Day 13 - September 20, 2013 - Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland, Canada
By Claudia Holgate, Climatologist & Ornithologist
Co-ordinates: 49˚30’38” N, 057˚53’ 15’ W
Weather: Sunny to partly cloudy
Air Temperature: 7° C
Pressure: 1011 hPa
Wind: 23 knots
We awoke this morning refreshed and ready to go at Gros Morne National Park. We had an afternoon activity here yesterday, so Silver Explorer remained at anchor overnight. Our landing site today was at Norris Point, where we were offering our guests two options for their tours for the day. I was on the tour to Western Brooke Pond. After doing a couple of shuttles in the zodiac, I tied up my boat and went off to join the bus that was ready to escort our group of intrepid travellers.
We headed off for about 45 minutes to get to the start of the Western Brooke Pond trail, a 3km flat trail with a gravel path and boardwalks over the peat bogs. It was a very beautiful and easy trail, meandering through small conifer forests and then opening up to the peat bog ecosystem of streams and ponds. The sun was shining and there was little wind, so the conditions were perfect for a walk to the jetty at Western Brooke Pond, were we were to experience this inland Fjord. Technically, it cannot be called a fjord as a fjord needs to be open to the sea, and this isn’t, but the way it was created was the same as any fjord. During previous glacial periods, ice has carved its way through hundreds of metres, creating U-shaped and hanging valleys. During the warm periods, when the glaciers melted, there was less weight on the land and the land rebounded, closing off the fjord to the sea and creating a large pond, with massive cliffs on either side.
We all boarded a small boat that was to take us down to the end of the fjord and back. We had an excellent guide who interpreted the landscape along the way. The weather was perfect, although it was a bit windy and cold on the way back to the jetty, but the guests made the most of the sea shanties that they played and danced to keep warm. Once back at the jetty, we walked the 3km back to the busses before heading back to the pier. Along the way, we stopped at a lookout point, where we could look over Norris Point and the bay where the ship was anchored. After our short photo stop we headed back to the pier and zodiaked back to the ship.
The second tour was a bus tour of the Northern parts of Gros Morne National Park, which also commenced at Norris Point with a fascinating visit to the Marine Research Station, an outpost of Memorial University in St. Johns. Our specialist guides introduced us to several species from the local waters, including young codling, snow crabs and captivating blue lobsters – of almost jewel–like blue hues.
Once on the bus, we headed straight north to Broome Point, some 30-40 miles away. A compact clapper board house, formerly the summer home for a single family, retained its original fittings and despite the sunshine we all felt the benefit of the wood stove as we entered! This would have been the family base for the whole summer, while fishing in the waters immediately below the rock beach, would have supplemented both income and food supplies for the coming winter months. The adjacent sail loft and fishing tackle store came with its own interpreter, who brought the days of seasonal fishing on the Newfoundland reaches to life with his salty tales.
Coming south, our next stop was a brief viewpoint towards Western Brook Pond, and the distinctive geology was more fully explained along with explanation of the boggy floating foreground - which looked of misleading solidity - a dangerous place to trek unless you know where to put your feet. No moose in sight, no creatures, except a banded fury caterpillar.
The final stop brought us to Lobster Cove lighthouse, a typically Newfoundland sight of painted walls and clapperboard house. This provided an eclectic selection of historical information: from the discoveries of the ancient peoples of the area (the Palaeo- Eskimo and the Maritime Archaic Indians) to the arrival by ship of the first motorcar in the area. All too soon, we were heading back to the ship after another excellent day on the Silver Explorer.
Once everyone was back on the ship, we all had a short time before getting ready for recap and briefing. After finding out about our activities for tomorrow and learning a bit about the geology, history and animals that we have seen, everyone headed off to the restaurant for another special dinner.
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