27 Sep Gros Morne Outdoor in National Post
“National Post – The answer to ‘why hike’ is in the journey”
The answer Sydney Loney, writer for the National Post, found was through her recent 4 day hike on the Long Range Traverse. This past summer, through a partnership with Tour Gros Morne and Great Canadian Trails (World Expeditions) Steve & Andy had the chance to guide Sydney through the Long Range Traverse. And if you have a read through the article you’ll see how she came to her conclusion.
Highlighting a few sections of Sydney’s article below;
“There is a common misconception about traversing the Long Range Mountains, says Andy Nichols, one of our guides with Great Canadian Trails. “People think, ‘Oh, it’s just the climb on the first day and then you’re only walking across the top,’” he says. “But, as you can now attest, the climbing is far from over after the gorge.”
It’s true, I can definitely attest to that. And the “gorge” he’s referring to is where the trek begins, after an hour-long boat ride through the modestly named Western Brook Pond (it’s actually a long fjord flanked by towering granite cliffs). The boat deposited us on a tiny square of dock and then, with a last tightening of laces and adjusting of straps, up the wall of the gorge we went.
Nichols, who grew up in the mountains, has been across the Long Range Traverse about 15 times. For him, the answer to the question, “Why hike?” is easy. “When you step off the boat at Western Brook Gorge, you disconnect from the world as you know it,” he says. “Over the next four days you find strength from within to meet the challenges — both mental and physical — and find a sense of quiet and peace that’s unattainable in your everyday hustle and bustle.”
It’s true. With no suggestion of a cell signal, the outside world falls away fast and everything you worried about a few hours before (looming work projects, your next mortgage payment, whether your kids are eating enough vegetables) is replaced by an overriding need to focus on where you’re putting your feet.”
“The Long Range Mountain landscape is kind of like Game of Thrones meets The Lord of the Rings. It’s wild, desolate and beautiful —and you feel as though you could easily happen upon a hobbit or a dragon (or, in our case, a lone caribou). Moose, although more plentiful, proved elusive. They’re there, you just don’t see them, Nichols said as we sidestepped what must have been the twentieth pile of droppings we’d encountered (it was hard to pitch a tent without landing on a moose latrine).
Spending quality time with nature is a universal reason to hike. To really see flora and fauna you may never have noticed before (if you’re hiking in your own backyard) or to encounter plants you never knew existed, like the soft Arctic cotton and carnivorous, orchid-like pitcher plants (the province’s official flower) that we discovered as we trekked from peak to peak along the plateau. We also stumbled on a nest of ptarmigan, an alpine, rock-dwelling bird, at the top of one fog-shrouded summit.
Another good reason to hike is that food always seems to taste better after you’ve navigated 10 km of tough terrain. In addition to a hearty laugh and the ability to lead us through the mountains with neither map nor compass, Steve Wheeler, our second guide and Nichols’ business partner, specialized in Thai rice and homemade cheesecake cooked over a camp stove (this last we topped with bake apples — aka cloudberries — that we’d foraged for on a hill near our campsite).
For Wheeler, one good reason to hike is the opportunity it offers to connect with other people. “Take away the buildings, the intricate social structures, the jobs and the distractions and you get a glimpse at the thin line on which we truly live,” he says. “Hiking gives us a taste of that. And even though you’re facing your own personal tough points during each day, you also have to come together as a group to achieve the simple goal of finishing the hike.”
Conversations during water breaks ranged from best-live-concert-ever and favourite Seinfeld episode to somber tales of personal hardships and relationship hurdles. When you’re supporting one another during a tricky descent or handing off the communal shovel during bathroom breaks (the Park has a strict “leave no trace” policy), conventional barriers break down fast.”