On Friday, October 27, 2017, we woke up to a cloudy morning with light showers at Ingonish Beach Campgrounds in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Considering it was the last week of the camping season, were were surprised to see another vehicle parked on site. After a quick breakfast, I hopped into the washroom and took a nice warm shower. By the time I was done, the light rain turned to a heavy down pour. We sought refuge inside one of the kitchen huts, and wondered if we should wait out the rain to do some more hiking in the area. The weather app said the rain will be continuing for at least another day, so we decided to drive to North Sydney to catch the 11:45 am ferry to Newfoundland, the most easterly province of Canada.
The drive from Cape Breton to North Sydney was very foggy and we had little visibility. We had to drive with our blinkers on but luckily, a truck lead us safely through some heavy construction areas. We made it to North Sydney Ferry Terminal just in time to catch the boat, and we were one of the last vehicles to board the ferry which runs twice a day.
We arrived in Port aux Basques, NL close to 7 pm and grabbed a quick dinner at Tim Horton’s. We tried to find a local restaurant but most businesses that cater to tourists are closed during off season. Surprisingly, the clam chowder at Tim Horton’s was very good but I could not find it again after leaving the province. We drove to Walmart Corner Brook and settled in for the evening. No other RV campers in sight.
The next morning, we did some grocery shopping at Walmart and Sobey’s and visited the Wonderful Fine Market Coop, a sort of indoors farmers’ market. We got coffee from Gros Morne Coffee Roasters, a new business venture by a well traveled couple trying to introduce locals to lighter and more flavourful roasts of coffee. We also bought a jar of homemade ketchup from The Saucy Newfoundland Co, another local startup that was born out of a weekend event. It’s a fun story to read and we met the founders who gave us amazing tips on what to eat while in NL (cod tongues and cod cheeks) and the lesser known hikes at Gros Morne National Park. Their enthusiasm for their business and thick newfie accents were very memorable. They also thought we were cookoo for camping at this time of the year.
The gloomy weather seemed to have carried over from Nova Scotia. After a quick lunch, we left Corner Brooke and drove to the Gros Morne Visitor Centre which was just about to close up entirely for the season. We were informed that Green Point was the only campsite open but the hot water, flush toilets and showers were closed for the season. It’s a very new campsite (or maybe newly renovated) with a few sites that have an ocean front view. We seemed to be the only campers who happily took up one of these attractive sites.
Gros Morne Mountain/James Callaghan trail
On October 29, 2017, we woke up to the sounds of waves breaking on the shore below us. We cooked a huge pot of oatmeal for breakfast, made three bagel sandwiches, prepared a bag of carrot sticks and set off for the Gros Morne Mountain Trail. It’s a difficult 16 km (10 mile) return trail that takes you through changing landscape views of boreal forests, tablelands, long range mountains, and Arctic-alpine habitat. This hike brings you to the highest point of the park and is listed in World’s Best Hikes: 15 Classic Trails by National Geographic.
The entire region was nearly silent as the fog rolled in and dampened the sound of our boots hitting the rock. It seemed as though we were the only two humans on the mountain, so we were acutely aware of any other noise that came from the distance. I had high hopes that we would get to see a moose or a caribou along the hike, and I even saw sets of hoof prints in the mud along the trail. By the time were at the summit, another quick footed hiker caught up to us and we all took a break from the climb. She introduced herself as Katrin, and she told us about her hitchhiking adventures that started all the way in Alaska, and she’s been working her way through Canada before she continues to South America.