Monday, August 24, 2015

part one: camping in gros morne national park

tuesday 14 july – friday 17 july

since this would be my first camping experience EVER, sean eased me in with just three nights of car camping in gros morne. we reserved sites in trout river (1 night) and shallow bay (2 nights); both campgrounds were woodsy and nicely maintained with decent facilities (thank goodness! honestly, i probably wouldn’t have been too keen on camping if there were no REAL bathrooms) and nearby/spotty wifi (heh). some of our neighboring campers had very elaborate digs with huge stand-up tents, generators (!), and car trailers. we kept things simple with our lightweight backpacking tent, lanterns and a camp stove, and the trusty civic.

we took a quick stroll around the campground and walked over to trout river pond. it was nice being outside breathing the fresh air after having driven nine hours from maine to nova scotia to ride a seven-hour ferry to newfoundland and another four hours in the car.

before things got too dark, we sean set up our cozy accomodations—supposedly the tent sleeps three (suspect~)—and made a small fire, and i set about making dinner, or rather, heating things up. for our first camping meal we started with rice noodle bowls and soup (chicken noodle for sean and vegetable lentil for me), followed by pan-fried polenta with a sprinkling of trader joe’s everyday seasoning and slices of salami, all paired with red racer ipa (for sean), somersby blackberry cider (for me), and mill st. vanilla porter (halvsies). so far, i felt like a pro at camping :D

on our first morning, we made a simple breakfast of peanut butter sandwiches and oatmeal and brewed some pour over coffee. we were changing campgrounds for the next two nights so after packing up our site in trout river, the plan for the day was to hike the green gardens trail and the tablelands which were in the direction of our next location shallow bay.

the green gardens trail was a great way to start our hiking trip. it begins with a rocky, craggley path that descends through the boreal forest and meadows, winds along the cliffs of the sea coast, and ends at a pebble beach.
we explored the beach and found a small waterfall, muppet-like furry algae, teeny-tiny mussels, and a large sea cove. sean tested the limits and climbed out onto the rocks VERY close to the water and later again on a pile of rocks atop the hill; i stayed a safe distance to document it all.
we eventually made our way back to the car and headed to the tablelands to walk upon the earth’s mantle—its “inner soul.” we took the short lookout trail from the parking lot and followed the small stream through hills of peridotite (rock from the mantle). surprisingly the area was dotted with assorted plant life.
after a full day of hiking and exploring funky landscapes, we finally made our way to the campsite at shallow bay, our home for the next two nights. oh, and we saw a young moose trotting along the side of the road. no big deal.
again, sean set up our tent while i got dinner ready. so domestic~ for our second camping dinner, i made farro bowls with sardines, avocado, and garlic roasted mini potatoes, followed by chicken noodle soup. we had to eat our dinner in the tent to avoid the ferocious mosquitos (bug spray and fire didn’t deter them one bit). soon after the rain started, and we tucked in for the evening; luckily sean smartly lined the ground beneath our tent so no water seeped in. phew. however this did not bode well for our plans the next day: a boat tour of western brook pond.

it rained through the night and did not let up all day. we were still optimistic in the morning and headed to western brook pond decked out in our rain gear, hoping things would clear in time for our boat tour. unfortunately the 40-minute walk to the dock wasn’t enough time for the weather to sort itself out, and all tours were cancelled :(

so instead of a scenic boat ride to view a glacier-carved land-locked fjord, we ened up having a leisurely lunch in rocky harbour at java jack’s—not the worst thing ever. we were hoping for a lobster place but were happy to find a restaurant that featured local ingredients and even had its own organic garden out front.
for lunch we shared:
* split pea soup with ham served with rolls and maple butter
* salt cod fish cake with veggie relish
* labrador hare pie with partridgeberry sauce and kale chips
* cod tongue and cheek taco (our favorite dish)
we followed up lunch with a quick look at a nearby lighthouse and picked up some samples of homemade fudge (cookies-n-cream, chocolate-mint, and milk and dark chocolate swirl), and then back to shallow bay.
the rain finally stopped, so we decided to walk over to the beach, which was damp and completely deserted. as we walked along the beach i scoured the sand for natural treasures. i was not disappointed by my finds: WHOLE sand dollars, sea glass, and an assortment of shells and rocks. with a pocketful of treasures, we trekked back to our site, made a roaring fire, and enjoyed our last camping meal (outside of the tent tonight). i made another farro bowl and added some diced up sauteed baby carrots. “dessert” was canned dolmas. the bugs were out in full force, so we hopped in the tent soon after dinner and rested up for an early start.

we woke up to a cool and cloudy morning, packed up our stuff, and set off on another hopeful drive to western brook pond. this time the sky looked more promising. we hadn’t reserved spots on the boat tour, but we chanced it and were lucky enough to score the LAST TWO seats on the 10am tour—WINNERS! by the time we boarded the boat, the sun was shining, the sky was clearing up, and the remaining clouds simply added to the beauty of the fjord. we couldn’t have asked for better conditions or a more picturesque way to end our time in gros morne national park.

i can now proudly say i’ve survived camping—albeit car camping—and found it pretty fun. the food was probably my favorite part of the experience: figuring out meals that were easy to prepare using mostly non-perishables that could still be healthy and filling. (trader joe’s was a great resource.) also, spending nights under the starry sky tucked snuggly in my sleeping bag with a toasty fire nearby was pretty sweet too. would i camp again? most definitely yes…maybe…probably ;P

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