andrew burke





Getting to Gros Morne

Posted on: 2013-04-10

Driving most of the way across the continent wasn't enough for us in the summer of 2012 - a combination of wedding gifts and soon-to-be-expiring Aeroplan points made us decide to spend a few days camping in Gros Morne, Newfoundland in early July.

I had only been in Newfoundland once before, when I was two years old, and I have to admit I don't really remember it very well. We also didn't do any camping or hiking that time - so this was all going to be new to me.

Just like in our May road trip, we were exceptionally lucky with the weather. We had been prepared for lots of rain and mist and cold, but our time there was mostly hot and sunny. I took a lot of pictures, and many of them turned out really well. Like in my other travel posts, click on any picture to see it in Flickr, where you can find more information about when and where, as well as larger versions.

Getting to Gros Morne from Halifax is a two hour flight in a Dash-8 propellor plane to Deer Lake - flying a bit lower and slower than jets makes for a much more dramatic view of the landscape below, especially when it looks like the Canadian East Coast:

Shubenacadie River and Bay of Fundy

Newfoundland Lakes from the Air

Early on, I got the impression that this was trip was going to have some epic scenery. Even the small airport with its handful of small planes felt like it deserved a Sigur Ros soundtrack:

Small planes, big skies.

We picked up our rental car and drove towards our first night's campground near Trout River. The trees and rocks gave way to our first view of Bonne Bay, and we immediately pulled over to get a good look at it - and I quickly realized that these are the kinds of wide panoramas that are hard to capture on camera.

First View of Bonne Bay

As we turned out and went inland we passed a massive ridge of red rock, looking like a chunk of Arizona or Mars had been dropped in among the quaint fishing villages of western Newfoundland.

I often find giant rock faces kind of scary. I think it's the way they remind me of how small and short human existence is when compared with geology. I've spent most of my life in geographically flat and boring places, often also in the middle of cities. Big wild topography is such a dislocation from my usual cozy human-centred world - to me it's literally sublime, in that it's huge and beautiful but also terrifying.

One thing I like about Gros Morne, though, is how it counters its sublimity with folksy coziness: the giant rock face has a nice overlook with cozy Muskoka chairs.

Cozy Chairs and Giant Cliffs

We got to the camp-site and set up our tent. It was a lovely evening and the forecast seemed to imply rain tomorrow, so we decided to go for a bit of a walk while things were still pleasant.

We followed a path down to a small beach along the local 'pond' (in typical understatement, Newfoundlanders like to call their spectacular cliff-rimmed lakes "ponds") and saw the already red slopes across the way lit up in the song summer sunset. This is why I brought my camera!

Sunset at Trout River Pond

Flower and Sunset Cliffs

Crossing a road back to our campsite, we looked back to see the full moon rising behind the red slopes of a nearby hill.

Full Moon and Mountain

It's times like this that I wish I had more Ansel Adams in me. At least my camera has a good zoom lens - important if you want to capture the moon in a picture.

Full Moon in Gros Morne

Maybe some day I'll get good enough at image processing to turn these shots into Adams-grade pics.

Click below to see a slideshow of all of my Gros Morne pictures. I'll be covering the rest of the trip in upcoming blog posts.

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Next: Climbing Gros Morne Mountain