Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Grandy River

To Seal Brook Falls, and Back
Today is the day that we leave Burgeo, but first we are going to spend the day paddling the Grandies. Sometime called the Grandy River or even the Grandy Brook River. It’s a bit strange but in Newfoundland they often use ‘brook’ and ‘river’ together. Also any piece of water, even a huge lake, is called a ‘pond’.

Anyway after breakfast we get everything packed and loaded onto the van. We say goodbye to Durim and the Burgeo Haven B&B. We’ve had a fine time here. I accidentally left some of the picnic materials in Ramea yesterday so we have to stop off at the store to buy some things. Then we drive the mile or so to Aaron’s Arm.

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We launch our canoes here and paddle out in the direction of the sea. If we kept going we’d find a break in the sand-dunes and come out into the sea at the Sandbanks Provincial Park, where we were the other day. Instead we turn right at a sand -dune barrier and follow a narrow, shallow, channel into the Grandies. We are paddling upstream now, though you could hardly tell, as we follow a drowned river valley, ria, upstream.

The weather today was warm with clear blue skies. As an added bonus we had a tail wind behind us to push us up the river. On the shallow banks we saw some Great Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca), which a type of log-legged wader, as we turned out of the channel and into the Grandies proper, which opened up much wider. All around us the landscape looked very much like Scotland. We could have been paddling across Loch Tay.

We made steady progress and passed a few isolated summer house perched on the shore until after a couple of hours we approached a small bay into which tumbled the Seal Brook River down a spectacular Falls. We couldn’t get that close but we did find a place with a large flat rock where we could pull up and have our picnic lunch.

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However before we settled down to lunch Carolyn and I paddled around a small headland to see if we could get closer to the falls. In the end the only way this proved possible was by rock-hopping and scrambling to get to the base of the falls. By this time Bill had scrambled up to the top of the falls from the other side. I spent some time taking photographs whilst Bill was a bit miffed as he’d not taken his camera!

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We then paddled back to the rocks and had a relaxed lunch. After that Bill and Janice paddled over to do the scramble up to the falls whilst Ian and Debbie, and Carolyn and I, started our way back. We thought we’d get a head start as we feared we might have to face a head-wind all the way.

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The paddle back actually wasn’t that bad and we made good progress except for one point when we came around a corner to find the wind was whipping up quite large waves. Fortunately this stretch didn’t last for long and soon we were paddling the calm waters back into Aaron’s Arm.

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By 4pm we were on the road to drive the 100 miles out on the Burgeo highway before doing the last 30 miles on the Trans-Canadian Highway to Corner Brook. As we drove out we were making bets as to how many other cars we would see. Most people thought it would be single figures. Imagine our surprise then when we came across a traffic jam. Actually it was just another car stopped to watch a cow and calf Caribou cross the road. This was great but then even better just a bit further down the road we saw another car pulled over and we did too to see what was going on. In a distant pond, may be half a mile away, we could see a Moose lugubriously wading out of the pond before nonchalantly disappearing into the forest. My first Moose. They do exist!

We checked into our motel thing in Corner Brook and then went out into town that evening to Sorrentos, a pizza place. Very good it was too, and they put an egg in the middle for me.

After dinner we drove up to the Cook Historic Site which commemorates the achievements of Captain Cook. Before his more famous South Seas adventures he spent a lot of time navigating around Newfoundland charting the coast. We watched the sun go down over the Bay of Islands and looked down on the huge wood-pulp mill in Corner Brook. This separates the town from the sea and explains why the town has no sea-front to speak off. When I got home and told my mother I'd been in Corner Brook she mentioned that my father had been there too. Apparently he had been on the S.S.John Holt which had delivered wood to Corner Brook before going onto St. John's. One of the reasons I wanted to come to Newfoundland in the first place was the connection with my father. Perhaps more of this later.

Meanwhile. Haha. I saw a Moose. And a Caribou.