We had conquered Gros Morne mountain. We had seen the spectacular cliffs of Western Brook Pond. Our next adventure was the Green Gardens circle trail - almost 10 kilometres of rugged hillsides and shorelines, with glorious scenery as a payoff for all of the climbing. Every time Shannon had brought it up earlier in the trip, I couldn't help thinking of Grey Gardens, which is something entirely different.
After a hearty breakfast in Woody Point, we drove to the "Long Pond" trailhead, and started out on our hike.
At the time, my phone was on Rogers wireless, which had no signal at all in western Newfoundland. I had figured out, though, that iOS maps would cache their images if I looked at the appropriate locations earlier in the day while I had wi-fi access at the campsite. I happened to be testing the iPhone version of Remembary at the time, and with the pre-loaded satellite photo maps it turned out to be really handy for tracking our hike. Any time I wanted to figure out my position, I would just take a snapshot with my iPhone and it would show up with a timestamped pin on today's map in Remembary. Taking shots at every waypoint sign, I was even able to figure out how quickly we were walking.
We started the trail around noon, and made good time across the fairly barren hillsides across from the Tablelands.
Soon, though, we got into some hilly terrain and quite thick forest.
We had our first river crossing around 1pm, and saw an eagle go by - I'm sure the ancient Roman Augurs would have had something to say about that, but I'm not sure what it might have meant. It went by too quickly for me to get my camera out, unfortunately.
We had planned for rainy cold weather, but it turned out to be sunny, dry, and hot - again. The hiking was quite rugged (even with the stairs put in for some of the steeper parts), so when we got to another river crossing, we almost wanted to just throw ourselves into the water.
Instead, we went past the continuing path, through a stand of pink wild roses, and found ourselves on our own private beach!
We both walked around a bit, dunked ourselves in the ocean - I tasted the water, and it seemed less salty than the Pacific Ocean is at Santa Cruz - possibly the St. Lawrence adding more freshwater to the mix? I thought I saw a whale or dolphin hop out of the water at one point, but it might have been my imagination.
After lunch and some rest, we headed back out, doing a very steep climb up to a spectacular view of the ocean and the mouth of Bonne Bay.
We stumbled downhill a bit and we found ourselves in the first of the "Green Gardens", green hillsides with scattered volcanic rocks, all covered in pretty yellow flowers.
The path then descended to the shoreline, among the wildly shaped rocks, then back up to another Green Garden.
Then we were led down again to a cove where we were able to walk to a small waterfall.
We had timed our hike to the tides, and we were able to walk back south around a sometimes-submerged headland, covered with tidal pools and tiny mussels, to a sea cave.
The cave was a wonderful find, but we both found it rather scary - not least because we had just seen "Prometheus" recently (the movie was deeply silly, but some parts still managed to be a bit creepy).
It was 6pm by the time we started back inland. We were getting quite tired but were hoping to be done soon. We stumbled back over dry terrain that reminded us of the Western prairies and deserts more than damp Newfoundland.
We finally made it back to the car around 7pm - 7 hours of hiking! We had no idea that the trail would be that grueling.
We then went back to our favourite restaurant in "Downtown" Woody Point, where I had a well-deserved beer and a hearty meal.
As we headed back to the campground, it started to rain just as the sun was setting. In one direction, this made for cascades of golden-red rain and clouds:
In the other direction, the setting sun and the rain made for some spectacular rainbows - full arc, and sometimes double.
After an epic day of sun-drenched shoreline, Gros Morne managed to show off how great it looks even in the rain. "Dammit, too fricking scenic" I mumbled - again.
Click below for a slideshow of all of my pictures from Gros Morne: