- Brook and cwm, Tableland. In the middle of hills covered with greenery, The Tableland is a desert -- though it's soaking wet. In fact, patches of ice remain from last year. I have hopes we can reach the head of the valley and look down on the ice from above.
- Tableland. Parking the car on a little-used access road, we consult the guidebooks.
- Impassable, Tableland. You can see why the road is so little used.
- Valley entrance, Tableland. This ridge offers a likely route for the ascent. (s.b. reversed?)
- Merle begins the climb.
- View toward Bonne Bay. From part way up, you can see all the way back to Bonne Bay with Rocky Harbour and Neddy's cove on the opposite shore. In the background, Gros Morne still has its head in the clouds.
840802 - Dwarf spruce and everlasting. A rich plant life shelters between the rocks. Dwarf spruce and pearly everlasting.
840802 - Bonne Bay from Tableland. Higher up, a view of Bonne Bay and the abandoned road we parked on.
840802 - Clamber, Tableland. She's still smiling at me.
- A powerful thirst. Somewhere near the top, after a strenuous climb and many stops to take pictures. Gros Morne is visible again on the centre horizon. Good thing we didn't try to tackle it today; wouldn't have been much of a view.
84-08-02 - Last winter's snowdrifts, Tableland. Looking up the valley at the ice patches.
840802 - Orange lichens, bluebells. Orange lichens, bluebells and cloud-hung cliffs.
840802 - The valley from above. The head of the valley we've just climbed up from.
840802 - The valley from above. Directly below, this looks more like the Arizona desert than a sopping wet mountain valley in Newfoundland.
840802 - Carnivorous sundews, Tableland. More plants hiding in the rocks -- sundews. Watch out, they bite -- if you're an insect that is.
- Closer to the ice patches. Those ice patches again, from up closer.
840802 - Rockscape with grouse. At the top of The Tableland, almost. A rocky plain stretches onward for miles, sloping very gently upward. Can you find the two grouse hidden in the rocks?
840802 - Bonne Bay from Tableland. Another view of Bonne Bay from the summit, with the towns of Woody Point, Neddy Harbour and Norris Point visible.
840802 - Curious ponds, Tableland. Notice the pattern of small ponds in the foreground.
840802 - Thrift? Tableland. Unidentified flowers distract me with botanical problems.
840802 - Unidentified flower, Tableland. Roger Tory Peterson, where are you when I need you? Back down in my briefcase in the back seat of the car.
840802 - Ice patch from above. Finally, we reach a point above the ice patch.
840802 - Aster, Tableland. Even at the summit, plentiful flowers. Is this an aster? My flower identification is surely a disaster.
840802 - Potentilla? Tableland. "Unidentified bush with yellow blossoms."
84-08-02 - Bonne Merle & Bonne Bay. Merle is a little pink with the exertion of getting up here. Now we've got to get back down again, somehow.
840802 - Mosquitoes, Tableland. Clouds of mosquitoes follow our every move, but they're no bother, thanks to Deet. How different the history of Canada might have been if this product had been available a couple of hundred years ago.
- Carnivorous pitcher plant. Although nothing grows on the surface of the rocks, a healthy community of plant life hides in the crevices. Frequent fogs and showers contribute to a lush growth. These man-eating pitcher plants are the biggest I've ever seen.
840802 - Maidenhair fern? Tableland. Is this a maidenhair fern by any chance?
840802 - Meltwater cascade.
840802 - Meltwater cascade. We hear trickles of water melting out of the ice and gurgling off the rocks at the top of The Tableland. They gather in a torrent, cascading down the hillside and leading us back to the broken bridge where we parked our car.
- On the James Callaghan Trail. The following day, we ascend Gros Morne on the James Callaghan Trail.
- Resting on the ascent, Gros Morne. Merle takes advantage of a resting spot near the treeline.
- Down the trail toward North Arm. Looking back toward Bonne Bay from above the treeline. The red plateau in the background is The Tableland where we climbed yesterday. Near the centre, a pair of white specks. These are the patches of ice we finally reached.
- Up the valley. Looking ahead, up the valley and deeper into the highlands.
- Gros Morne, seen across pond. Our first close-up view of the flank of Gros Morne.
- Waterlilies in the pond. A pond at its base contains yellow waterlilies.
- Another pond from above, Gros Morne. Another pond, still higher and further up the trail.
- The scramble begins.
- Merle visible, centre right. We're now on the flanks of Gros Morne itself. Merle is just above the edge of the scrub, preparing to climb this ravine which we hope gives the most direct route to the summit.
