On the third day…
This is what is known on the Northern Traverse as the “Tuckamore Day”. Newfoundland is famous for low scrubby black spruce bunches, twisted and bent by deep snowpack and howling winds. This type of forest is rarely taller than 8 feet, and often around 5 feet or less. But the height means nothing. It is DENSE. It is tangled and vicious and it snags on everything, pulls on everything, it cuts bare legs and scratches legs in pants. And up top on the Traverses of Gros Morne, there are many many patches of Tuckamore to navigate through.
We actually hit the first bunches of them on Day 2 but they were relatively minor. On this day we would be fighting them all day long. The GPS track we were assigned was our only guide most of the time, as the “trail” would fade in and out of sight. And when the track let to Tuckamore, it was a misery trying to spot where the bush would give way to a slightly more passable tangle than the untouched parts. It would not be a trail or an opening we would be looking for – just a slightly less dense passage. And because GPS is typically only accurate to 2-4m, we could be standing right next to the right path and not even see it.
But to our experience. Up reasonably early, the headland was socked in with swirling fog. We had been warned that fog could sock in so hard we might have to wait hours for it to clear. But thankfully, the fog began to clear before 9am. It was thin enough that we could get going. And it burned off before an hour or two passed, giving way to a beautiful sunny day.
That was good, because as I said, the navigation was hard. My wife managed to find a soft spot in the swamp and sank one leg up to her thigh. I hit a spot before long too. We desperately hoped we would see Triangle Lake, the first established campground in the direction we were going. It was only 7km away, but it was a fight. Still, when we would climb a rise, the views of the surrounding hills, especially the distant views of the fjord, were breathtaking.
Finally we glimpsed the lake. It glistened bright blue in the distance. I saw a rocky draw that pointed the way to the lake and celebrated – rocks would be simple to navigate compared to the tuckamore. But it turned out that wasn’t true for my wife. Her balance was not as good as mine, and so we climbed over each and every boulder one at a time, until finally reaching the campsite around 3pm.
The campsite had seen better days. There were three wooden tent pads in various states of disrepair. There was a bear storage locker, but it looked like someone landed a helicopter on it. All our literature said there was a toilet here, but we never did find it. The most sheltered, dry, flat tent pad there had a nice piece of sod dug out and replaced – someone used it as the toilet. Still sunning ourselves on the unused wooden pads in a fork in the little creek that bisected the camp was glorious. There were no bugs there which was amazing. We soaked tired feet in the cold creek water and contemplated taking a swim in the lake. The lake and stream were very cold and the sun was nice but not quite hot enough to overcome our fear of the chilly water.
The sun allowed us to dry out wet shoes and socks, and wet tent from the night before. It definitely increased morale! We began to look forward to the next day where we hoped to get all the way to famous viewpoint.
Distance: ~7km officially, 15km according to my Garmin
Ascent/Descent: 200-300m both ways