Friday, July 23, 2010

The Roads Of Labrador

One of the reason for going to Labrador this year was the news that the Trans-Labrador Highway (TLH) would be open for private vehicles for the first time. Until this summer, it wasn't possible to drive from Newfoundland all the way to Goose Bay and south into Quebec. One had to drive to Cartwright and take the ferry instead. You can still take the ferry, but once the road is finished at the end of the summer, the car ride ferry will end.

In Red Bay where the Basques used to render the whales they caught in the 1500's, the TLH switches from pavement to gravel. There is also a gate which opens only when the road is passable. We gassed up the car and headed out wondering what it would be like. We'd heard a few tales of woe..

It wasn't long before we were passed by another vehicle and got to see the dust. By the time we got back on pavement we'd collected enough dust to make our own road! We began to pray for rain...

The good news was finding that the road was maintained in excellent shape by a series of graders working full time. I live on a gravel road and know what regular grading can do to keep a gravel road passable. In Labrador it was common to see the graders pulling a truck so that at the end of his shift, the operator can park his machine and drive back home.

The new section heading to Goose Bay was passable, but a 30 kms section was pretty rough. Parts were still being blasted out of the rock, lightly covered with rubble and gravel and called a 'detour'. We'd met folks pulling large trailers who'd told scary stories of their transit of this section, but our van managed to get through with only a few scrapes. Had it really rained and there been mud, I'd probably be writing this from the bush somewhere...

Was the trip worth the effort? You bet it was! Instead of a long boring drive through muskeg and black spruce, we were continually amazed and intrigued by what we saw.


Tony said...

Great stuff Michael. One of these years I'm gonna find my way to Labrador and get my paddle wet along this rugged coast. For now, I'm content to follow our adventure.


Michael said...

Highly recommended Tony. There is lots to explore along the coast either as day paddles or as multi-day trips.