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Thread: Labrador and Newfoundland

  1. #1
    Registered User Dalraida's Avatar
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    Labrador and Newfoundland

    I have been thinking about pulling my camper up to Goose Bay/Happy Valley, Labrador this August. Then taking the ferry around to connect with the Labrador Coastal Road, drive down to Red Bay, Ferry across to Newfoundland, tour Newfoundland, ferry to Nova Scotia, and then drive back home to NH. I figure a good month, longer if desired. Hiking, fishing, viewing, and relaxing. Has anyone been there who whould like to comment?

    Two years ago I toured Nova Scotia for a week, and took the Cat back to Bar Harbor so that part of the trip is understood.

  2. #2
    It was years ago (1983 and 84) and I traveled by thumb and ferry, but Iíd say get there any way you can.

    Highlights:

    The city and harbor of St Johnís, icebergs, the plateau above Corner Brook, Lanse-aux-Meadows, and the smaller (passengers/no vehicles) ferry along Labradorís southern coast, fresh salmon, lots of really great people.

    I want to get back to see more of the Labrador coast and the islands of Ste. Pierre and Miquelon just below Newfoundland.
    Last edited by afka_bob; 03-03-2005 at 08:19 AM. Reason: got the dates wrong

  3. #3
    Tramper Al
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    Newfoundland

    A friend and I spent a couple of weeks camping in Newfoundland one summer during med school and it was awesome.

    I agree that Red Bay, the Straights of Bell Isle, and L'anse aux Meadows are all really cool to see.

    We spent the bulk of our time in and around Gros Morne National Park. The hike to that summit is nice, and there is a nice 2-4 day backpacking route, trailless and above treeline from the east end of one of the fjord lakes north of the mountain.

    We scored a sweet 1 mile walk-in free campsite on the bay (whales passing at all hours), the trail in lousy with moose, and a wood stove /shelter with solar showers at the trailhead. That was back in my no/low budget days.

    Also, check out the church / community suppers featuring local delicacies of bake-apple (a berry) pie and fried cod tongue (just what it sounds like).

    I really want to go back, can you tell?

  4. #4
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    I haven't been there yet (cancelled it two years in a row) but hope to make the trip this year.

    I'm interested in hearing about the must see, must dos...

  5. #5
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    Your trip sounds excellent. My family if from Nfld,so it's an emotional bond for me. I haven't been up for a long time,but we're looking at a kayak expedition in Notre Dame Bay for this summer.
    Rather than taking the Cat,consider driving up through NB and up to Cape Breton. The ferry runs from Sydney to Argentia or Port aux Basque. Afka Bob is right about St. John's,although I hated seeing all the wooden piers ripped out and replaced with cement ones.
    Enjoy the brewis and scrunchions for breakfast!

  6. #6
    Senior Member bcskier's Avatar
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    I went up in '97 which was the 400th anniversary of Nfld's discovery by John Cabot and a reconstructed version of his ship the Matthew was making the rounds of harbors. I got to look down on it from the ferry deck as I was leaving from Port aux Basques. I took the ferry from N. Sydney N.S. to Argentia and then rode a bicycle from there to Port aux Basques with a side trip to Gros Morne N.P. As a bicycling destination Nfld has some drawbacks, especially the lack of shoulders on many sections of the transCanada that is the only east/west road you can take. Nfld requires headlights be on at all times and with a rearview mirror on the bike it was easier to see the traffic coming but they move pretty fast and there are some big trucks on that road.

    The highlight of the trip was Rocky Harbor and Gros Morne. I would definitely recommend that as a destination. I was in St. Johns in '99 as a last port of call before a transAtlantic crossing in a small boat. I can recommend the moose and caribou burgers at a place I think was called Charlie's.

    Whatever you do make sure you give yourself a chance to talk to the Newfoundlanders as much as you can. They definitely have a perspective on life that is shaped by their life on "The Rock" that is worth getting to know.

    P.S. Be prepared for rain (which it is safe to say happened 30% of the time I was there) and cool temps. I remember biking by some local road crew guys who were complaining to me about the heat wave that was going on (I think the temp. maybe had gotten up to the low 80s briefly at some point.)

  7. #7
    Senior Member dug's Avatar
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    I toured the western peninsula of Newfoundland for 8 days three years ago. I cannot wait to get back. The area is huge, but the scenery is absolutely amazing. We declined to hit Labrador as we heard the black flies were swarming and, with a dog, we decided she would just be bait.

    The people are incredibly friendly. I needed air in a tire, and I asked one garage attendant "how much for the air". I got a completely puzzled look, and the reply "Air? It's only air. It's free." Ah...so simple.

    A dream of mine (and I know of Papa Bear's as well) is to hit the Torngat mountains. It is a logistical challenge for me, so it will have to wait a few years. But, you seem to have the time so I say go for it. I'd recommend August/September time frame, as the bugs really are nasty during the summer. You may miss the icebergs (we saw one from St. Anthony).

    Bring extra food. Unless you like deep-fried fish, there weren't a lot of options in the area we were at. We never made it to the more populated Eastern side near St. John's.

