It's been a good year for sports and uses of days off. I got snowboarding on Munro Day, to a
N.Y. wedding at Easter, Cabot Trail Relay for Victoria Day, the race for Natal Day, New York
for Labor Day. Coming up is Kedgie for Remembrance Day and Montreal for Christmas. Add to
that 2 days for Mount Washington, a day for the Confederation Bridge Run, a week for
Newfoundland, another week for New York and the upcoming week in Maine for biking in
October. Then add family camping, hockey, road and Mtb races. 1997 is turning into a great
This note is about the Gonzo '97 hike to Newfoundland. We planned to do the Long Range Trail
winding from Western Brook Pond to Gros Morne in mid-August. Regina decided that she really
wanted to take the kids out of soccer and spend 2 weeks in New York, regardless of the heat.
What we worked out was that they take the bus to the City when I leave for Newfoundland, than
I come down and pick them up with the Jetta, hopefully with enough time to get some rest in at
Alex & Pat's. Whole thing worked out pretty good. Most of the soccer was cancelled due to
weather, and New York was unseasonably nice.
The hikers included the Dobson 5 (Gordon, BruceD, Greg, Chris and BruceM) plus Gordon's son
Jeffrey. We had hoped that Paul Veinott and his GPS would come, but he was tied up. Hopefully
we can connect on a Cape Breton or Adirondack trip later. Preparation for the trip included some
stitching on the old knapsack, another MSR pot, lots of food, and extra medical for the snip/snip
cleanup. In hindsight, I made a major mistake. I packed clothes to handle the weather conditions
of the past few hikes. Some of the choices were undefendable in the midst of the actual conditions
that we found ourselves in.
We took 2 cars up Saturday and stayed in Corner Brook the first night. Sunday, it was meet the
park ranger, watch a video, pick up a radio signal emitter and catch the ferry up Western Brook
Pond. This is one hell of a fiord, although closed from the ocean. The ride was rough and wet, the
skies cloudy. Not the nicest start. Any hopes of a tourist look at the fiord were gone for the day. I
had seen some pictures that Gordon had, and some from the Internet. Astounding place.
They play a very unique tape on the ferry, and just as they pull into the little dock, that tape is
describing the many fools who try and navigate the Long Trail, only to return "bruised and
battered" within a few days. Felt very funny having all those tourists stare at you as they pull
We were looking at about 4 hours of slogging uphill, with 1-2 hours to get to the first primitive
site (3 wooden platforms, no fires allowed). It was raining lightly, but quite warm. It got warmer
fast, as the hike was all uphill, kind of rough, and no easy trail, as many people basically use the
path of least resistance. Gordon has a knack for finding the least resistance, so he led most of the
way. The first 3 hours were supposed to be lighter hiking, compared to the last hand over foot
hour, but I found the going rough from the start. The weather started dumping a fair bit of rain on
us, and silly me left my one and only PolarFleece top on until it got soaked.
Once we had about 3 hours in, every one was soaked, tired, and the hiking got difficult . The
definition of the path was fine, but it involved manual climbing. Not much fun. As we neared the
top of the gorge, the temperature dropped and it didn't look like we were going to make the first
camp under any circumstances. As well, our way was blocked with quite a bit of water. The
decision was made to camp for the night on the slope. The entire situation was out of my
experience. Gordon and Greg are seasoned hikers and campers as Scout leaders, and their use of
tarps and groundsheets saved the day. I still don't know what I would have done myself. We
couldn't really find a sheltered, flattish place for the tents. Learned enough about shelter and
flexibility in that first ½ hour to make the whole trip worthwhile.
Anyway, we got BruceD's 2 man tent up, plus enough shelter to make supper and cosy for the
other 4 people on the ground. Took me awhile to warm up. The whole trip changed once we got
that tarp up. We were in control again, and it was a nice feeling. Dinner was great. I dried my top
over the stove and we played some trivia until it got dark. Just before turning in, we had a surreal
view of the outlet of the fiord, which was quite a bit lighter than our surroundings. It was once of
those sights that once remembered, brings back all the memories of the day
The night's sleep was excruciating. I was stuck between a wall of bodies and a stump, with no
real option to move. My bag got soaked (not good for down bags), inside and out (I was still
wearing a lot of wet stuff, including my hat). I was extremely uncomfortable and my hip was
killing me. That being said, I got enough rest, because I was fine in the morning.
The day broke pretty clear, although we all slept until 8:00 or so. We had a big waterfall beside us
all night, but the're no fun in the rain and thunder. The're great on a nice day. The view of the
fiord from the closest high spot was gorgeous. Considering what it cost to get the view, it was
even sweeter. With no rain on our heads and such a view, breakfast was great. Took us more than
an hour to break camp. We even got some clothes dried out a little. The hike to the top of the
gorge was a relative breeze. Once again, the view of the fiord from the top was magnificent in
both directions. The look out to the ocean was literally astounding, but the best part was the
totally wild look of the upcoming hike. A lot of rock, water, mud, grass and scrub trees. No
paths, no signs, no people. A little bit of wilderness.
We chugged along pretty good. Enough people had done this part of the hike, that the caribou
trial was actually a working trail. We knew that we had to stay to the right of a few largish lakes,
and they were easily identified from the topo maps, so we went along pretty good. We hit the first
primitive site within 2 hours and things were looking very good. It hadn't rained and the sky
looked OK, even tho the changes were quite fast. Unfortunately, BruceD was having a very
difficult time, not unlike the first 3 hours of the Pesidential last year. Our stop at the site turned
into a long break, then lunch, then a full day stop. We made the right decision, which was easy,
BruceD was not OK to move on.
Lunch was a treat. Running water, a nice lake, good weather. Not too cold and not too breezy.
