In spite of the continued heatwave, I am slowly walking up the trail towards the Tablelands with my brimmed cap pulled low to my sunglasses. I have a good grip on my water bottle and my camera swings from left to right by the strap around my neck. I am braving the 34 degrees Celsius temperature to satisfy some inner feeling that I haven’t quite gotten the full experience of the place.
I take pictures and pause at some of the plaques to read each one carefully. I swipe at the perspiration dripping down the cleft of my chest and at my brow. I Look hard at the Serpentine Peridotite rocks, the sparse vegetation, for signs of the continental collision that formed the Appalachian mountains and Pangea. Unfortunately, I have an untrained eye and most of the scientific wonders of the place will go unnoticed by me -but if I am honest with myself, the heat has me distracted and all I can think of it getting cooled off.
Just like on my previous hike up here, the view to Winter House canyon is breathtaking, but this time it shimmers with heat.
As I walk towards the viewing platform there is a family sitting in the glacial stream. I think that is a great idea. I stop and drop to the dirt and start untying my hikers and pull them off, stuffing my socks back inside them. Leaving my camera with my shoes, I shimmy over the gravel towards the side of the stream and drop my feet into the frigid water. At first I cringe at the shock of cold, then rejoice at the relief. I slink forward into the deeper pool just below a narrow cut in the boulders where the stream has a bit of current. Again I gasp as the cold water soaks through my clothes, making them cling to my belly. I can’t handle the force of the current so I sit in a eddy at the back. It is so cold but also awesome. I would never have ventured in if I hadn’t seen the group in here already.
Directing my question towards the lady who had just stumbled over the slippery rocks to exit the stream. “Would you mind taking a picture of me please?” I pointed towards my camera resting beside my footwear. She picks it up and stares at the knobs. “I only take pictures on my phone,” she giggles, and I give a few words of tutorial. “On the right is a little button to turn it on” She continues staring at the screen.
“Oh I got a short video,” she giggles again and then hands it to the man she calls her brother-in-law, and says, “He is the photographer in the familyl” Their group (not all in the photo) includes grandma, grandpa, sisters and brother and their spouses, plus several children ranging in age from a few months old, to tween. They have all gathered here in Gros Morne National Park for a family reunion.
Most of the family are from St John’s area on the east coast of Newfoundland, but two are from Gander. They have been here many times, this is the first time they have cooled off in the stream. “It has been unusually hot,” the lady I have been chatting with says, and they all agree and nod. I ask them about their travel plans and if they have any tips for must-see places only they would know about. The lady hugs her little boy while sitting on a rock, she swipes a bit of wet hair from his face and says in a thick local accent, “By Lobster Cove Head lighthouse, there’s a trail goes down to da beach, and there’s a driftwood shelter. Its popular on Instagram.”
“Thank you, so much I will be sure to go have a look.” I submerge myself in the stream one more time and then carefully pick my way out of the pool to the side of the stream. I dry my feet with my socks then pull my hikers back on. I leave the group to their swimming party and wave goodbye. As I head back down the trail I feel so happy. It was the human connection on the earth’s mantle that had been missing from my first experience. Glad I went back the second time.
Please Join me again for the Driftwood shelter at Lobster Cove. I will be away on vacation to Iceland the first week of September. Cheers from Maritimemac.
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