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Monday, September 7, 2015

Lichen Diversity on Gros Morne

We've arrived in Maine and we have wi-fi at Camden Hills State Park...sort of.  It took me 3-15 to load each one of these pictures, the longest it's ever taken me anywhere.  But, I promised to finish posting about my trip up Gros Morne in Newfoundland so here it is.

Past the base of Gros Morne is an arctic tundra-like environment which contains caribou, arctic hare and rock ptarmigan and they and their habitat are sensitive to outside influence so dogs are not allowed on this hike. At the base you'll find blueberry bushes ringing boggy ponds, and if you venture out there like I did you better be wearing your waterproof boots!

Xyris montana Ries (Yellow Eyed Grass) - I think!

A few birds flitted about as I made my way through to the boulder gully.  Identification help?

A stream connecting the ponds was brimming with flowers.  The little valley before the final ascent was very peaceful and I was glad that I had chosen to hike instead of taking the boat tour.  Even though it was drizzly and foggy the view was wonderful to me.

The boulder gully veered steeply up the mountain, but it wasn't hard to see which way you were supposed to go.

I even contemplated going up, but after stumbling up the rocks for a bit decided it would take longer than the time I had left and might not be safe to do alone so I just moseyed around and enjoyed the views.

I scanned the ponds, trees and the rocks for signs of wildlife, but all that was moving was the fog as it rolled along, obscuring the summit.

view of ponds from boulder gully

There are two hikers in the picture below making their way upward.  The picture is very deceiving, the climb up is father than it looks. To climb up to the flat topped mountain adds another 4km to the trip, making a trip to the top and back down again a total of 16km which is about 9 miles.

When I was in the parking lot at the end of the hike a couple who came down behind me told me that most of the top half of the hike was socked in with fog and there wasn't much to see.  A sign at the base also informed me that the caribou tended to leave Gros Morne in the summer and head for the surrounding hills.  What was left to see instead was lichen...lots of lichen.  The park is home to 400 varieties, after all.

Every rock at my feet was covered in colonies of lichen, it's probably a good thing I had no idea how long I dawdled there.  While I told myself I was looking for a stray rock ptarmigan blending in to the hillside I spent more time staring at the rock surfaces than was necessary to look for a bird.

In between the rocks even more lichen were setting up homes.

Even though the Parks Canada website warns against doing so a few rock cairns were built.  I assume they do not want them built as moving the rocks around can disturb delicate ecosystems, especially those lichens living on the rocks.

We had originally intended to stay 4 nights and come back to Gros Morne another day but instead decided that our day of solo adventures was enough and after 2 nights we moved on from Deer Lake.
When we come this way again we plan to stay in the park to cut out that hour long commute.

Heading back down

When visiting Gros Morne I would warn those towing RVs that the road through the park is very steep and winding, but it is also the road necessary if a trip up the west coast to L'Anse Aux Meadows is on your agenda.  We had to save the rest of the west coast for another trip, alas, never enough time.  Sometimes those five years we have left until retirement seem a lifetime away.  Now I'm pondering when and what time of year to return.  If we go in May we could encounter snow or ice, June and July could afford the opportunity for iceberg watching but also features those dreaded black flies.  The ferry schedule is a factor as well, the one to Argentia only operates June to September.  As usual, I'm in the middle of one trip and already planning future ones!


  1. Sounds wonderful! We loved our trips to the Rock!

  2. Wow that is some tallus slope to climb. Beautiful pictures of the views even in the fog. I especially like the one of the ponds. Really gorgeous. LOL at the trail signs. Thanks so much for the advice about the road and seeing the west coast. On the trip that wasn't this year we had planned to stay in the park. I assume we can do all of this with a 35' RV towing a car? I really appreciate the time you took to write this and put up the pictures. That's some serious patience.