Day 2 in Gros Morne National Park

My hopes of going hiking up the Tablelands on Sunday were dashed. The rain had not eased. After breakfast we drove in their direction anyway, stopping in at another visitor centre and checking out their displays.

There was interpretation about the caribou population in Gros Morne. It showed that the caribou spent the winter in the boundaries of the national park but in summer they went outside it, presumably into privately owned land. Parks Canada, or the relevant government department, is working with local landholders to protect the species in these areas, but they cross massive distances that I don’t see how they can have much luck. It’s sad.

Moose, on the other hand, are booming across Newfoundland. They were introduced in the 1870s and there are so many in the national park that they have allowed hunting of them or else they’d decimate the place. All those moose and we still haven’t seen one.

And finally, there was a display about climate change and the likely effect on Canada’s wild places, with boreal forest becoming temperate forest and so on and so forth. Newfoundland is set to change forest type completely, though it’s going to be difficult as it’s an island so I would have thought the plant and animal species required for such a forest just won’t be here. Scary to think how it’s all going to change.

I also learned at the visitors’ centre that the red berries I’d been seeing everywhere are crackle berries and they’re edible. Because I’d seen so many of them, and they’re red, that they were poisonous. I asked a guide about them and she said they were edible. Newfoundland has a lot of edible plant species. I’d eaten a wild raspberry the day before. There’s even a book about all the edible plants you can eat in Newfoundland. I think going on an “edible NL” tour would be quite fun.

No hiking for Dan and Glen

We then drove up to the start of the Tablelands trail. We parked the car and peered out the windshield to the cloud covered Tablelands. It was raining still. We got out of the car to check out the sign but there was enough rain to make the decision to not go on the hour long trek easy. The sign also said that if the top was covered in cloud it would be safer not to go. As we wouldn’t be able to see either the Tablelands or the view down, we decided to give it a miss. All the more reason to return to Newfoundland in the future.

The rain kept up for the rest of the day as we returned north. We stopped in at the aquarium/marine research station at Norris Point. There was a touch pool there with a bunch of children playing with the sea animals. One girl was holding a couple of starfish, at times forgetting she was doing so and closing her hands a little more than I thought would be safe. The guide came over to reiterate the rules but didn’t comment. I had to leave before I lost it. Touch pools are great and all but without some direction and supervision I doubt the animal is being properly looked after.

Next stop was Rocky Harbour for lunch. More rain. More fish and chips. More being ignored by wait staff.

From Rocky Harbour, I drove us up to Cow Head where we were staying the night at Shallow Bay Motel. Glen slept for a bit. There were no more stops along the way. I was looking forward to not driving for a little while.

Overnight in Cow Head

We arrived at about 3 or 4, checked in. I think I napped. Then we went for dinner at the hotel restaurant. Glen had been pestering since 5 to go for dinner but I thought that was a ridiculous time to go eat. We managed to last until 6. The dining room was packed. There’s a theatre next to the hotel and the show was starting at 7pm. People were getting their feed in before heading off to that.

We shared a table with an older couple. We chatted to them a bit so it was all very pleasant. At twenty to seven, the restaurant just about emptied. We finished just before seven and asked about tickets to the show but they’d sold out. We went back to the room, and thought it would be a good idea to go for a drive to try to see moose. It was dusk, the best time for them, but we weren’t in luck. It was raining so they were probably all inside watching TV.

We returned to the hotel, watched an episode of Poirot on TV, then a mixture of other shows before going to sleep around 10:30.

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