Holiday water report 2019
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HOLIDAY WATER 2019 - NEWFOUNDLAND LABRADOR NATIONAL PARKS
By Suzanne Forcese
From walking on ancient rocks of the earth’s mantle, to viewing pristine lakes, wildflowers, glaciers, fjords, waterfalls, Dark Sky Preserves, to being immersed in Inuit culture, dining on freshly caught Arctic char and having an armed polar bear guard as a constant companion, Water Today can attest to the superlative experiences and raw beauty in Newfoundland and Labrador’s National Parks.
Gros Morne National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Eroded remnants of a mountain range formed 1.2 billion years ago by the process of continental drift exposing the rocks of the earth’s mantle – this is the terrain of the 1,805 sq.km of Gros Mountain National Park in the Long Range Mountains.
Located on Newfoundland’s west coast, 30 min from Deer Lake airport and a 4 hour drive from the ferry at Port aux Basques you can explore the park by road, on walking/hiking trails, by guided boat tour or by paddling a kayak. There is camping in the Park or you can stay in one of the adjoining seaside communities of Cow Head, Glenburnie, Norris Point, Rocky Harbour, Trout River or Woody Point while immersing in the colorful culture rich in humor and creativity. Fjords, mountains, beaches and bogs, forests and barren cliffs are what to expect in this spectacular park. Wander coastal pathways and beachcomb among sea stacks. Cruise the dramatic sheer-walled gorge of Western Brook Pond. Spot moose and caribou. Hike to alpine highlands where Arctic hare and ptarmigan thrive on tundra.
Hiking the Tablelands is an experience that cannot be forgotten. Here, where the theory of plate tectonics was confirmed you can walk over ancient sea floor thrust up by the collision of tectonic plates millions of years ago. Descend
through boreal forest to a fertile volcanic seacoast where you will see an array of sea stacks coves and beaches. The sandy beach of Shallow Bay near Cow Head stretches for kilometers.
Make sure you put Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse on your itinerary where you can learn about the people and heritage of the area and even be entertained by local residents sharing songs and stories of the vibrant folk music traditions as you experience the lighthouse at night. Join the fire circle, a medicine walk or explore the tuckamore forests along trails that take you to ocean vistas and rocky beaches.
Something else you will not want to miss is an experience that is part of Destination Canada’s Signature Experiences Collection. The Western Brook Pond Boat Tour will take you to observe the glacier-carved land-locked fjord, waterfalls, billion-year-old cliffs and wildlife sightings. For even more adventure meet a professional guide at dockside, take the shuttle to the end of the pond and then hike to the top of the gorge. Reservations: contact Bontours. You can also take the shuttle to Snug Harbour and spend the day or overnight
Wilderness hiking is available only for those who are physically fit, have good wilderness navigation skills and are experienced in backcountry travel and backpacking. Within the Park there are 6 recommended backcountry hiking trails. The Long Range Mountains, while some of the most scenic hiking terrain in eastern North America, it is also the most challenging both physically and mentally. It is remote strenuous and potentially hazardous. For all you need to know go to:
Don’t forget to carry your water!
Camp or glamp in a Parks Canada oTENTik or a rustic cabin.
Campgrounds at a glance – There are 236 drive-in and 4 walk-in campsites at 5 campgrounds. Only Berry Hill campground has 25 potable water and electrical sites. Green Point campground is open to camping year-round but services requiring water are NOT operational from October 1st to June 6
For reservable accommodation please go to:
And don’t forget about winter activities to enjoy the spectacular scenery and snow. There are 4 groomed X-country ski trails. Go for a night ski under the Dark Sky Preserve. Or try out some snowshoes on the hiking trails. Backcountry Ski and Snowshoe touring will even take you to some overnight options.
Terra Nova National Park
Located on the east coast of Newfoundland, along several inlets of Bonavista Bay, Canada’s most easterly National Park is 400 sq. km of natural beauty where you can kayak or boat from sheltered bays to breathtaking coastline amongst whales and seabirds. The dense boreal forest and quiet coastline wait to be explored along 11 beautiful hiking trails.
In this outdoor playground for families and adventurers you can visit the touch tank to interact with marine creatures and take part in organized activities like guided hikes and open-air theatre productions. Walk up Ochre Hill for panoramic views. Sea- kayak dramatic shorelines amid sea whales. Swim and canoe at Sandy Pond Camp by the seaside or overnight in comfort nearby enjoying fresh ocean air and natural landscapes.
For the ultimate glamping experience try out your “Yome” away from home. A cross between a Yurt and a Dome, this innovative accommodation provides an open spacious feeling with a view. Operated by Happy Adventure Tours this accommodation comes equipped with everything. All you need to bring is food. Contact Happy Adventure Tours at 1-888-805-8881.
Terra Nova offers 2 front country camping experiences each with its own character.
