Thursday, August 24, 2006

Newfoundland Diary - Shallow Bay & The Arches

The biggest drawing card in Gros Morne Park, but in my opinion, not the most interesting, is the fresh water fjord called Western Brook Pond. Like the one at Trout River, it too was carved by glacial action and then left high and dry in ancient times. Today it is a fresh water lake guarded by high vertical cliff faces filled with hanging valleys, lace-like water falls and volcanic dikes. Walking the 2.5 km trail into the valley for the 2 hour boat trip down it's length is well worth the effort, although the whole time we all wanted to land and hike one of the narrow cleft valleys to the heights above where, of course, we would be photographed in the classic 'Gros Morne' pose seen in many ads for the place.

We were drawn to other places, Cow Head being one. Just the name by itself was intriguing. We never saw a cow's head there, but the place did offer a tiny RV park near the beach, just off the long pebbly spit leading out to the point. In the end, we chose to continue a short distance up the coast to the Provincial Park at Shallow Bay just to the north where warm showers made an alluring call to our hike-stained bodies. The following day we visited a coastal feature just a few miles northward called 'The Arches', a mega-sized hunk of rock, which the sea has pounded sufficiently hard to create several inter-linking passages through which one can walk with ease. I took movies of the surf and us clambering around on the top, so this pebble picture will have to do until you get there yourself. The parking lot above the beach was an RV nightmare with several huge rigs jostling back and forth trying to get both in and out. There are some downsides to these monsters, no matter how convenient at times!

For some odd reason all the tuckamore trees directly inland from the arch formation had perished and their grey woody skeletons now stood in a blaze of fireweed. On either side the trees once again burst into life and the fireweed disappeared. Has a battle of Nature been raging here in silence? Do dead trees turn into fireweed in Newfoundland? If passing kayakers see fireweed on the shore, does it mean they can be sure of having a bonfire that night? I wonder...

Heading the RV back towards the south wasn't easy to do. The temptation to continue heading north to see more of its wonders, especially those at the Viking site at L'Anse aux Meadows was strong. Time constraints and the staggering gas consumption of the RV kept us in check, so we sadly headed southward, making a few last stops, one of which was at the mouth of Western Pond Brook, where it empties into the Gulf of St Lawrence. Here lay a sandy beach, as beautiful a curving beach as one could find anywhere in the world. Signs warned of dangerous undertows however to the careless swimmer. As they had everywhere we went on this coast, enormous waves pounded in from the Gulf and spilled their way up the shore. The wind off the sea blew furiously. Behind the beach lay rare sand dune formations and on the stream, a fish counter tallied the number of salmon making their way upstream into fresh water.

It was time once again to head back eastwards. Next I'll write about the Twillingate area on the northeast coast and how every tourist can see a whale any day of the year in exactly the same spot! Amazing, but true...

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