Thursday, July 28, 2011

Kamouraska

It's been a while since we've had a deadline, but tomorrow we have a plane to catch. We are flying out west for 10 days, to visit Kristal's family and hopefully do some climbing in the Rockies. As a result, we had a limited amount of time in Newfoundland. We had hoped to head to the east coast of the island, but with the deadline looming and the miserable forecast, we decided it wasn't worth the drive just to get rained out.

By skipping the east coast, we could take our time heading back to Ottawa. Before leaving we explored the Corner Brook Caves, bouldered at Long Gull Pond, hiked to the tip of Long Point on the Port au Port peninsula, and picnicked at the scenic Codroy Valley Provincial Park.

In New Brunswick we saw the worlds largest lobster in Shediac and camped at the beautiful Kouchibouguac National Park.

In Quebec we returned to Kamouraska, where we were rained out a few weeks ago, when we were first heading out east. We were pretty excited to put some solid climbing days in after all the non-climbing we'd been doing.

Day 1 started out nice, but rain threatened once more. This is not what you want to see when you are on the rock.


Fortunately it blew past, the sky started to clear,


the rock dried quickly, and we enjoyed three great days of climbing.


We happened to be there over the weekend, so the place was crazy busy (it's like climbing in a gym!), but we had a great time hanging out, sharing stories, and climbing with some new friends from western Canada and New Hampshire. Here is Ron sending one of the classics, Moby Dick, with a beautiful view over the Gulf of St. Lawrence.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Beach Mussels

Before leaving Gros Morne we wanted to do a little back country camping. There are several options for doing this, but ever since listening to our friend Caroline talk about cooking freshly picked mussels on the beach, Kristal was intent (obsessed) on hiking the Green Gardens trail and camping overnight on the coast.

With camp set up, the next priority was to scope out the mussel supply. Our timing was perfect, as the tide was well on its way out. Here is Kristal sussing out the tide pool situation.


Jackpot!


Hmmm, mussels....


Time to get down to business.


Did I mention how psyched Kristal was?


Delicious!


In between courses of mussels we hiked along the coast, checking out the nearby sea caves, scrambling on many of the cool rock formations and collecting driftwood for our epic fire.



Later in the evening, as the tide came in, so did the jellyfish.


Day 2 did not start out all that great. It had rained overnight, and current conditions were cold, foggy and miserable. The pump for our fuel canister decided to seize up, making our stove inoperable. That meant cold oatmeal for breakfast, no coffee for kristal, and the prospect of no hot lunch.

We then discovered that with all the recent rain, the next section of the trail was an absolute mud-fest. Combined with a lot of tall, wet grass, by the time we made it back down to the last beach area we were cold, completely drenched and muddied from the waist down. The prospect of 6 more kilometers of that, fueled only by Clif bars, was not all that appealing.

But as we were catching our breath the sun started to poke through the clouds. Oh, glorious warmth! We hung out for a couple of hours as the sky cleared and I found enough dry wood to get a small cook fire going.


By the time we headed off again we had a hot lunch in our bellies, Kristal had her coffee, and most of our clothes had dried out. The last section of the trail was much more pleasant hiking, and in the end it turned out to be a beautiful day.

We ate a delicious home cooked meal in a small, nondescript motel restaurant overlooking Bonne bay, watching whales swim by in the distance. It was a great end to our time in Gros Morne.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Climbing!

We had to wait out a couple of more days of rain, spending a lot of time in the swanky cook shelter (complete with wood stoves) that our campground had. It was actually a pretty cool way to meet fellow travelers, and we met several with some interesting stories. Our favourite new friends were a family from Connecticut who had 3 awesome kids. Kristal and I had the best game ever of Lava Monster on the playground with them and my laptop is now covered with some awesome Star Wars LEGO stickers.

We eventually snagged another day of good weather and decided to check out Arches Provincial Park.



It's a cool scenic stop along the coast, and gave us a chance to finally go climbing again! It had been a full week since we were bouldering on Dover Island. The exposed faces dried quickly in the sun and the wind, but the rock is pretty fractured, so most of the holds underneath the arches were seeping heavily after all the recent rain. Still, it was nice to be climbing again and we had a fun day sending some easy problems.



Next up we hiked into West Brook Pond to get a closer look at the amazing glacier carved terrain that Gros Morne is famous for.


It was a beautiful hike, passing over bogs, marshes, streams, and a lot of pretty flowers.


That night we went for a run on the 4 km sandy beach beside our campground,


and were treated to yet another spectacular sunset.

Monday, July 18, 2011

July 11, 2011 - Part 2

It was turning out to be a pretty nice day, so we decided to do some more exploring instead of heading back to the lackluster campground we were staying at. We were driving through the traditional fishing village of Raleigh,


when we noticed the turnoff to Burnt Cape Ecological Park. There wasn't much information about it in the Newfoundland travel guide, other than some notes about rare plant species. Usually plants alone aren't enough to get us interested, but after some non-committal deliberation, we decided to check it out.

15 seconds later Kristal spied a seal sunning on a rock about 50 feet from the road. As we were driving onto the cape, I thought I spotted some whales just offshore. We parked the car and madly ran the few hundered meters down to the shoreline to see a pod of Minke whales casually passing by



and a couple of icebergs in the distance.


We spent the next 5 hours exploring of the western shore of the cape,


finding some amazing tide pools,


cool small sea caves,


and the largest sea cave we've ever seen.


We cooked dinner as the icebergs floated by, listening to the whales just offshore, watching the spray of another pod in the distance, and with the coast of Labrador sitting on the horizon.


It was such an amazing place, and we spent a lot of time hiking around enjoying the amazing terrain and views.




We stayed to watch the sunset. It was an awesome end to one of the most exciting days we've had on the trip.

Friday, July 15, 2011

July 11, 2011 - Part 1

Before heading to Newfoundland I had two goals: to see some icebergs, and see some whales. With that in mind, we headed north to the tip of the northern peninsula. The weather still wasn't playing nice, but this day wasn't looking too bad, and we were going to make the most of it. We started off by bundling up in all the layers we had and taking a boat tour out of St. Anthony. We were on the hunt for ice.


It was actually pretty late in the season for icebergs, but thanks to a massive 250 square kilometer chunk that broke off of a glacier in Greenland last August, it was turning into a banner year.


We circled a couple of large bergs, one of which gave us quite a show, as the relentless pounding of waves caused it founder right in front of us. It was a pretty awesome sight.



The icebergs were pretty far offshore, so we didn't have time to chase down any whales, but the show was so impressive we couldn't help but feel completely satisfied. Coming back into harbour it was cool to get a close look at some of the local fishing gear and boats.



From St. Anthony we headed north up the coast, passing many cool seaside houses...


small fishing villages...


and epic offshore islands...


all with a steady stream of icebergs visible just offshore. It's easy to see why the area is called iceberg alley.


Next stop was L'Anse aux Meadows, the first known European settlement in the new world, founded by Leif Erikkson, Norse explorer extraordinaire. The recreated sod houses were pretty awesome.



And were full of cool artifacts of the times. Here is Kristal chatting with one of the local Vikings, who was busy making himself a new pair of shoes.


Kristal took the opportunity to channel her own inner Viking.


We hiked around a bit, enjoying the rare nice weather, and some more epic views.


As we were leaving another moose crossed our path, literally, running right through the parking lot.


Had the day ended right then and there it would have been an awesome one, but it was only half over, and the best was yet to come.