In Gros Morne National Park, these words are sacred: “Leave only footprints, take only pictures, and kill only time.” Plan on doing a lot of each of those things when you visit.
There are countless lists of must-dos, must-sees, must-stays for the area, but let me tell you about one must item on my list, as a native Newfoundlander. You must book the Western Brook Boat Tour, operated by BonTours.
BonTours website offers this: “The landlocked fjord of Western Brook Pond is a rare sight, especially in our part of the world. Carved by glaciers, and home to plenty of waterfalls and wildlife, it’s worth the trip alone.” I wholeheartedly agree.
You can stay nearby in Norris Point, Rocky Harbour or Woody Point. When you arrive, you’ll take a 3km walk to the dock. The walk itself is lovely, taking you on a well-manicured trail through an evergreen forest and boardwalk over a quiet, grassy bog. The walk helps build the anticipation of what awaits at the end of the trail.
There, you’ll find the dock at the bottom of Western Brook Pond, the largest lake (at 16kms and a depth of 165m) in Gros Morne National Park and overlooking the entry to the glacially-carved fjords. Once aboard the boat, you’ll set out along the pond into the valleys of the Long Range Mountains. These mountains are the northern tip of the Appalachian Mountains (or what are often referred to as simply the Appalachians).
Here, in this landlocked fjord, you can spot waterfalls, billion year-old cliffs and a variety of wildlife. Moose, caribou, black bears, red foxes, Arctic foxes, snowshoe hares, lynxes, river otters and beavers are among the fauna that call this spectacular place home. There are also salmon, brook trout and Arctic char. Flora-wise, Gros Morne is predominantly a boreal forest with its balsam firs, red maples and yellow birch. Sixty percent of the island’s flora can be found in this region alone since Gros Morne is home to some 700 plant species. You can learn more about the area via the Parks Canada website.
The photos I took were taken in July. I recommend dressing warmly, e.g., a spring or fall jacket and scarf. You may even want a hat and gloves and definitely bring an umbrella and rainwear. Once the boat leaves the dock, the wind can pick up. It’s the kind of cold breeze that can bite, so be prepared!
Post-trip, I wanted to savour the moment by working on a landscape painting. I painted this one under the guidance of Canadian landscape painter Gordon Harrison. Following the same technique as I described earlier, I sketched the image from a photograph, then applied India ink, then used oil paint, finishing with a varnish. Without Gordon’s guidance I may not have made the bold colour choices, but I love the final product.
I’m in the midst of planning our trip back this summer. It’ll be the first trip for our daughter, Navya Amelia Verma (she was born in November 2017). That’s what prompted me to revisit these photos. I can’t wait to take new ones and make new memories in this beautiful place I’m lucky enough to consider home. Until then!