a seemingly remote location in the middle of the boat tour.  Sheena
DSC00024IMG_0139 and  Karen also took the tour, but were on the second boat which lead the way.  They had already said their goodbyes!

The rest of Day 3 involved a steep climb over boulders to visit the site of Pissing Mare Falls, a failed attempt by myself to reach White Point Falls and our glorious introduction to the bugs that we would endure for the rest of the backpacking trip.  I can't remember a time when I had to cover every inch of my skin to prevent an onslaught of bug bites from mosquitoes, black flies, noseeums, houseflies and deer flies.  They seemed to take  shifts depending on the weather conditions. We also looked over our travel for the following three days with a fair bit of anticipation.  This map outlines most of our route, supplied by another visitors travel on the North Rim.

Day 4:  We woke up to slight rain and more mosquitoes, quickly ate our breakfasts
DSC00030DSC00027 and set out upon our hike.  We were to hike and climb our way to  the end of the gorge, following the dry river most of the way.  Once at the end of the gorge you face a steady climb to the top of the headwall just right of the waterfall.  Finding the correct trail is tricky here, as one well worn trail leads too close to the rock face and is actually eroded away at the top, leaving would-be hikers to backtrack and bushwhack their way down to find another way.  This mistravel took a fair bit of our energy, but
DSC00040 eventually would benefit us in one way: allowing the fog to lift for our perfectly framed view down to Western Brook Pond.  We had finally got our photos as this most advertised photo location was fogged in on our last trip years ago.  The rest of the day's travel was fairly easy as we navigated the barrens that lie above Western Brook Pond.  A bit laughable was the site of our first backcountry campsite, a spot that was not as wet
DSC00045 as the surrounding bog, but a bit damp compared to more other type trips we've taken.  So, as we tested the ground for our tent using our boots to find the least water squishing out from under them, we settled in for our much anticipated freeze dried meals topped with trapped black flies! …Continue to Day 5.

(thanks to Kris for some of the photos in this post.  His are the really high quality ones!)

One thought on “Everything Gros Morne: A Newfoundland outdoor adventure (Part 1)

  1. Friggin’ awesome pictures! I want to go…how can I skip the hard hiking part, bugs and constant rain and go right to breathtaking views?


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