Newman Sound Campground has provision for all types of camping plus the popular oTentiks and Oasis. Potable Water is available. It is the larger of the campgrounds in the heart of the park
Malady Head Campground is a quiet, rustic, and un-serviced. Potable water fill-up stations nearby.
https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nl/terranova/activ/camping/avant-front/camping-information-pcrs will walk you through everything you need to know.
Visit one of the back country camp sites by kayaking, canoeing or hiking. The Park maintains backcountry sites along several park trails. These campsites have minimal facilities; tent pads, bear poles, and pit privies. NO WATER.
How about a primitive camping site that you can drive up to? At South West Arm you can listen to birds and watch beaver in the estuary from your tent. The waters are serene for kayaking.
Play a round of first-class golf. Tee off over the rapids of 2 salmon rivers and along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. During the summer there are live dramatic performances, nature walks and evening soirees at the outdoor theatre. When you arrive, check in at the Visitor Centre to plan your day or arrange for a guided interpretive tour. Be sure to head over to the eatery for a mouth-watering Newfoundland & Labrador meal.
Torngat Mountains National Park
Jagged peaks and glacier- carved fjords plunge toward icebergs in the indigo waters of an area covering 9,700 sq. km of incomparable wilderness where polar bear and caribou roam amidst some of Earth’s oldest rocks. Stretching from Saglek Fjord to the northern tip of Labrador and westward from the Atlantic seacoast to the Quebec border, it is a land where the Inuit hunt, fish and travel just as they did thousands of years ago. Torngat, meaning “place of spirits” is set in the highest mountains in Mainland Canada east of the Rockies. Here lies a place of unusual geology created by some of the world’s oldest rocks where you can experience nature in its most raw form.
From Labrador, St. John’s or Montreal you can charter a flight then a 40-minute boat ride to the Park Base Camp and Research Station - all part of the experience. Be prepared for weather delays and pack the right gear including rain wear, sturdy hiking boots, warm outdoor clothing and a cold weather insulated sleeping bag, as well as flexibility and a good sense of humor.
Join Inuit to experience spiritual and cultural sites and harvesting trips as they gather food for the Base Camp -- a seasonal solar powered tent camp and research station. There’s no internet but there is potable water. Showers, flush toilets and all meals provided make it the all-inclusive spot where you get to hang out with Nunatsiavut and Nunavik elders as well as scientists as they embark upon research from anthropology and physics to climatology and oceanography.
Because it is a remote location the journey requires planning, registration with park officials and the right equipment. No roads, no campground and no signs to tell you what to see, Parks Canada staff recommend that a visitor engage the services of a trained Inuit polar bear guard when hiking in the park. Parks Canada also provides interpretive programs, visitor reception and orientation services, including safety briefings at the Torngat Mountains Base Camp. The Base Camp on Sglek Fjord outside the park, the main access to the park, operates from mid-July to the end of August.
Excursions into the park by air, sea or on foot deepen visitors’ understanding of the connections between the majestic wild nature and the enduring cultural traditions of the people. Travel by boat through fjords amid whales and icebergs, learning about spiritual places from Inuit grave sites to a Moravian mission. Hike across tundra, on the look- out for caribou and bears. Encounter waterfalls and a pristine lake for a swim enjoying the company of local Inuit over a fresh Arctic char lunch and a welcoming cup of tea.
Visitors can explore the park on guided/unguided day hikes and interpretive walks, overnight camping trips, multiday backpacking treks and technical rock-climbing excursions with help and logistical support from TM Base Camp.
Parks Canada also sets up satellite camps each summer to provide support for visitors that are looking for an overnight hiking experience. These camps are big enough to hold 5-6 pup tents enclosed by a temporary bear fence. Visitors can do day hikes in the company of a bear guard.
Enjoy a half day zodiac tour of up-close visits with majestic icebergs. Accompanied by a Parks Canada staff and an Inuit Bear Guard, spot polar bears roaming the rocky shores of the outlying islands. Expect to see seabirds, seals and whales while learning all the local Inuttitut names.
Get close to small arctic flowers plants and insects on a half day moderate hike.
Discover the hidden stories of the Earth’s Mantle on a half day excursion by zodiac that will allow you to walk on ancient pieces of rock. Some have been recorded as being over 3.9 billion years old. Along with a light interpretive hike, staff and visitors will savour a traditional Inuit shore lunch of freshly caught Arctic Char.
Another highlight is the “I am from PitukKik” journey. Stand alongside an inuksuk built to mark one end of a historic travel route that connects Inuit of Ungava Bay to Inuit on the Labrador Coast. Celebrating and honoring the connection between Inuit of Nunavik and Nunatsiavut, it is the highlight of a full day boat trip to the north side of Saflek Fjord at the delta of PitukKik. Watch for black bears fishing for Arctic char and walk the beginning of the traditional Inuit travel route in the company of Inuit who have personal connections to this place.
Parks Canada can arrange travel with an Inuk on a multiday backcountry trip for the experience of a lifetime.
At WaterToday we think Newfoundland Labrador rocks!
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