Monday, July 02, 2012

Fabulous Faux Fjord & a Shipwreck

We’re now in Gros Morne National Park on Newfoundland’s western peninsula. When we first realized that Newfoundland was an island and a long, expensive ferry ride from the mainland, we thought we might not come here. But I was leafing through a travel brochure and saw an aerial picture of an incredibly beautiful fjord and said “we’re going to Newfoundland.”

Now, I knew this spot was in Gros Morne NP but I didn’t know how to find it. At the park’s visitor center we learned that tourists can take a boat ride in the fjord, which is formally known as Western Brook Pond.


We also found out that to get to the boat, we would have to walk 3 kilometers along a gravel and boardwalk trail. Oh, and after the boat ride we would have to walk 3 kilometers to get back to the truck. We were told the trail is mostly flat, but six kilometers for these old bones seemed a bit daunting. The picture above is taken from the near the start of the trail. The boat dock is in that V-shaped notch you can see in the distance. (We’ve decided that Canada forces people to walk that far to see this amazing scenery as part of a national fitness program.)


This is what it looks like from about half-way along the trail. By the way, I referred to it as a “faux fjord” because a true fjord is salt water and accessible from the sea. This was a true fjord thousands of years ago, but since then the access from the sea was silted in and turned into a bog and and the salt water was replaced with fresh water.


There are currently two tour boats making the cruise up the pond and back. Since the pond is completely land-locked, we wondered how the tour operators got the boats into the pond. The one we were on, which is the older, smaller boat and carries about 80 people, was actually trucked in across the bog. When a second boat was needed, Parks Canada told the operator they had done too much damage to the bog, so that boat, the one in the picture which carries about 100 people, was flown in by helicopter in several pieces and assembled on site. Our tour guide said it was held together with duct tape, but I think he was kidding.


It was difficult to capture the scope of this majestic place, especially with all of those tourist’s heads blocking the best shots, but the beauty of  this “fjord” is on a par with that of Yosemite Valley in California. DSC_0104

And like Yosemite Valley, it has it’s share of waterfalls cascading down from the tops of the granite peaks. Unlike Yosemite Valley though, one must really work to get to see this place, but it was definitely worth the effort. Although frankly, I would have liked to see a tour bus waiting for us when we got off the boat.

The title of this entry mentions a shipwreck. In days of yore (I don’t think I’ve ever started a sentence like that!), most commerce along this western Newfoundland shore was carried out by coastal steamers making ports of call at the various fishing villages along the coast. In the autumn of 1919, the SS Ethie was caught in a huge storm and forced onto the rocks at a spot that is now part of the National Park. DSC_0060

The local folks managed to rescue all aboard, including a baby who was taken ashore in a mail bag, but there was nothing to be done to save the ship. Ethie’s remains remain on the rocks, rusting away like the Titanic. I think the big chunk in the picture is what’s left of the steam engine.

Speaking of the Titanic, tomorrow we leave for St. Anthony where we plan to take a cruise through “iceberg alley”. Don’t worry, the tour boat is said to be “unsinkable.”


Post a Comment

<< Home