Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gros Morne Mountain Hike, Or the day I really thought I wouldn't make it

Back in August, in the aforementioned trip across Newfoundland, Patrick and I spent some time in Gros Morne National Park.

Now, if you've read about my previous travels, you'll know that I'm not opposed to a long walk. I've walked 10 miles in the pouring rain just to get to a ferry on a bus-less day. According to my Dad, I move faster than most armies when I'm out doing long-distance hikes.

However, I do have some weaknesses in hiking. One is hills. I grew up on PEI, where there may be hills all over the place, but they don't keep going up for that long (all less than 500 feet). So hills do slow me down and tire me out, but I can generally plug away and manage them eventually.

But I have a greater weakness than hills - heat. Heat wipes me out from any activity other than laying in the shade and eating frozen things. And by heat, I mean anything above 25 degrees Celsius. We can probably blame my inability to suffer heat on my ancestry; my genes expect me to be in the British Isles, not in a Canadian summer.

So what this is leading me to is the day that Patrick and I climbed Gros Morne Mountain, or as I called it, the Overgrown Gravel Heap. It was hot and humid that day - in the vicinity of 30 degrees Celsius. To do the hike, you start with a half hour walk through the woods and then a bog, going slightly uphill all the while, to get to the base of the mountain. Then you have to climb it (the rocky path up the middle of the picture below).
Midway through the first "easy" section of the hike, I felt like I was the unfittest person imaginable. My energy was gone, I was stumbling along unable to lift my feet, hunched over and I felt like I was on some sort of death march. I told Patrick so, but he insisted on me coming along, saying that it would be cooler on the mountain because there would be a breeze. Let's just say it wasn't cooler enough.

Here's Patrick starting up the mountain, amongst some of the smaller rocks we would climb through.

The photo below is looking back down the mountain from where we'd climbed so far. By this point, I was climbing from large rock to large rock - moving for about a minute or two, and then sitting down on a large rock for a minute or two. It took us over two hours to climb the mountain itself, about 400 metres (the mountaintop itself is 800 metres above sea level). It was breezier, but it was still too hot for me.
The rocky, flat top.

Looking down at one of the ponds and towards the coast on the other side of the mountain.

Anyway, the hike was finished (after coming down the other side of the mountain you go around the base and it takes even hours more) with me exhausted. I would do that hike again, but only if it were a cool day.

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