My Wife’ Second Backpacking Trip (TR) - Newfoundland

1:37 p.m. on October 8, 2012 (EDT)
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After a successful first overnight backpacking experience with my wife last year (see TR, we decided to include two short two-day backpacking trails within a 9-day vacation with two of our teenagers this July. That was in wonderful GROS-MORNE N.P. in NewfoundlandProvince (easternmost province in Canada).

GrosMorneNational Park is dominated by two distinctly different landscapes, a coastal lowland bordering the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the alpine plateau of the LongRangeMountains. The rocks of the area describe ages of geologic turmoil when old oceans disappeared, new ones were created, and continents took shape. The Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

The Park offers ‘The Long Range Traverse’, an unmarked route that covers 35km, and takes an average of four to five days to hike. For those of you interested here is an iconic picture of that trail:

(Internet picture)

The wilderness hiking, wildlife and scenery of this route is said to be unparalleled in eastern Canada, but it was too much for our level of expertise.

We decided to hike two trails offering wilderness camp sites even if they can be hiked as day hikes: the Green Garden Trail and the Snug Harbour Trail.

At home we prepared our freezer-bag recipes for our two suppers in backpack camping: Chicken double cheese taters and Tuna and cranberry couscous salad, with Trail bag chocolate brownies. The only task needed at site was to boil water and mix. Our breakfast were oatmeal and pita bread with peanut butter; the lunches were high tasting dry saucisson (Rosette de Lyon type) and large blocks of Parmesan cheese with some fresh vegetables we bought locally before hitting the trails.

As we did last year, the boys had a walkie-talkie and we had the other one, so both groups could walk at its own pace and still communicate.  Really useful and reassuring!


There are two entrance points to reach the loop, and three designated camping areas along the sea coast – but only one directly on the beach.  I was at the Park’s office at 8 am to secure a wilderness permit for that site on the beach (Skinners Cove). We started hiking from west access (Long Pond) only around noon under perfect weather.  The trail starts with a gentle climbing (only 200’ elevation) in a very particular bronze rocky area facing the Tableland (more later in the TR!)


Trail start at Long Pond

Then through nice mossy forest, with a lot of moose’s droppings and footprints, before reaching (after 4 km) a first easy ford on Wallace Brook. 


Take note on the above picture of the foam pad we both carry in all of our hikes.  A big plus for comfort as we can sit and relax on any log or rock, wet or dry.


The camping site being 3 km further, where the brook flows into the sea the boys wanted to hike into the brook; we argued that we didn’t know if there would be impassable passages, so they agreed to continue on the trail, which was climbing back into the forest, before reaching a last ford.


Second ford on Wallace Brook

We arrived around 4 PM, installed the tents on grassy land, had our supper, walked on the multi-colored pebble beach and enjoyed the sunset.


View from the beach


Boys filtering water on Wallace Brook



Next morning was nothing but blue sky.


The trail quickly raises by 600’ (200 m) and continues up and down along the sea during 2.5 miles (4 km) in a mix of forest, green fields and cliffs.


The Skinners Cove where we camped can be slightly seen at the bottom third.



Lots of snails!

Looking backward


After 2.5 mi (4 km) the trail then leaves the shore and climbs 800’ (250 m) to the plateau over the next 3 miles (4,5 km) where we saw a lot of Sarracenia (Pitcher Plant), a carnivorous plant and the floral emblem of Newfoundland.



We reached the van around 5 PM where we shared 32 oz of cool chocolate milk waiting for us, before driving to Trout River Campground where we car camped for two nights.


Sunset on Trout River



I was again at Park’s office at 8 AM to secure a wilderness permit but we started the trail quite late, around noon (!). The first 1.5 mile (3 km) from the parking lot is on a boardwalk leading to the boat tours on Western Brook Pond.


Western Brook Pond is a fresh water fjord which was carved out by glaciers during the most recent ice age from 25,000 to about 10,000 years ago. Once the glaciers melted, the land, which had been pushed down by the weight of the ice sheet, rebounded and the outlet to the sea was cut off. The 30-kilometre (19 mi) long narrow "pond" then filled in with fresh water.

From the dock we were then alone on the trail, which soon crosses a brook; the cable made it easy to ford.



The trails was really muddy in some areas:


The trail is only 5.3 mi long (8 km) but we lost it following a destroyed bridge walking on the wrong beach.  After one hour of various attempts we came back to the bridge remains and found the trail.  We arrived at the campsite near 6 PM.