- Rushing brook, Gros Morne. A last chance for cool water before committing ourselves to the ascent.
- Turn back you fools. The route is straight ahead and toward the skyline. Ferry Gulch, to the right, is the way we plan to come back. That piece of cloth attached to the sign is an emergency tent for any poor wayfarers who get stranded at dusk or cut off by bad weather.
- Lakes, N.& S. Arms now visible. A couple more hikers are also beginning the climb. At this point we're still near the bottom of the ravine.
- View toward Bonne Bay. Another view of the ponds seen on the way up; and further off, the North and South Arms of Bonne Bay.
- Higher up the ravine. Merle is now about two-thirds of the way to the top. It's loose rock every step, but not steep enough to give much risk of a landslide.
- Now we REALLY need a rest. Near the top at last. Here the trail leads out of the ravine and over the brow of the mountain onto the flat plateau that forms the summit. Looking back down the ravine.
- From here you can almost see the connection between the North and South Arms.
- Bed of ferns, Gros Morne. Even at the summit, the ground below the stones is boggy, supporting a lively growth of semi-alpine plants.
- G.H. and P.N. must have loved it here. The casual leavings of a campsite can remain visible for a lifetime. In a thousand years, someone will do archeology on this site and attempt to deciper the meaning of these cryptic signs.
- Path outlined in stones. To prevent hikers getting lost in fog or after dark, the trail is outlined with stones.
- A stream meanders over the rocks, gurgling along underneath a cover of vegetation.
84-08-03 - Merle resting on the tuckamore. A bed for angels to make love on -- with a divine view besides. A living mattress, knee deep and fresh smelling. This is the famous Newfie tuckamore, the typical vegetation of these exposed heights -- sometimes called krummholz.
- At the far side of the summit plateau, another couple line up a souvenir photo.
- On the brink, Ten-mile pond. The view hits like gust of wind: you're walking along looking at your feet and, within a few paces, a gulf of air looms up and you gaze out over Ten-Mile Pond. The closest comparison is to a Norwegian fiord.
- Hang-gliding anyone?. A perfect spot for takeoff, but pick the landing site carefully.
- It's a pretty steep angle of descent.
- Looking downward beneath our feet, toward the head of Ten Mile Pond.
- Ravines in the cliff face directly opposite.
- On the cliffs above the head of the Pond, a hanging lake.
84-08-03 - Merle following the cairns. On the way back down, Merle follows a line of red-marked cairns.
- Hanging lake, Gros Morne. The same hanging lake from closer up. The trail to Ferry Gulch takes the long way down, round the back of the mountain.
- Flowers with blossoms like dogwood.
- Yellow asters, putting on a bold show.
- Stunted Spruce, Gros Morne. Stunted spruce. The taller trees have to be pretty hardy or well-sheltered to survive up here. The ones in the open try to solve the problem of ice and drying winds by keeping low to the ground.
- Hanging Lake & campsite, Gros Morne. On the way down through Ferry Gulch, we pass this lake with a campsite for those who like privacy. Can you see a small brown building on the right bank where the stream issues from the lake?
- Anyone home? This is that building ... These scrub spruce at an altitude of about 500 metres are roughly equivalent to similar treeline specimens in the Rockies at 2000 metres.
- Odd pattern of boggy growth. Another lake on the way down, filled with an intricate pattern of boggy growth.
- Other hikers, with kids. This family resting behind us had two children; one was being carried down the mountain on his father's back: a man of iron, either that or desperate.
- Whiskey-jack cafeteria. Another hiker feeds a hungry whiskey-jack.
- Dock, Western Brook Pond. A day later and we're off on another jaunt, to Western Brook Pond. After a hike inland ...
- Under way, Western Brook Pond. we board this boat for a cruise.
- Entrance to the fiord, W.B.P. Western Brook Pond is a freshwater fiord whose entrance from the sea is blocked by a narrow belt of raised shoreline.
- Waterfall in a cleft. A waterfall issuing from a cleft in the rock. The boat swings in close to shore so we can get a better look.
- Passenger. Then heads eastward up the fiord ...
- past this sheer cliff, split at the top ...
- Sheer cliffs, chimneys, W.B.P.. with long chimneys begging for climbers -- if you go in for that sort of thing.
- Another waterfall spilling over the edge.
- Sheer cliff, W.B.P.. This fine peak looks a bit like Half Dome in Yosemite National park, California. No doubt, it too will be discovered by daredevil climbers looking for impossible first ascents.
