Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Gros Morne National Park, NL: Geologic Wonders

Whenever continental plates collide, it makes for interesting landscapes. Such is the way it is at home in California, and as well on the west coast of Newfoundland. Gros Morne National Park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its geologic attributes. Through rain and wind we cycled to reach this place, and our reward was four days of brilliant blue skies.

The thing to do in the park is to take a three hour boat ride up the Western Brook, which used to be a fjord and now is a pond which in reality is just a very long, deep lake. Although there is a hiking trail that goes along the lake edge, the boat is really the best way to see the rugged and wild interior of the park.

During the first half of the trip all us passengers were crammed in the stern of the boat taking pictures. On the way back we settled into the benches in the center of the boat and were rocked to near-sleep by the gentle bobbing, with the awesome landscape as a backdrop.

We spent one night a Green Point, and the next morning went down to the beach. Fisherman's cabins are still active on the shore, and moose antlers are a common decoration. Moose are not native to the island, and are abundant due to lots of habitat and few predators. They are hazardous to drivers traveling at night, and also quite destructive to the native forests. People warned us to be very careful of the moose -- we were to see lots of them. But we only saw one, purposefully crossing the road and oblivious to us.

Green Point is significant because of its designation of a global stratotype point between the Cambrian and Ordovician periods.

And beds striking into to the waters of the Gulf of St Lawrence also are quite attractive.

The morning light provides contrast to emphazise the platy nature of this bed.

At the south end of the park is Rocky Harbour and Norris Point. We took a ferry across this channel to reach The Tablelands.

The Tablelands are barren, a striking sight in this land of dense green forests. The rock is of oceanic crust and mantle origin, and the soil very poor.

It reminded us of our mountains at home, although our mountains are exposed and barren due to lack of water rather than unhospitable substrate.

The wind was howling when we were at this pass. Gusts were over 50 miles per hour, and one knocked John's bike over from its resting position against a railing. We were spent from the 10%+ grades to get up to this point, and the wind sucked the resistance out of us. We turned around and let the wind push us to the east, to the park exit. We were set up for biking, with no hiking boots to climb a peak or a solid car to protect us from the elements, so sometimes we can just touch a place but not truly explore it.
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