Thursday, December 6, 2012

Blow Me Down Provincial Park

Blow Me Down Provincial Park is located in between Lark Harbour and York Harbour. It offers stunning scenery right on a small peninsula between the harbours and amazing hiking trails. It is a popular place for campers, but it has a small campground feel, with woods separating the sites and facilities.

Possibly the biggest attraction of Blow Me Down Provincial Park is the Governors Staircase. The staircase climbs the side of the mountain in the middle of the park. At the top there is a lookout platform that has 360 degree views for many many miles. You can even see the tablelands of Gros Morne park across the Gulf of Saint Lawrence! My Aunt's father once counted the stairs and reported there to be about 400. Needless to say it is a good workout.
A view of Lark Harbour from the observation platform.

If you want a bit of a longer hike you can continue along the ridge from the viewing platform. This trail will bring you out on the "Tortoise Head", named because if you look at the ridge from the side it looks like a turtle, with a head, shell, and tail. The hike is really great, not too challenging, not too long. An all around goody. It only takes about two to three hours, terrains not too strenuous, just a little steep but not crazy. The view at the end is to die for. Seriously, when I die I hope heaven looks like Newfoundland.
Tortoise Head
This picture was taken from the beach in Lark Harbour by the Coast Guard station. The Tortoise hike is on the ridge in the background. The observation platform is located at the top of the ridge behind the first light pole from the right on the wharf. The Tortoise is the big hump at the end, sadly though, his head got cut off in this picture.

So, I have hundreds of pictures that I wish I could share with you because they are all so beautiful, but alas, that is not possible, so here are a couple more of what the end of the Tortoise looks like.

Make sure you click on these suckers to enlarge them for full viewing pleasure!

The end. If this isn't heaven, I don't know what is.
The end of the line on the Tortoise Head hike.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Bottle Cove

Bottle Cove is the small cove located next to Little Port and Lark Harbour.
A map of the Bay of Islands

As you can see on the map it is located across the peninsula from Lark Harbour. If you follow the road to the end of the line you get there.

I am writing about Bottle Cove because it is one of my favorite places to go when I'm not in the mood for a hike. If you need to kill a little time, or get out of the city to a scenic little beach then this is a good place to go.

I personally like to go swimming at Bottle Cove. I have done it twice. You must be thinking I am out of my mind, I reached the same conclusion a long time ago. The water is icy, but quite pleasant once your skin has numbed a bit. Besides having a nice pebble beach and swimming opportunities there are also other attractions.

One of the first things people notice is the Captain Cook monument on the spit of land across the Cove. A five minute walk from the parking lot will bring you out to the monument. Once you are on the spit of land you will find it hard to focus on the monument when you get an eye full of the awesome cave across the cove.

 It is actually possible to walk out to the cave when it is low tide. It takes a steady foot and sharp eye though because the rocks are very slippery. Make sure you time it right if you walk out, the tide comes in rather fast!
Looking towards Bottle Cove. The monument to Captain Cook is on the grassy spit of land. Note the cave in the top right.

There are some minor hiking trails around Bottle Cove for the not very ambitious person who prefers a scenic amble to a white knuckle rock climb. They are lovely and well marked, each offering a delightful view of the Cove, cave, and other hidden coves.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Cedar Cove Hike

Hike is a bit of a generous word for Cedar Cove. I would call it more of a nature walk.

Located in Little Port, the trail head is right next to the trail head for the Little Port Head hike which I wrote about a few weeks ago.

According to York Harbour and Lark Harbour hikes the trail is an easy 1.8 kilometre hike. If you have a couple hours to do the short hike out and have a picnic lunch or explore Cedar Cove then do it!

Picnic by the beach at Cedar Cove!
When you arrive in Cedar Cove you come out of the dense pine woods into a large meadow clearing. There are the usual tall rocky peaks on each side and a small pond that flows down into the cove. The water in the cove is a pure crystalline turquoise. The rock beach is nice to walk on once you get over the dense piles of driftwood washed up by the tides.

On a side note, if you want a more challenging hike there is an extremely hard hike off of the main trail. The trail goes straight up the mountains to the right that border the ocean. After reaching the top you walk along the bare peaks. I have to admit this is my favorite hike I have done yet. It is very quite at the top, with the ocean a thousand feet below you.  The trail can be taken from the Cedar Cove trail, or you can start it at the end of the Little Port Head Light trail.
On top of the world! Heading from Cedar Cove to Little Port.

As I said before, that add on hike is extremely challenging and takes a few hours to complete.

The view of Cedar Cove. Note the pond on the left. This view is from the extension hike, the normal trail runs between the pond and the base of the hill the photographer is on.

Happy hiking!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Icebergs: Nature's Ocean Ice Cubes

I was just looking at some pictures from my trip to the island two summers ago when I happened upon a side trip that we took up to St. Anthony to see icebergs. It was quite a split moment decision. We had been hearing for days that the best icebergs in years were making their appearances at the northern tip of Newfoundland.

One night, after hearing tantalizing tales such as this for days, Lauren decided that bright and early the next day we should do a quick run up the west coast to see the icebergs. I was just as excited as her, so the next day, bright and early we took off for St. Anthony.

On the way I searched for a last minute hotel room, accidentally booked one in Labrador (woops!), and finally got one in St. Anthony, the hub of the action.
It took us about seven hours to skirts up the coast to St. Anthony. You follow the highway 430 all the way to the end of the road to get there. It really is beautiful riding up the highway through Gros Morne and small fishing villages. It is also very desolate in places.

A fishing boat acts as a iceberg tour boat for tourists in Goose Cove

We had just enough time before the sun set when we arrived to snap a few pictures. I believe (and correct me if I am wrong) that this picture is in Goose Cove, which is the next town down from St. Anthony. I particularly loved this iceberg because of the interesting blue stripe through it. Very unusual. The boat in the picture is a iceberg tour boat. There are many tours offered by people with boats, we didn't have time to take one, but I have heard they are excellent.

