Monday, 19 December 2011

Western Brook Pond

Cruising
After a breakfast of pancakes and sausage we head out to Lobster Cove Head and the Lighthouse for a walk around. Unfortunately we were too early for the museum to be open but we had a walk around anyway. It’s a fine warm morning with blue skies.

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We then drove north to where the Western Brook river flows into the sea. On the trail down to the beach we noticed a fence strung across the mouth of the river. Apparently this is to trap salmon so they can be studied. The watershed for Western Brook Pond lies completely within the Gros Morne National park, inside of which no fishing is allowed. The pond, really a huge lake, is a former fjord which has been cur off from the sea, and is now fresh-water. It is classified as oligotrophic which means it is low on algae, high on oxygen, very clear, and full of fish. The sides of the fjord are steep 600m (2000ft) cliffs with many water-falls.

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Meanwhile back on the beach. We crossed over some dunes and noticed some strange animal tracks that resembled a bicycle track. We couldn’t figure out what it was though. The walk along the beach though was great, with wonderful light and brilliant reflections. back at the picnic table by the van we prepared our sandwiches for lunch. This afternoon we intend to take a boat cruise on Western Brook Pond. It’s unfortunate that this lake is considered so pristine that we are not allowed to canoe on it. Funny that diesel powered tour boats are allowed then.

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We drove the short distance to the Western Brook Pond trail-head and walked the 3km to the boat harbour. The trail crosses bogs and marshes as it goes in but much of the trail is on boardwalks so you don’t get your feet wet.

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I was planning to hike to Snug Harbour on the northern shore of Western Brook Pond and not take the boat trip however when I got to the point where the trail left to skirt the lake I found that the bridge, mentioned in the trail guide, had gone. Apparently it would have cost to much to repair and had been dismantled. In its place had been placed a wire, strung across the river, onto which you held as you waded across. I watched a father and son go across, but they were well prepared. I wasn’t. I didn’t have my sandals and I was carrying camera and stuff. I decided against it and walked back to the boat harbour. I thought I could take the trail on the southern bank of the lake instead.

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At the boat dock I rejoined Carolyn and the others and got talking to a Ranger about the Stag Brook Trail on the southern shore. He said it was disused and hadn’t been maintained for 14 years. I was unsure about the truth of this as the boat company have new boathouse at Stag brook Bay and I suspect the trail goes there and they want it to remain private. In any case I expect they want customers to pay for the cruise and save them the bother of maintaining the trails. It’s a pity then that the information provided at the Gros Morne Visitors Centre is not up-to-date and neither are books, the trail leaflets or even the maps out here at the Pond itself. All a bit galling. Guess I’ll do the cruise then.

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Unfortunately this means I have to take Carolyn’s ticket, thanks, and she will spend the afternoon sitting in the sun and reading. She has done the cruise on previous trips however.

It’s a two hour boat ride into the cut-off fjord into a spectacular U-shaped valley. It’s a fantastic ride and the beautiful clear weather makes for great photographs, notwithstanding the fact that the boat is bouncing around and it’s difficult to keep other peoples heads out of the shots. The lake is surprisingly choppy for something that is 10 miles long and a mile wide. I enjoyed the ride and was grateful that the on board guides didn’t shout too much and didn’t talk all the time.

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After the cruise we again had to hike out to the road and the van. On the way home we stopped off again for another walk on the beach. This time we examined the wreck of the S.S.Ethie, at Martins Point.

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Apparently the Steam-Ship Ethie was purposefully run ashore at St. Martin's during a storm on the 11th December 1919. She had been providing a Mail and Passenger service around the coast of Newfoundland. Fortunately all 92 passengers and crew were saved by the use of a bosun's chair run from a line from ship to shore, and with the aid of local residents (and a dog so some accounts have it). All that remains now is a few rusty segments.

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Just down the road from here at Sally’s Cove we pulled over to visit a shop. I bought some hand-knitted items, socks and a hat, and we had some poutine from the Chip Shack.

In the evening we went out to the Ocean View Motel and watched a band play. They were Anchors Aweigh and they played tradition folk music. They were pretty good and played some good tunes between the funny banter. In honour of this being our final evening in Newfoundland I had a Moose Burger and plenty of beers.