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Gros Morne - South Rim Western Brook Pond | Gros Morne Outdoor Company
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Gros Morne – South Rim Western Brook Pond

Gros Morne – South Rim Western Brook Pond

South Rim of Western Brook Pond in Gros Morne National Park. 44km 11.5 hours.

Approximate route of Southern Rim of Western Brook Pond

I had completed the North Rim a few times, and had went to the North Rim View Point a few years back.  The North Rim Back-country route, a 3-4 day hike pales in comparison to the North Rim view point because the route takes you further north (for good reason) of Western Brook Pond, avoiding a lot of tuck and rough going.  The North Rim view point is amazing, and one of the little know, yet astounding views in Newfoundland, reminiscent of something seen in Norway. Quick aside, Gros Morne Outdoor Company provides overnight tours to the North Rim view point. Getting to the point, the South Rim of Western Brook seemed to provide a more picturesque route, where you could make your way close to the edge of Western Brook, getting some views like you would see from the North Rim view point.

I hitched a ride into the east side of Western Brook Pond, and I was a little uneasy starting out.  It was late in the year for a day-long thru-hike over the given distance… the days were short, and the weather was getting cold.  As well, the forecast had called for good weather, however, as I made the drive to the Western Brook Pond parking lot in the morning, the clouds were hanging low over the hills, which would limit visibility.

After getting dropped, I took my time ascending the gorge, which culminates in the widely marketed view point of Western Brook Pond (5km).  It took me a little over an hour to get to the top of the Long Range Mountains Plateau, and where I would usually continue on the Long Range Traverse, I took a right hand turn into the unknown. Usually, undertaking such a thru-hike, I would spend a little more time on the ground route finding, especially on the finish (more on that later), so I was little nervous venturing into the unknown…. however I had completed quite a bit of research, spoke with people familiar with the route… regardless I was off.

The first beauty view came quickly, looking over both Western Brook, and the river pouring over the granite rocks where you normally get the view of Western Brook (6.7km). As I continued, the next 6 km were fairly rough where the glacial striations ran north to south, and I was traveling west…meaning lots of large rock out-cropping ridges, hills to climb, and tuck to navigate around. Once I was north of the unnamed pond (16 km, north of two rock pond) the going was pretty good as I headed towards Five Island Pond… as I neared Five Island, I had planned to cut close to the west end of it, and continue up to what I was told was the best view point in Gros Morne National Park.  Unfortunately Mr. Bear happened to be hanging out in that area… therefore I went a bit further west, keeping a pond between me and him (20km).  I wasn’t fearful, I just didn’t see the sense of pushing the issue with him.  In any event I made my way out to the edge… and it was the edge of a 650 meter sheer drop, which was unsettling.  I snapped a few pics and continued along the edge (close to it) before I had to cut south, and inland (24km) to avoid some nasty terrain before descending.

The first portion of the descent (31km – 32km) was really good going, where I descended in a narrow grassy vein surrounded by tuck, until I hit the stream at 32km where things got a little more tricky.  Suffice to say, I would recommend future me, to cut to the left immediately after hitting the stream, instead of descending a few hundred meters before doing so…. it steep and sketchy near the bottom!  Once I was off the plateau and back into the low lands, and typical Newfoundland vegetation (33km) it was a little tricky going with downed trees, high grass and uneven terrain.  I cut by a small pond, through the river, and ascending a small ridge before dropping down to wide open bog-land (35km).  It was getting a little late at this point, ~ 6:00 p.m. with the sun setting at 7… and I had a few options, where I could cut out to Sally’s Cove, or head towards Bon Tours boat house (who operate Western Brook Pond boat tours).  I choose the boat house, where there was supposed to be a trail from the boat house back to my car…. however, there was also a river that would have to be crossed prior to.

When I arrived at the river (38km) it was 7:00 pm and it was getting dark, the prior 3km was slow going… typically Newfoundland rough bog/ forest/ wetland. I had hoped it was going to be shallow enough to walk across…. the heavy rains the night before hadn’t helped. I had to swim.  I didn’t want to. It was September, and it was cold. I took a quick look down the river to see if there was a better place to cross, and there wasn’t.  25 meters later I was across, and quickly stripped my under-layers (all that I wore across), hauled my clothes out of my shopping bags, and kept moving (the most important part, if you sit around you’ll freeze!). 6 km later and I was finally happily finished (in the dark).

My first impressions after finishing were that it was tough going, and I would be reluctant to retrace my steps…. however with sometime to get perspective, it’s definitely worth doing again when the days are longer, so I can make a few side trips and not worry about it getting dark.  As well, I went back over my route and made some adjustments where next time I’ll have set myself up a little better….. the views are simply to good not to go back again.

The ominous clouds covering the Long Range Mountains. Was today really a good day to do this?

First Views. North side of Western Brook Pond

Looking east towards the Western Brook Pond view point.

Looking West. Western Brook Pond cliffs in the distance along with the craggy terrain, and tuckamore

Heading west. Ponds mixed with rock wall outcrops, and tuckamore

Looking west over the terrain I had covered. The going got better from this point

Five Island Pond, and the view point I wanted to hit-up. Unfortunately Mr. Bear (hard to see in the photo) was located in an open section just to the north of the pond.

View from the edge. It was hard to get right to the very edge with a 650 meter sheer drop.

View West. Beauty

Cutting south inland, before a small ascent and then descent off the Long Range Plateau.

The views were mesmerizing.

After this last photo I didn’t get a chance, or didn’t take the time to haul out the camera.  I was solely focused on getting out of the hills before it got dark, and I knew by my pace, and the time of day it was going to be close.  It all worked out in the end.  Good times indeed.

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