Gros Morne is named after Newfoundland’s second highest peak at 2,644-feet (806-meters), a great brooding rock in the Long Range Mountains. The mountains are a continuation of the Appalachian chain. In French the name translates, “Large Mountain standing alone,” but the locals call it, “The great sombre.”
Despite the sadness associated with the name, Gros Morne Mountain is the driving force behind a prolifically successful tourism industry. The mountain continues to be revered by those who climb it and by those who choose to stare up at it in awe. This is a hiker’s mecca.
There are over 100 kilometers of trails for all abilities and interests to enjoy around the Park. Terry and I have already hiked most of the trails earlier this week and are feeling shabby, achy and tired.
The squirrel I fed last night is back. He wants more trail mix and is making his voice heard throughout the trees at the crack of dawn, but the sun is rising and I feel its warmth on my face as I unzip out the tent and prepare for the day. We are off to explore a Canadian National Treasure.
The Tablelands where the quiet is so thick this morning we can almost touch it, and we whisper, as if in an alien land on arrival.
This rusty-barren landscape resembling Mars tells the incredible story of Earth’s transformation. Here glaciation has laid out the bare bones of the Earth, helping geologists understand plate tectonics and the colliding of two continents. These rocks are considered the best example of exposed mantle material in the world, and are actually dark green underneath.
Terry and I hike over the ancient ocean floor to the base of the mountains. At half-past seven, an intense golden sun overlooks the peaks of the mountains drawing with it all the light from the sky, changing from off-pink to lemon to light eggshell to baby blue.
I watch silently as the barren mountains light-up golden. The rest of the Park’s landscape is a rich fertile emerald-green and the two types of landscape brilliantly contrast. Now I can understand why so many visitors to Gros Morne are moved to flights of poetic fancy.
This is the great outdoors. Travel of this kind, when your hands get dirty and when contact is made, brings home how much we see on television, online or even in print, and how little of it we really know.
Gros Morne National Park captured Terry and I, heart and soul, and its fascination – a promise of an out-of-time, out-of-place paradise – endures.