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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

Oh. My…!!! That’s not good!!!

We were supposed to golf this morning at Humber Valley Golf Resort at 10:50am, but when we finally woke up, it was already 10:40am! What do we do best? We pivot!

We quickly showered, had a light breakfast and headed off towards Deer Lake. We didn’t leave our condo until 12:20pm, so we didn’t want to waste any more of this beautiful 16C day.

I asked Richard if he saw a Visitor’s Centre in Deer Lake to please pull over.

Perfect! I wanted to get a map of Gros Morne National Park so we could see all of the points of interest along the way. After picking up our map of Gros Morne, as well as a detailed Newfoundland and Labrador Visitors Guide, we decided to fill up ‘Elaine’ the Ford Edge, our rental car, to make sure we had lots of fuel for our day trip.

The Irving fuel station at the intersection of the Trans Canada Hwy and Hwy 430 North. 430 North would take us to Gros Morne National Park. While this moose was nice to look at, we definitely didn’t want to see any moose today on our drive!

While I had heard of Gros Morne National Park before, I really had not paid much attention to the magnitude of the Park. At 697 square miles, Gros Morne is the second largest national park in Atlantic Canada. The park takes its name from Newfoundland’s second-highest mountain peak at 2,644 feet which is located within the park. The French meaning for the name Gros Morne is ‘large mountain standing alone’ or more literally ‘great somber’. Gros Morne is a member of the Long Range Mountains, which are an outlying range of the Appalachian Mountains that stretch the length of Newfoundland’s west coast. In 1987, Gros Morne National Park was awarded World Heritage Site status by UNESCO because “the park provides a rare example of the process of continental drift, where deep ocean crust and the rocks of the earth’s mantle lie exposed’.

From the moment we entered Gros Morne National Park, the scenery did not disappoint!

The entrance to Gros Morne National Park was a 45 minute drive from the condo we rented at Humber Valley resort.

We stopped so many times in the park since the scenery was so stunning! I think we picked the best time of the year to tour through Gros Morne. We rarely saw any other people and the fall colours are almost at their peak!

A stunning drive into Gros Morne National park.

Every time there was a look out point to pull over at, we pulled over.

Gros Morne illustrates some of the world’s best examples of the process of plate tectonics. Within a relatively small area are classic textbook examples of monumental earth-building and modifying forces that are unique Creating: fjords, waterfalls and geological structures in the park to combine and produce a stunning park. There are coastal lowlands and alpine plateaus.

Burridge’s Gulch, was scoured by a river of ice more than 12,000 years ago. It would have 5 ferries the size of the “Caribou“, stacked one on top other to equal the thickness of ice. When the ice melted, Burridge’s Gulch was left as a hanging valley. There are other hanging valleys throughout Gros Morne, but we enjoyed stopping to read about this one today on our travels.

We stopped for a photo op and a clean bathroom break and Richard couldn’t resist the red chairs to sit and enjoy the scenery.

We stopped to walk a short trail and learn about Mattie Mitchell.

Mattie Mitchell was a Mi’kmaq Chieftain, guide,prospector and explorer who contributed to the development of the Newfoundland economy. Mitchell has been described as “the greatest and most resourceful woodsman who ever lived. In 1905 he discovered the Buchans ore body, one of the world’s most productive sulphide deposits. Since the discovery, the site has generated 16.2 million tons of high grade zinc, lead, copper, gold, and silver with a gross value of ~$14 billion.

A short trail honouring the life of Mitchell led us to this beautiful stream.

Remembering how to photograph moving water…it’s been awhile since last year in Vancouver Island photographing water falls!

We finally came to Gros Morne Mountain which at 2,644 feet is the second highest mountain in Newfoundland. The flat topped mountain is a slice of Arctic tundra far south of its usual range. There is a 11.3 mile loop trail to get to the top of the mountain but we were not going hiking today!

Gros Morne Mountain, Gros Morne National Park.

After stopping for photos at Gros Morne Mountain we quickly came to the seaside town of Rocky Harbour.

Rocky Harbour has a population of 937. We thought we would stop for lunch in Rocky Harbour, but first we had to investigate the lighthouse we saw on the Rocky Harbour sign.