- We decide to pass up the spectacular climbing opportunities. These two fellow tourists have come all the way from New York State in a huge motor home and are practically neighbours of ours.
- Human profile on clifftop, W.B.P. A human profile in the clifftop at the centre.
- Waterfall from clifftop, W.B.P. An amazing waterfall drops out of the sky from the top right.
- Waterfall at head of fiord.
- Waterfall at head of fiord. See that diagonal crack travelling across the middle of the falling plume? Can you imagine inching along that shelf, passing behind the spray to emerge on that vertical edge to the left?
- Head of the fiord, dock, W.B.P. Here's the docking area and campsite at the head of Ten Mile Pond. You could come out here on the boat, camp for a few days to explore and return again the same way.
- The boat turns and heads back.
- The skipper's nipper. The skipper's nipper takes the helm. With scenery this spectacular, even the locals go in for photography.
- Cleft in the mountain wall. A cleft in the mountain wall.
- Split mountain, W.B.P.
- Derek and Merle having fun.
- Vertical cracks, flare. "Half Dome" on the way back. A few more vertical cracks to tempt me into daydreaming about climbing adventures.
84-08-04 - We'uns: Derek and Merle. Better to cling to each other than to unclimbable cliffs.
- Seagulls on a rocky shore. Seagulls on a rocky shore. This picture contains a lesson hidden somewhere. Though he flaps his pinions like any eagle, the seagull prefers a comfortable rock at sea level, near the food supply, dammit.
- Sheer cliffs.
- Sheer cliffs.
- Sheer cliffs. A last view of sheer cliffs dropping 700 metres into the fiord.
- Western Brook Pond. Returning to the dock, the cruise is done. Another crowd of tourists wait their turn at Western Brook Pond.
84-08-04 - Life is a beach, Cow Head. At the northernmost part of Gros Morne National Park -- Cow Head -- wonderful sandy beaches. Jacques Cartier is supposed to have put in here to weather a storm on his way up the St. Lawrence.
- Mermaid. A mermaid tries to entice me into deep water. Notice I didn't say "hot water".
- Glamourous sunbather. Then I meet a glamourous sunbather.
- Woman of the dunes. This isn't southern California, remember, but sub-arctic Newfoundland.
84-08-04 - Merle on the dunes, top right. The woman of the dunes.
- Better take a closer look.
- She descends to meet me. I invite her back to my tent for a snack. Then we're both invited out for tea and a second snack with the Newfoundland couple at the campsite beside ours.
- The Arches, West coast highway. On the road again, we stop at this formation called "The Arches."
- L'Anse aux Meadows (L.A.M.) L'Anse aux Meadows lies at the northern tip of Newfoundland A boardwalk leads from the Parks Canada Interpretive centre to the excavation site.
- View from the interpretive centre. The site of the Viking settlement and the reconstructed buildings is at the upper right. This is the "meadow". The name actually comes from L'Anse aux Meduses -- Jellyfish Harbour.
- L.A.M. The original river of Viking days still meanders across the barrens, but the land is probably higher today. The present-day village is in the background.
84-08-05 - Merle in excavation, L.A.M. Merle is standing within the walls of an ancient building.
- Viking house and boat, L.A.M. The reconstructed peat houses are surrounded by a woven fence built in the Viking style. On the roof, visible through the flowers, are ventilation windows. An upturned boat, also built in the Viking manner, lies beside the house.
- Reconstructed Viking boat, L.A.M. The boat is made of planks accurately chamfered at the edges and rivetted together. In the offing you can see those landmarks that might have guided the Viking colonists across to the Labrador coast and back to Greenland, their original home base.
- Viking house portal, L.A.M. A Viking house, seen from the side.
- Viking house interior, L.A.M. The gloomy interior is more comfortable than you might think. A fire would make it quite cheerful.
84-08-05 - Merle, Viking princess. The walls are built of peat slabs, cut to interlock more securely as they dry out. The interior of each wall contains a filling of gravel to promote good drainage.
- The present day town, L'Anse aux Meadows. Looking toward the present day village of L'Anse aux Meadows. This is sub-arctic barren-land and few trees grow near the sea. Climatic conditions are much like Labrador across the water.
- Rugged coast. A trail leads down the coast, encouraging the visitor to stroll and imagine what life might have been like around the year 1000. Is that a Viking longship in the offing, just beyond that small island in the centre?
End of show.
Back to top