So not every stop has to end with me on the top of a hill. Sometimes my mind is just in the hills. An example of that would be on the Viking Trail towards Rocky Harbour. Yup, it is a pretty drive to say the very least, and I steer the truck around the sweeping passes and down and up valleys of the Long Range mountains. These hills are like sirens of the sea; my mind is so enthralled by what my eyes are seeing that my attention lingers in the enormous hanging valleys, studying the curvature and shadows, and how clouds float and mingle in the bluest of sky I’ve ever seen, and I hear my voice saying “Wow”over and over. Luckily there are pullovers so a person can get out and have a good look – that prevents me from driving off the road.
There is no name at the first stop, just Mother Nature at her best. Another car pulls in to the stop and a man and women emerge. She has straight short black hair and large framed sunglasses, he has grey hair and his right hand is shoved into the side pocket of a pair of cream linen shorts. They both wear sandals. She takes pictures with her camera. “Beautiful place isn’t it?” I say to the lady. “It is,” she replies as her head swivels around at the view. “Would you mind taking a picture of us?” she asks. “Not at all,” I reply. I take her phone from her and step back, snapping a few landscape and portrait versions, then and hand it back. “Would you take mine too please?” I remove my camera from my neck and hand it to her. She walks backwards and tries to center me in the viewing screen.
“Are you traveling alone?” she asks me. and I pick up on an Asian accent. “Yes I am on a vacation, I have another eighteen days of camping.” “Oh,” is all she replies looking back at my truck then asks, “Aren’t you scared?” as she hands me my camera. I exhale with a little snort and grin, amused. It is my most frequently asked question (as I wrote about in You Traveled Alone?) and as I have answered hundreds of times, “No, I have done a great deal of solo travel, I am well prepared but thank you for your concern.”
The man says, “We are from British Columbia, we only have three more days, then we are flying back.” He says this is a different kind of beautiful from the BC mountains. He has a more prominent Germanic accent. They had a difficult time finding a rental car. She tells me she is envious of my carefree ways, she hates having to make reservation for hotels and dinner and having to be at a certain place at a certain time, “It takes away from the trip.” I nod in agreement. They take a few more photos then the lady turns to me and says, “Be safe lock your doors!” I again thank her and wish them a safe drive. “Watch out for moose!”
I look around a few more minutes then drive forward to the next stop at South East Brook Falls.
It is only 700 meters in length so I don’t need a pack, I just grab my camera and start down the path described as balsam fir and white birch forest First It goes downward then and then it rises upward taking me to a two tiered staired platform at the falls.
There is a man and a women at the first stairway. It is narrow here and with social distancing, I wait. As they shuffle over to let me through, I call out, “No rush! I am in no hurry take your time.” they pause for another few moments then move up the the second tier. It is a very pretty waterfall, unfortunately, not so great for photos: the platform is close to the edge and you can look downward but I can’t get the entire view of the falls. There is quite s substantial drop to this falls but it is hard to show being so close.
The man and woman have seen enough and they move off. When another group walks up the stairs with a dog on a leash and a two young boys the space seems crowded and I get squeezed out as the boys quickly lose interest in the falls and start hopping up and down the platform stairs. “Excuse me,” I say with a smile as I slide by and make my way out, and head back to the truck.
I pull into a rest area at the head of a cove. A man with a truck and cap similar to mine is out taking pictures of the lake. I offer to take a picture of him; he declines but offers to take one of me and I accept. He snaps a couple and hands the camera back to me with a wink. “I think I got some nice ones for you.” “Thank you! It’s hard to get a bad picture in this place,” I joke. He drives away and I stay a few moments more to have the place to myself. The daisies in bloom make this photo perfect.
My next stop is a cultural marker in honour of Mattie Mitchell- A renowned Mi’kmaq guide, commemorated with a national historic plaque recognizing his contribution to the mapping and exploration of the great western peninsula of Newfoundland It is a short 250 meter loop path to Mitchell Brook, so again I only take my camera. I walk to the monument and read the marker then follow the path to the stream and back, covering it all in 10 minutes.
There is quote from from Reverend Elwood Worchester, “I knows my own river and my own hunting ground, but Mattie, sir. knows everything He’s been walking all over the island since he was a child and you can’t lose him anywhere”
I learn that Ktaqmkuk is the Mi’kmaq word for Newfoundland, meaning “land across the water.” Writing on the banners mentions oral stories of seasonal canoe treks from Cape Breton to Newfoundland for trapping, fishing and trading. I think about how it was a six hour trip. in a ocean-going ferry (in my post J.T. Cheeseman Provincial Park, NFLD). Crossing in a canoe seems impressive and scary.
Over the bridge on the left is Gros Morne Mountain, I see the sign for the hike but I drive by. I have to tilt my head sideways to see all the way to the barren rock top. I would love to hike up to the summit but I have lots of great things planned, Please join me again as I head to Trout River, NFLD
Happy travels from Maritimemac
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