Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Newfoundland, Part 3

*Note: I started this post on November 19th. I've left the text as it was then, decided to be brief with the rest, with the aim of actually finishing and publishing this post, finally.*

nfld18 lookout caterpillar.jpgI have been a little lazy with uploading and editing pictures from my camera, so I am here to finish off my October Newfoundland trip instead. I know you have all been waiting desperately for this post. I have to warn you, though, it's going to be quite the epic; a riveting story that is full of suspense, mind-blowing special effects, and contains the heights and depths of human emotion. And because every good epic contains a preview or foreshadowing of some sort, I will share with you the following words: climb, animal tracks, ptarmigan, moose.

Oh yes.

Monday morning was bright and still and a sort of innate atmospheric energy. Well, I that's how I would describe it in my fancier moments, but in simpler terms, I might call it a sort of energizing potential. Mom and I went to the visitor centre and paid a park admission fee, and settled on the Look Out Hike for our first walk. It was strenuous to say the least - not for difficulty level, but because the walk was a good kilometer or two straight up a mountain.

The first picture is of a caterpillar along the trail - Mom was a bit irritated I kept stopping to take pictures, but I know for a fact she secretly appreciated the chance to catch her breath.

lookout branch

A dead tree, taken from the top of the trail. There were actually still some blueberries up there - they were delicious.

lookout trail

The view from the top of the trail, and the wind in the grass (sedge? I have no idea).

lookout trail descending

The trail loops around the top of the mountain, and much of that descending loop is boardwalk. About three minutes after this picture, while passing through a small copse of spruce trees, I asked Mom if she would like me to take the lead. "Why?" Because those are fresh moose tracks we're following. "Oh." Two minutes after that, we saw our first close-up moose, unprotected by a metal frame and four tires powered by gasoline. It was awesome. He ran away.


Ptarmigan are supposedly timid, but this guy (girl?) was so cute! I think the beeping sound Mom's camera makes when it focuses intrigued him - he kept coming closer, and we kept taking pictures, so he kept coming closer. He was only eight feet away when he finally took off! I want one.

This is on the trail to Western Brook Pond. The sun was low in the sky, but we wanted to get as far as we could before we had to turn back. Unfortunately so late in the season, the boat tour was only operating once a week.

moose tracks

More fresh moose tracks.

West Brook Pond Trail

Western Brook Pond Trail - Western Brook Pond is where those amazing pictures of fjords are taken in all those beautiful Newfoundland and Labrador tourism commercials. It's actually landlocked!

Berry Hill sunset2

Sunset from Berry Hill - we went up there hoping to see some moose, but we only spotted one shy young bull moose, peeking around bushes as hikers came out of the woods.

Port aux Basques

We spent an evening watching a Gene Simmons reality show marathon on TV in our cottage, and left early the next morning to drive to Port aux Basques. We had another close moose encounter - an indecisive cow moose waiting to cross the road (we stopped for her, it's the Bluenose in us - you know how Nova Scotians stop for pedestrians) - but made it to the ferry terminal in good time. This is a picture of Port aux Basques lighthouse as we leave port.

Jaws of the ferry

The Muppet Ferry, jaws open wide.

Taking the ferry during the daylight hours is completely different. Instead of dealing with snoring hunters, we faced down cheerful bus tours, and had those kind of shallow and yet deeply personal and revealing conversations that often spring up among acquaintances of three hours. I think it's one of the best parts of traveling.

We made it to North Sydney, and stood outside as the ferry made port. The wind was formidable, it blew so strongly it took your breath away. We took the scenic way for as long as the light lasted, and got home at 11:30 p.m. in good spirits, but very
tired. We definitely want to go back.

*P.S: Okay, I take it back. I was exactly as wordy as I intended not to be. But it's written, ain't it?


jodi said...

I enjoyed your posts and photos about Nfld, Sarah, especially since I was there in September (and had similar experiences with drunken, camo-clad moose hunters on the ferry) but didn't do the hiking you did. We were planthunting, and went all the way to Labrador to Battle Harbour. And you ended up down on George Street after the wedding? Tsk tsk! Bet it was a good time. ;-)

Sarah O. said...

But of course! I don't think a Newfoundlander would let a visitor have a bad time, especially on George Street.

I really loved my time in Newfoundland - even the cold cottage that reeked of pinesol, because they had cable and the Gene Simmons Family Jewels marathon made it all better - and can't wait to get back. It seems like so many Nova Scotians my age are actually making the trip farther east, instead of west these days. I can count at least seven off the top of my head who have moved to Newfoundland (and not just St. John's) in the last few years.

I have a friend studying the history of Labrador - like plant hunting in Labrador (I imagine), I think there is still a lot waiting to be discovered/discussed.