The final day. We would get a lovely restaurant meal when we got out. But there was the small matter of getting out. And contrary to popular wisdom, downhill isn’t always easier.
The morning started with a ford across a complicated creek with many pools and holes. I managed to find a very good track crossing first ahead of the two other groups we shared camp with. The ones that followed me did well. The others… did not.
Then a bracing climb up to Upper Green Island Pond camp. Breezy and exposed, with a long trek to water. We made the right choice the night before. The terrain rolling away from this point was up and down, over exposed rock with few mudholes. We made good time.
We stopped for a break at the Bakeapple Viewpoint, which looks down on Ten Mile Gulch, another fjord that had been silted in until it was a lake. Quite breathtaking if not quite as breathtaking as Western Brook Pond.
As Gros Morne rounded into view, we began to see the drop into Ferry Gulch campground was going to be steep. Very steep. Despite the strength of the trail (it saw a good amount of traffic because dayhikers would come up from Ferry Gulch to Bakeapple Pond viewpoint), the steep inclines and lack of good handholds going down made it quite challenging, especially after 6 long, taxing days. We took our time picking our way down to Ferry Gulch, reaching there around 2pm. The well established and maintained trail up Gros Morne on the other side of the gulch seemed covered with ants, as we watched the dayhikers taking on the mountain. A couple of times we recognized our former campmates giving it a try. But clouds were forming, and we were tired so we elected not to go for the peak.
And it was a good thing we didn’t. The trail down to the parking lot from Ferry Gulch felt much longer than it looked on a map. It went on forever. The first 5km was brutal – it was a trail, but not gravelled – more like broken out of the stone into fragments. We traversed several scree fields, and footing was treacherous often with shifting rocks under our feet. At least it was dry…
Finally the rocky footing subsided into gravelled trail. But that still stretched on for some time. The map says we did 14km today, but it felt like 18. The trail on the map was not the same that we walked, and I believe the reroute added 4km. The last 5km water was sprinkling out of the sky on us – so this experience began with some cloud and rain, and ended with cloud and rain – but because the 5 days in between were glorious and sunny, we cannot complain about that at all!
A well deserved feast in Rocky Harbour was a fitting denouement to this trip. All told, with the many extra kms we logged getting off track then back on track, I am convinced we made this trek into one closer to 100km instead of 80. As I have said to many people, it was a once in a lifetime trip, and we loved it… but we NEVER want to do it again!
Total Distance: 18km
Total Ascent/Descent: 200m ascent, 700m descent