Monday, September 22, 2014

A Memorable Mountain Climb

Derick and I were born and raised in Newfoundland, Canada. We now live in Ontario, where we have raised our two children.

When our children were young, we took several trips back to our homeland. We not only wanted them to see family that still resided there but to also witness the beauty of this vast, island province.

On this one particular visit our family, as well as my father and mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and her two children took a camping trip to Gros Morne Park. It's the largest and most spectacular National Park in eastern Canada. And the scenery is breathtaking. 

Upon arriving at our campsite, we couldn't help but notice this mountainous, panoramic view starring down at us. Over the years, we had heard a lot about the must-do trip up the mountain, and now, we were left wondering if we could take on this difficult challenge.

It would be no easy stroll. The mountain is 806 meters above sea level. And depending on your pace, the hike would be anywhere from 4-6 hours from the base of the mountain and back down again. Encountering climatic changes, such as dropping temperatures and gusting winds, would also be a factor. But after much pondering and researching, on a beautiful clear morning, with two lightly packed backpacks, good footwear, and proper clothing, my husband and I, our two children, as well as my sister-in-law and her two children set out to embark on, what we would come to know, as one of the most beautiful and difficult adventures of a lifetime.

The first stage of our journey consisted of a 4 km hike into the base of the mountain, which took approximately 45 minutes. At one point, my sister-in-law and I had reservations about the bigger challenge that lay ahead of us as this relentless, forested path, of treacherous hills and turns, left our pounding hearts racing as if we were competing in a marathon. But in the distance, the mountain view intrigued and inspired us to keep going.

Heading to the base of the mountain.
Me and Sis taking a rest.

The view from the base of the mountain.

When we arrived at the base of the mountain, we diligently filled our tummy's with food and water. Sitting on a bench and enjoying the much needed break, we could see a cluster of small ponds. And in the distance, we witnessed the slope of the mountain as well as some sheer rocks and jagged peaks.    Even though the above scene may not look rigorous or intimidating, it proved to be otherwise. We literally were crawling on our hands and knees, until we reached the summit. The sign at the fork in the path that said: “ DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE MOUNTAIN,” we soon came to discover the clear indication as to why. 

Cousins in awe of the snow.
Yes, snow in August!

Being young and resilient, the kids would rush ahead of us, but they were never allowed out of our sight. The mountain was known for its thick, grey fog, which appeared out of nowhere, so we wanted to make sure safety was in tack, and we followed the labelled, trail markers.

Photo shoot with the best guide in the world :)

Another rest break for Me and Sis.

With our painful, stretched calves, and feeling light headed from the pristine mountain air, Sis and I longed for rest stops, and a pick-me-up of beef jerky and water. Sitting on the rocks, with the cool breeze brushing against our face, we felt so refreshed. But we knew it had to be short-lived if we were to reach the summit, and arrive back to our campsite before dark

After two hours of sheer climbing, we would reach the summit. We were in awe!  It felt like we were on another planet. The view was breathtaking. The mountain was surprisingly flat with snow patches. The air was crisp, with some rain, wind, and fog. There were also grassy meadows of low, grown plants that grew bake-apples, which are known for their delicious jams and pies in Newfoundland.

Yes! We reached the summit!


Before our descend down the mountain, we hung out and took pictures and had a much needed lunch and water break.  And we even had a snowball fight! 

The steep trail had us on a steady march for part of the climb down, so it was important everyone concentrated on the task at hand, and stayed within the guidelines, for safety. Again, the beauty was breathtaking. 

We stopped for a few minutes to admire a primitive campground, which was surrounded around a tiny lake, and used for overnight hikers. As we were admiring the view, out of nowhere, a mountain shower came upon us. It left us looking like a bunch of drown rats, and chilly, for the rest of the hike down.

The primitive campground.

Drown rats! Tired, cold, and hungry.

The mountain after our hike.

Before starting our 4km hike back to our vehicle, we took a much needed rest break. As we sat reminiscing about our mountain climb accomplishment, and Ma’s home cooked meal that awaited us back at the campsite, we decided to take one last look up at the mountain. And when we did, our mouths feel open. It had become encompassed with a thick, grey fog, which the mountain is well known for. We felt ever so grateful to be back down safely. 

I feel incredibly blessed for this memorable, family adventure. Our children still talk about it and hopes to return to the mountain one day. As for Derick and me, maybe in a helicopter! :) 

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