A Holding Place
When Newfoundland sailors sought sanctuary from an oncoming storm, they would often retreat to what they call a “holding place”, a sanctuary, a safe harbour.
I liken Gros Morne to a holding place. A place that allows us to know and remember what this planet was once like. Part of the National Parks system in Canada, it is a wilderness protected, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gros Morne is the way it used to be: not just a century ago, or even a millenium ago, but up to 600 million years ago, when these stark mountains were shoved up from the force of colliding continents. Indeed the development of the theory plate tectonics was arrived at in part through studying the rock formations here.
At one point in this mountain ridge, a long-ago glacier carved out a sheer valley of perpendicular rock. Millennia ago, it was a fjord, open to the ocean, but now, separated by lowlands from the sea, it has formed a fresh water lake with some of the purest water on earth. It was this that I decided to explore on July 10. I headed for that crevasse you see beyond the tallest iris above, about an hour’s walk from the road through lowland and bog. Once there, I picked up a boat which takes visitors around the glacial lake. (The boat was transported into the lake in pieces by helicopter and reassembled — they didn’t want to damage the delicate ecology of the boglands by transporting it overland.)
Along the way, the bog offered some interesting explorations. Bogs are low in nutrients, so some plants have developed strategies to survive. This pitcher plant — by the way, it is also the official flower of Newfoundland — feeds off insects that become trapped inside the leaves when they fill with water.
Barely had the boat left the dock, than this scene revealed itself: massive cliffs, fresh water lake, and a moose with her calf positioned — just so — at the base.
Here’s a closer look:
Geology writ large
I’ve deliberately kept the exposure of this next photo down a tad, so that you can more easily see the relief of a man’s head.
Half way down the lake, were were granted another treat, about 50 metres off the port bow:
Closer to shore now, and to the boat:
Back out from the landlocked ‘fjord’, I explored along the shore road with these magnificent mountains on one side, the sea on the other.
Notice the mottled coat, with remnants of the winter coat still clinging on. Both males and females grow antlers so, sorry, I can’t identify gender.
Hike to a waterfall
The previous day, July 9, I had hiked along the Bakers Brook trail, a 10 km trek through varied countryside capped by a spectacular waterfall at the far end.
Next: Up the peninsula to L’Anse aux Meadows
(Post covers July 9, 10)
To be continued . . .