Possibly the best setting we ever had…



Enjoying our supper and the view from Snug Harbour Beach

The water in the fjord is extremely pure and is assigned the highest purity rating available for natural bodies of water.  It has been measured to be clear up to 30 ft (10 m) deep.



The boys’ tent in early morning.


The boy’s plan for that morning was to hike up to the top of North Rim’s plateau to get the following view (and to be back before noon at the campsite):


On the North Rim Traverse (internet picture)

That trail is unmarked + unmaintained and one must find and follow a moose’s trail in very dense bushes (‘tuckamore’).  They did not succeed.  We all took a plunge into the cool ‘pond’, packed everything and returned to the boat tour dock to take the 4 PM boat tour into the fjord.


By the way, the walls of the fjord are 2,200 ft (700 m) high!

At the far end of the fjord the boat dropped three guys that were starting the five-day Long Range Traverse.  Our boys were looking at them with envy and promised to be back in a few years to do the same!



The bronze color rocks mentioned at the beginning of this TR are from the Tableland, an alien landscape that’s sitting in the middle of boreal forest. It’s quite amazing and it’s very strange.

It’s made up of a rock called peridotite (weathered on the outside but green inside). What’s ironic about it is this is probably one of the most abundant rocks on Earth, except that almost all of it is inside the Earth’s mantle (below the Earth’s crust), anywhere from about 15 to 30 km below where we’re standing. Tableland is one of the few spots where it’s actually seen on the surface of the Earth.


Tableland, in the far-away background


Hiking up to top of Tableland


Standing on rocks originating anywhere from 5 to 15 km below the water of an ancient ocean from 500 million years ago…



We also went for day hike on Quirpon Island at the extreme northern tip of Newfoundland and on the shores of "Iceberg Alley".  We were too late in the season to see any iceberg passing by but we were overwhelmed by the secluded and dramatic landscape.

An awesome experience, in the true sense of the word, when one realizes that it was in this area that the Vikings made the first landing in North America 500 years before Columbus.

Quirpon Island

Quirpon Island

Among others we also stopped in Cow Head, a wild flower paradise:


Cow Head

4:09 p.m. on October 9, 2012 (EDT)
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Very, very interesting report! The geology sounds fascinating, and the terrain is truly spectacular. And it sounds like everybody had a good time, too.

Thanks a lot!

4:46 p.m. on October 9, 2012 (EDT)
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That's beautiful, guyd! Thanks for sharing these beautiful shots. I'm glad your family was able to experience it together.

Gros Morne National Park is on my own list of places to explore someday. Thanks for the reminder of why I want to go there!

12:14 p.m. on October 10, 2012 (EDT)
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Great Report!

8:42 p.m. on October 10, 2012 (EDT)
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I want to go now-great report!

7:20 p.m. on October 11, 2012 (EDT)
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You have just gotten a taste of what Newfoundland has to offer, having hiked both the Long Range and North Rim together they should be your next experience. Both are confidence builders and challenges even if you separate out the two they are experience you will never forget.

Then there is the new IAT all I can say is wow. I am putting together a review for that so watch for the photos which do no justice to the views.

I also hope you got to experience the people of Rocky Harbour words can not describe  there willingness to open their homes and invite people in for a good ole fashion good time.

Newfoundland is a hikers dream and treasure that you just want to share with everyone.

Please if you want more info for future trips please contact me have all kinds of stuff

11:24 a.m. on October 12, 2012 (EDT)
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Wow.. great report.. adding NewFoundland to my list!

9:17 p.m. on October 13, 2012 (EDT)
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That is some outstanding scenery. Thanks for sharing because I had no idea that Newfoundland was that beautiful.


8:48 a.m. on October 14, 2012 (EDT)
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Native of Gros Morne here (and ex Park staff, full disclosure). Wonderful report, you're spot on. Good choice of trails, too. The big traverses each take four days minimum, so if you can't do it all, do these. And your pictures almost do it justice :) I could use this report instead of Park literature when I'm playing guide. Isn't she a beauty? Thanks for this!

6:32 p.m. on October 17, 2012 (EDT)
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''I also hope you got to experience the people of Rocky Harbour words can not describe  there willingness to open their homes''

Yes we did find Newfoundlanders to be really kind and welcoming!

October 4, 2015
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