I had seen Western Brook Pond’s fjord in the Gros Morne tourism paraphernalia, but ignored it to hike the Tablelands and Gros Morne Mountain. This fjord is a part of the Long Range Mountains, and also the most northern part of the Appalachian Mountains. Glaciers carved out the area thousands of years ago, leaving behind hanging valleys, serrated cliffs and freshwater so pure that its low ion content won’t even conduct electricity. When the depressed land bounded back from the glacier, the pond was cut off from the ocean. Ancient whale bones have been found here.
It’s deep, quiet, and only navigable by guides with Bon Tours. Apparently you can canoe or kayak, but it’s strongly discouraged because of the lack of emergency response nearby and the unpredictable conditions of the area (i.e. rockslides).
To get there, you drive 27 kilometres north from Rocky Harbour, and then take a quick 25-minute hike from the parking lot to the boat launch. Because the lake is classified with a special “ultraligotrophic” status, Bon Tours is the only boat operator allowed to use motorized vessels on the water. Word from the unwise: pack mosquito repellent. How I managed to forget such a necessity after growing up in the backcountry marshlands of the province is beyond me.
The cliffs go from flat-topped, even-edged rock to grassy jaggedness, and at times I had to remind myself that I was still in Newfoundland. No rustle of wind or presence of wildlife disturbed the trip, and if it weren’t for the crowd of tourists jostling each other for a better view, I think it would have been eerily silent. The water is black as tar, and streams cascade over the tops of the fjord from sources unseen but apparently originating from Stag Brook. One is named Pissing Mare Falls, at 1150 feet high.
We dropped off two groups of backpackers on the other end of the fjord, brave souls taking on the epic Long Range Traverse or the North Rim Traverse. These hikes extend 35 kilometres or more from the end of Western Brook Pond, or “as the crow flies,” according to Parks Canada. Both require map and compass skills as well as special permission from the park, and can take a week or more depending on conditions.
On that note, who wants to join me on the hike next summer?