Terre Neuve Part Three, Gros Morne

Safely off the MV Atlantic Vision at Port-aux-Basques, we headed northward to Gros Morne National Park. I would love to wax poetic about the scenery, but the fact is that we saw precious little of it due to the tardy arrival of the ferry. Instead, we spent most of the drive on high moose alert, as those none too clever beasts wander out onto the highway with alarming regularity, to the detriment of moose and human alike. If you hit a deer while driving at speed, it is likely to do some damage to your car, to be sure, but the deer is usually bounced off to the side and you and your passengers have a good chance of escaping with minor injuries. An encounter with a moose, by contrast, often ends up with serious injury or death to the inhabitants of the offending car. A moose is quite tall, about six feet at the shoulder, so a car will hit it in the legs, rather than the body; at that point, the moose is launched onto the sloped hood of your car, propelled toward the windshield and passenger compartment, antlers first, at warp speed. There are some 700 moose-car accidents in Newfoundland every year, most of which occur between dusk and dawn (understandably, as these are a) Bullwinkle’s waking hours, and b) the hours of least visibility for the driver), and I was determined not to add to those statistics, hence the high moose alert and low velocity.

We rolled into Gros Morne well after dark (and bear in mind that it gets dark quite late in the summer that far north). We had a cabin reserved at Burnt Hill Cottages in Norris Point, and it was illuminated brightly upon our arrival. About a block from the water, two bedrooms, with all the mod-cons, and clean as a whistle; all for $95 a night. Bright and early in the morning we were up and about, having made reservations for the 10am departure of the Western Brook Pond boat tour, a 2.5 hour voyage up an enclosed fjord, largely unmolested since the ice age. The pond was carved out by glaciers, but after the ice melted, the land at the ocean end, which had been covered by the ice sheet, rose enough to close off the outlet to the sea. Over time the pond filled in with fresh water, including the runoff from the highest waterfall in eastern North America, the giggle-inducing Pissing Mare Falls. The man who named the falls may well have been responsible for the naming of the eastern Newfoundland town of Dildo (no kidding, look it up! Every year they host a festival called Dildo Days, which I plan to attend next year, possibly in costume).

Gros Morne is of major interest to geologists, palaeontologists and numerous other such  –ists as it offers one of the finest examples of continental drift, with areas of deep ocean crust and mantle exposed to the sky. For the rest of us, what this means is that huge variations in terrain can be found in a comparatively small area (desert, ocean, fjords, mountains, forests, plateaus, rock fields, bays, meadows, cliffs, and more), most of which are accessible by car or by foot trails. It is one of the most pristine and beautiful natural destinations I have ever had the pleasure of visiting; I think you’ll have to agree when you see the pics:

Welcome to Gros Morne

Western Brook Pond

 

Usually the bridge holds me up...

Suppertime at Mooseport

Where marine adventures begin, and apparently end...

Why does this make me think of Sarah Palin?

Tablelands, off in the distance...

Tablelands, up close

Aarrgh, me hearties...

This pretty much says it all...

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