The icebergs refrigerate the air around St. Anthony. Even though it was August, it felt like November. The perpetually overcast skies didn't help, but it was about 45 degrees Fahrenheit ( 7 Celsius) the whole time we were there.
Icebergs in St. Anthony Newfoundland
If you ever get the opportunity to see icebergs take it! They are truly a wonder.

Iceberg Facts

  • 90% of an iceberg is under water.
  • There have been numerous polar bear sightings 
  • over recent winters around St. Anthony. Yikes!
  • Icebergs are formed when chunks of glaciers or ice shelves break off, this is called calving.
  • Icebergs are also often seen in Twillingate, Newfoundland.
  • The Titanic was sunk by icebergs off of Newfoundland's coast.
  • Icebergs are fresh water, not salt.

An unusual striated  iceberg in St. Anthony

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hiking Gros Morne

Gros Morne is the second tallest mountain in Newfoundland. It is on the west coast, a little more than an hour north of Corner Brook in Gros Morne National Park. As I speculated in the last post I believe that Gros Morne means big mournful mountain, or something like that.

I have only hiked Gros Morne once, and I can't wait to do so again!

Before I go on and get you all excited about hiking the mountain, I have to warn you. Gros Morne is not an easy hill to hike. It should only be hiked under the best conditions, by someone in good enough shape.

The mountain takes about 8 hours to hike, so you have to start in the morning. 8 hours is an estimate, which includes some short breaks.

There is a parking lot located at the trail head, off of the main road through the park. You can't miss it. The only problem is that it isn't a very large lot, and it can fill up fast, so get there early for a spot!

If you are standing in the parking lot, staring up at the mountain and it looks far away, it is because it is. Your eyes do not deceive you.
Yonder rock pile is Gros Morne. Note that this is not a picture from the parking lot. This is probably a half hour from the lot.

Soon enough though, you reach the base of the mountain. And up you go. You are above the tree level by now. You may find yourself surrounded by our friends the moose as I did. By this point I had seen three. The rest of the hike is the hardest. You find yourself scrambling up a scree trail.

Scree trail forever!

 Scree is the path left by an avalanche. This scree trail in particular has some very large boulders, and others not so large. It takes well over an hour to conquer. When you get past the scree you are walking up a gradual incline that resembles some kind of Japanese rock garden. All there is as far as the eye can see is grey rock. The path is bordered by it, the horizon edged by it, and so on. By now you are sick and tired of grey rock!

But do not fear the top is in sight! You crest the final ridge and there it is! 

The rest of the hike feels like a walk in the park. You continue along the top, then head down, passing a lake, and sleeping platforms. By this point many people are exhausted. You've been hiking for hours.

By the time you walk into the parking lot, all you can think of is how you wish you broke in your hiking boots a little better, and remembered to apply deodorant!

It is worth it, most definitely.

Perhaps this gives you some perspective on how steep the scree trail is. Also, the parking lot is located to the far right, where there appears to be a river (not those little lakes at the base) underneath the pointy peak (center right).

Monday, November 5, 2012

Gros Morne: Part 1

Western Brook Pond in Gros Morne National Park

Gros Morne. An interesting name for an interesting place. You may be asking yourself, "what is this odd thing that she speaks of?"

Wonder no more!

Gros Morne is the national park located on the west coast of Newfoundland, about an hour and a half north of Corner Brook.

I have speculated on the name for quite a while. Somewhere along the road I found out it may mean big mountain standing alone or foggy/mournful mountain. All I really know is that this is an awesome place to visit with huge amounts of fun stuff for everyone to participate in.  From hiking to scenic boat rides and theatre, Gros Morne National Park has it!

This post however is on the simply magnificent boat tours available in the park. I have done the Western Brook tour, which I highly recrommend. The boat takes you through a guided hour long tour of a glacially formed fresh-water fjord. The walls stand at over 2,000 feet tall on either side of the boat, and the depth of the fjord is over 200 feet in most areas.

It is home to numerous waterfalls classified as the highest in eastern North America. To get out to these magnificent waterfalls and cliffs there is a short (less than a mile) well maintained walking path that leads you to the boat.

This blog by Keith Nicol is worth checking out, it covers anything I may have missed! Keith Nicol's blog about Gros Morne boat tours

Happy Boating!

Monday, October 15, 2012

History/Language Lesson!

Anyone who has ever visited England, or maybe even the far southern parts of the United States knows that there are many different dialects English. In the ever true words of George Bernard Shaw, "England and America are two countries separated by a common language."  One of the hardest to understand dialects of English has to be that of Newfoundland's.

To understand a language you must look at its roots. Newfoundland is an island that was first settled by Vikings, but, more recently it was settled by the people of  south western England. The accents present in Newfoundland now are similar to those found in the West Country area of England, for this is where the boats of settlers sailed from. Because Newfoundland is an island there have not been many other factors to affect the language, except for perhaps for the French settlers who came mainly from Quebec, as far as I know. Okay, enough history! Lets get to the good stuff.

The first time I ever talked to a Newfoundlander I was flabbergasted. I understood nothing, I kid you not, it was like a foreign language. As with any other language I have come to understand it with time.
Here are just a few terms I have picked up over the years, and a few from Wikipedia:

  • yes b'y! -You bet!
  • where you at?- What's up? or Where are you?
  • Luh!-Look!
  • Wah?-What?
  • G'wan b'y- You're joking.

This Wikipedia article on the language of Newfoundland is fascinating, it explained a lot to me, and also cleared up certain misconceptions I had. If you have a spare minute it's a interesting read!