A shimmery bluish haze has replaced the low cloud and the forecast is a high of 28 celsius with a humidex in the mid- thirties. If I am hiking I have to go now, so at exactly 7 am I am standing at the trailhead sign with my camera hanging around my neck, harnessed with carabiners to my pack. The signage promises I will enjoy a fantastic panoramic view, if I am willing to hike from the starting point just behind the Discovery Center at 70m to 405 meters – within 2.5 kms of distance to the top. It is a 5 km return. I got this– and head up the trail with a strong stride. The first 400 meters of the trail is easy and as the ridge rises above the lower shrubbery glimpses of what is to come stretch out in front of me.
After a momentary stop to snap some pictures, I realized the thing I like best about the Gros Morne National Park trails is they are well maintained. I can see where past deficiencies have been carefully refurbished – I hop over an area where the stones and soil have been lovingly patted down and sculptured to fit the shape of the landscape, allowing me a safe pathway to tread over. For their hard work, I give a shout out to the maintenance keepers – well done.
A few more backfilled areas and I wonder how they dragged all those stones up here. I can feel the pull of the steady upward incline on my calves as I lean forward, planting a foot and pushing off. They must have motorized vehicle to haul the fill. And I try to gauge the width of the trail, against the width of a four-wheeler. I conclude it is a brave soul that drives up this cliff-side incline.
This next segment is boxed in with trees and there isn’t much stimulus and the hike become a bit of a suffer. It doesn’t take long to approach a wide space on a high ledge that over looks the South Arm of Bonne Bay.
It is a little heady walking along this part of the trail. A strange sensation overtakes me as I recall holding a stone, from the earth’s mantle, in the palm of my hand, that I had plucked from the floor of that hanging valley, that is the Tablelands. Pulled back to this distance, it looks so small against the bigger landscape picture. I am left feeling enormous. I wonder if this is how astronauts feel looking down at the earth from space.
I would be lying if I didn’t say my heart rate was elevated and my glutes and hamstrings were burning. I make note of some loose gravel on a switchback a person could take a wrong step and slip on. It seems quit steep and I think I must be nearing the top. I take a short pause to take in some water and apply some sunscreen then keep going. My watch vibrates: I have done 1 km and I realize I still have a kilometer and a half to reach the summit. What I just walked wasn’t easy and I can’t believe there is much left to the top. The tree line gives way to a meadow area. The trail narrows through some long grasses fairly overgrown and apparently not overused. Perhaps people turn around before now. This area is filled with those the red poppy look-alike flowers and I take a picture hoping I can find some identification at some point.
I know this looks like the back of the flower but the front side is just a big green nob.
Partway through the meadow a wooden walkway elevates people over a boggy area. I suspect is an ecologically sensitive location. I walk across it, clacking on the wooden platform, It seems like a very long way. The grasses are grown up through and around the board, tightening, trying to reclaim it. It drops me back on the grasses for a small portion then It starts up again and looks infinite. It is here that I look up and realize far up on the top of the mountain are the Adirondack chairs the National Park service always puts out at amazing viewpoints. The spot looks a long way from where I am. So much for almost being at the top
Up I go, enjoying the exercise, keeping my eye out for moose or any wildlife but it is so hot even the blackflies are hiding Finally the the chairs …. I drop my pack take a seat and suck back some water ’til I am quenched and fight with the wrapper of a granola bar. It is good to sit. Whew. The view is worth every ounce of sweat I lost. My camera stays busy. I have to get every angle. Tracing the line up from my starting point on the lower left corner, the Discovery Center, to the boardwalk I followed up here. I stay on the top about forty minutes taking in the smells, the colours, how the sun glints off the waters of the south arm. and the Trout River Road, Norris Point and Rocky Harbour to the northwest. My shirt is clinging to the continuous trickle of sweat that runs down my back and chest. Its going to be a hot one indeed. Satisfied with my experience I head back down.
On the way down I find a Grouse, He plays with me a bit, His instincts were to run and he did for short bursts, then freeze and stand still hoping to blend in. I probably took twenty photos of him but only a few turned out good enough to share.
When I reach the open look out to the tableland again, I realize I must have set my lens cap down on the trail when I was trying to get a picture of the Grouse. Damn. Closer to the bottom a young man has a camera backpack. he says he is going up to take some photos. He is struggling with the heat and incline He asks me how far? to the top. It feels a lit heartless to tell him he is only about twenty percent of the way. I inquire about his water supply he assures me he has plenty. I say, “Its not the hardness thing you’ve ever done.” I wish him well and, “Oh I saw a grouse about 100 meters up the trail, they are here and active so keep a lens ready.” We depart our separate ways and about five minutes later I get mad at myself for not remembering to ask him if he sees my lens cap on the trail to leave it at the Discovery Center for me. Damn again. That cap is now park of the park.
I walk the last 300 meters down the trail. I step aside for what I assume is a large family approaching; mom, dad grandparents and several young children making their way up. Than another group, behind them, a few solos. I am again glad I went early. Coming out from the shelter of the trees the sun is blazing hot. I head into the Discovery Center to change in their bathroom into a pair of dry shorts and shirt, wash he sweat from my face and neck. I tell the attendants of my hike and how I enjoyed it., One of the twenty-something says, “I have never been up,” but hears it is beautiful and vows to do it before the summer is over. “Make sure you do, it is worth the effort.” I depart and remove my COVID mask. I am heading over to Rocky Harbour after a lunch stop at Mckenzie Brook picnic area. I have reserved two nights stay in outeastadventures.com/hostel. A life long dream about to come true.
Please Join as I make my way around Newfoundland and Labrador. Happy Travels from Maritime Mac
No Money gifts or incentives were received for writing this. It is my own experience.
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