Lobster Head Cove Lighthouse located just north of Rocky Harbour at the entrance to Boone Bay. The early inhabitants of Rocky Harbour were concerned for their navigation into the Bay, so each inhabitant of Rocky Harbour contributed a pint of fuel each week to help fuel a light kept by a local fisherman in his own home. In 1899 Lobster Cove Head was selected as one of four new sites for a lighthouse along the west coast of Newfoundland. The first lighthouse keeper, Robert Lewis earned an annual salary of $504. Automated equipment was installed in the lighthouse in 1969. In 1990 Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse was designated a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its architectural, and environmental value.

The lighthouse was built right into the rock. A small replica museum was inside the lighthouse, with Parks Canada guides available to answer any questions. Richard went in to speak with the Guides, while I went exploring.

I encountered this very unusual forest as I walked down the path to the beach. One of my favourite shots from the day.

Steps leading down from the lighthouse to the rocky shoreline below.

Rocky Harbour across the bay. Since Richard did not follow me, I didn’t venture too far out on these steep and scattered rocks. There was no one else exploring this area today.

Steep and uneven steps back up to the lighthouse.

Someone caught me exploring on my own! It was a little cooler by the sea.

The town of Rocky Harbour as we drove back down from Lobster Head Cove lighthouse. You can see how colourful the buildings are in town.

Colourful cottages for rent in Rocky Harbour.

More cute colourful cottages with fantastic water views.

We had explored until almost 4pm, so it was time for some food but we weren’t sure if it was lunch or dinner, but it needed to be hearty! The Guide at the lighthouse told us about a spot in town we should try and so we headed right there to get some homemade grub!

Fisherman’s Landing Restaurant which is open all year. Many of the local restaurants are seasonal for tourists, and have closed for the season already.

Finally! Lunch!!

Newfoundland pea soup loaded with vegetables and ham for me. Richard had the fisherman’s platter with fresh cod, atlantic salmon, shrimp, scallops with boiled carrots, turnips and fresh mashed potatoes. I had a BLT which was just ok. The soup was delicious and Richard said the cod was the best he had ever had! We found it unusual that my soup and Richard’s potatoes came with packets of margarine instead of butter, but I learned that the dairy industry in Newfoundland was not well developed at the turn of the century, so margarine was used instead, and still preferred by many today in Newfoundland.

After lunch we headed down the road 10 minutes to the very small town of Norris Point where only 602 people live in this isolated cove.

The view of Norris Point from the Burnt Hill hiking trail. As I was taking this photo a tour bus pulled into the parking lot. Oceania cruises had brought a group of cruisers from their ship in Corner brook for the day to Gros Morne National Park. As the cruisers exited their bus, we left the area, not wanting to be swarmed by tourists!

Norris Point Marine Biology Centre. Another tour bus from Oceania cruises was waiting for the passengers to walk back to the bus. We had seen that there was a water taxi which would take us from Norris Point to Woody Point, but after inquiring we saw that the water taxi ran only seasonally, so we couldn’t get to Woody Point today.

A colourful house right on the harbour in Norris Point.

An outside trophy case on this home in Norris Point! Deer and Moose antlers.

I walked down the boardwalk to take some photos of Norris Point. I’m glad I did since the following photo was my favourite photo today.

Stunning view from Norris Point of Bonne Bay. The raft in the photo definitely gives this picture some perspective.

Here is the same photo without the raft.

Bonne Bay, Norris Point.

We headed over to see where the bus tour people had been exploring and Richard took this photo.

We stopped in Rocky Harbour at the Gros Morne craft store to support some local artists. I bought my new tam hat and I’m glad I did. The temperature had dropped to 8C and the skies were clouding over as we headed for home.

We really enjoyed our day pivoting to sightseeing instead of golfing and having the opportunity to explore Gros Morne National Park on a glorious fall day. I know we should have spent more time in the Park, but today gave us a taste of how beautiful the Park is and whet our appetite to come back another time to explore more. We definitely feel like we picked the right time to explore Newfoundland, with great weather, beautiful, stunning fall colours and very few tourists.

Richard has set an alarm for us tomorrow at 9;30am, just in case we have another “sleep in” day! We do want to golf Humber Valley Golf Resort again tomorrow and we have another full day of exploring on Sunday before our evening flight home Sunday night. It’s raining now but it will be sunny and 15C tomorrow…perfect fall golf weather!

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