  8. #8
    Member MarshallM's Avatar
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    Don't forget the Labrador Interior

    Quote Originally Posted by Dalraida
    I have been thinking about pulling my camper up to Goose Bay/Happy Valley, Labrador this August.
    Dalraida, not positive, but it sounds like you may be planning to drive from Baie Comeau, Quebec to Goose Bay/Happy Valley, Labrador (may still be the only way to drive there, short of taking a ferry). If so, you may want to check on the current condition of the road (routes 389/500). As I recall, the drive is close to 750 miles over dirt road.
    I've driven most of the entire route on two separate canoe trips. The section between Lab City and Goose Bay used to have some very rough sections, but I understand that the road has been upgraded since I was last on it in 1989.

    There are dozens of scenic, wild, and very remote rivers that spill off of the Labrador plateau that make for some great paddling and fishing opportunities.

    Sounds like a great trip!

    Marshall
    So far the portage is toil and bloody sweat; fine for the cultivation of a bullneck and very bad for the intellect. Elliot Merrick, "True North"

    Pictures

  9. #9
    Senior Member rhihn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bcskier
    The highlight of the trip was Rocky Harbor and Gros Morne. I would definitely recommend that as a destination. I was in St. Johns in '99 as a last port of call before a transAtlantic crossing in a small boat. I can recommend the moose and caribou burgers at a place I think was called Charlie's.
    Several years ago our primary destination was Gros Morne, and we did the Long Range traverse (about 3 1/2 days for us). Incredible scenery, wildlife (the caribou seemed to be following us!) and wonderful people in the towns (saw almost no one on the hike). The ranger really grilled us, checked maps, gear, and required us to view a film. I understand now that they require one member of your party to have an electronic tracking device, in case a search is necessary. Newfoundland has a reputation for rain, though we saw almost none the whole time we were there.
    Dick

  10. #10
    Registered User Dalraida's Avatar
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    Planning stage

    According to what I have downloaded so far, the worst roads have been upgraded in the last two years, but are stiil unpaved. My vehicle is a 4WD Chev Suburban Assault Vehicle that just loves pulling my pop-up on dirt roads. After just getting back from living in Idaho, gravel roads are its forte.

    A gravel and rock screen are going to be added to the front of the Coleman this Spring with rear mud flaps to the truck.

    Two gallons of bug dope is on order, and just might suffice.

    My fly rods and kit are destined to be on top of my supplies

  11. #11
    Taking the coastal ferry along Labrador was nice: somebody else did the driving, wonderful views and virtually no bugs!

  12. #12
    Senior Member LittleBear's Avatar
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    I spent 10 days in Newfoundland back about 20 years ago . What a beautiful place. I was there in July, and the weather was mostly on the cool side. Saw ice floes around St. Anthony, and the temps that day only got up to 55.

    One thing I do remember was stopping to walk along a "beach." I use this term loosely 'cause there wasn't much sand - it was mostly 3" smooth rocks. The black flies were fierce! I don't think they had seen a human in more than 10 years. I was only outside for about 5 minutes before they forced me back in the car. The back of my neck was dripping blood from all the bites.

    Have fun - when I was there it was a wild and wonderful place - I hope it still is.
    "If you hold onto the handle, she said, it's easier to maintain the illusion of control. But it's more fun if you just let the wind carry you."

  13. #13
    Senior Member Mac's Avatar
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    August - September

    The worst of bug season is over by the latter half of August, first half of September in Newfoundland/Labrador. You may, however, hit early snow by Labor day (or even earlier, some years).

  14. #14
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    Timely topic. Last night at a Poter Square (Cambridge) bookstore Larry Millman spoke ... I missed it. He had written the introduction to Lure of the Labrador Wild. I don't remember the auhtor but it was a terrifc book and there were two sequels.

    I will post some information and links about a Labrador trip, fly to Goose Bay, boat north to explore the coastal towns and do some hiking in the Torngats. I will post that thred with a couple links under events.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Dalraida
    According to what I have downloaded so far, the worst roads have been upgraded in the last two years, but are stiil unpaved. My vehicle is a 4WD Chev Suburban Assault Vehicle that just loves pulling my pop-up on dirt roads. After just getting back from living in Idaho, gravel roads are its forte.
    If the earlier 750 mile estimate is accurate, I would give it some serious thought before towing something up it.

    In 2000 we considered doing the Dalton Highway in Alaska (450 miles) by ourselves and after some careful consideration, opted for a fly-in, drive out tour. Not as adventurous, but it turned out well for us. We met up with some folks later in Denali who had pretty much destroyed their RV driving up and back. They were wrestling with the decision to undertake the extensive repairs or just scrap it, and that was in the relative (to Labrador) metropolis of greater Fairbanks.

    The Dalton is gravel, but in excellent repair -- if this road is rough in places, well, once again, towing is a big consideration.

    Your Idaho experience should give you a yardstick of sorts, but these places are measured in miles, not feet.

    Reversing your trip and taking the car ferry to Goosebay as the first leg could give you the option to turn back around and take the ferry back if necessary (or even just desirable) while still letting you get into some backcountry.

    Just a thought, you know your limits better than I do

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