Lots of tea and hot soup. Rather than sit around all day, Gordon, BruceM and Chris decided to
fast-hike a few kilometers to check out the lay of the land for the next day, assuming BruceD was
OK. It was a great time. The weather kept getting worse, but the first 2 hours out were hog-heaven. I felt like I was in the move Rob Roy. Rolling across the highlands and a good clip.
Picking up a new caribou trail every few hundred meters and using the lay of the land as a hiking
tool. The topo map kept us assured as to where we really were, but the hike was terrain-based
and I really enjoyed it. We saw 2 caribou, one a young female at 30-40 meters that just stared at
us for quite awhile and then loped off. Very funny feet.
We hit the highest peak around for a look at the next days' hike. Lots of wind, drizzle and cold.
Had a gard time wending our way back down as well. Had to keep any direct line in that terrain.
The trip back, the weather got colder. I didn't have my puff on, as i was saving it for night
sleeping. Tough way to learn. Returned back to camp pretty cold and wet. Everyone kind of
miserable, and too much rain and wind to relax. Supper was a bit difficult getting together. It
warmed me up pretty good, but I still had the shakes. Greg and I had setup the tent earlier in the
afternoon, and it was dry and warm. Even though I had 2 beer with me, the thought never
occurred to me on Sunday, and the likelyhood was remote this evening, as I didn't want to get up
for a whizz for any reason. Just wanted to get warm. Nice and warm in the tent. The socks were
soaked (again, only poly pair I had) so I wore them to bed. Worked out pretty good, as the doen
bag sucked the water from them and they were nice and dry after a few hours. My pillow was all
the wet clothes in my compression sack, with the camp towel (semi-dry) on top. OK for
emergencies, not multiple day travel. The ThermaRest was a blessing. Just like having a mattress.
Slept pretty good, lots of turning over and fighting a mild floor slant, but all in all a good sleep.
The day broke cloudy with little breaks and kind of nippy. Lots of talk about what the day was
going to bring. The group consensus was that going back was the best option. Considering my
total lack of acceptable clothing, it was a no-brainer for me. If I was the only problem, I could
bum enough stuff to continue safely. But we all had minor troubles, and BruceD did not feel that
he could 2 more days. Of course, it was a full, tough day back to the boat anyway. We had a good
breakfast, broke camp and trundled back to the gorge. The park ranger had mentioned that group
decision-making was the difference between a good trip and a dangerous one. We had definitley
made the right decision.
My opinion towards the trip never really changed that much. We ended getting 5 days of hiking
in, some of it as dramatic as all get out. The only thing we missed was the continuity of saying
that we had done the Long Trail. Most hikers end up doing the gorge once. We had to do it
twice. I doubt I'll return for a third run at it.
Gordon, Greg and I took a small side trip up the far cliff surrounding the gorge. The weather was
great, a little warm, and we saw 2 more cariboo, an astounding view of the gorge from the highest
possible spot, and only a loss of about 30-40 minutes. Nice treat. We lunched on the big rock just
where we had camped on Sunday night. The waterfall was very nice. The last high view of the
gorge, perfect. We headed back down, running into quite a few day hikers and another group
starting the Trail. The going was quite tough. Lots of bugs, slippery footing and all down-hill. We
stayed pretty close to the trail, thanks to Gordon and Jeffery. Must be a genetic knack. Everyone
fell a lot. Falling with 40+ pounds on on muddy terrain is not a lot of fun. The slope was steep
enough that you in essence have to let yourself down a step at a time.
We made the afternoon ferry all right. Had to go through the "battered and bruised" routine
again, this time as returners, and smelly as hell. Chris went for a dip. Greg and I each had a beer.
Very enjoyable ride back. Talking to tourists, and bumming 2 lifts back to the cars. There were a
bunch of bikers on board who had been in New Hampshire when we were there in June. Two
guys who had started the Rim Trail were also there. They had decided to stop, and hike down the
gorge at night. Tough trip.
The rest at the boat dock, while Greg and Gordon zipped back for the cars was heaven. We had
worked very hard, and now we were back in civilization. Of course, the weather became sunny.
We stopped in for groceries and BEER on the way back, as well as checking in with the rangers
and booking a nearby cottage. Gordon made a big dinner, Jeffrey rented a good video, Greg and I
had a small number of beers, everyone had a shower and the day ended well.
A glorious day, top to bottom. BruceD made the big breakfast, we packed for a day trip and
headed off to Gros Morne. Nice easy hiking until you hit the rock. The weather was unbelievable.
The perfect mix of sun with a light, cool breeze. I was wearing my sandals and was very content.
As we got highr, the woods cleared and we could see the ocean. Magic. Once we hit the rock,
there was some fun skree to deal with, and then you're at the top. Pretty like 2 hour hike,
especially with the conditions, and the comparison to the past 2 days. The view from just below
the top of Gros Morne was one of the best ever. You could see lots of forest, lakes, the ocean and
little bits of civilization. I really loved that view. We reseted at a cairn on top, then decided to take
the longer way down, winding around the rock to met up with where we would have come out on
our original hike.
Once you hit the crest on the north side, you can look right down into 10 Mile Pond. Easily once
of the most beautiful views that I have ever experienced. I didn't know that it was there, and the
shock was really something. My body and brain were in Hiker Heaven. We stopped for a bunch of
pictures and a look around. There is a hanging valley across the way, with a little lake dumping a
small waterfall into the Pond. I would really like to go there someday... You could also look to
the wilderness that we had just been in. Seemed like another life away at the time.
The hike down was very nice. We stopped for lunch at a small lake where there were 4 guys
working on the trail and living by the lake. Nice to talk to them. I went for a nice cool dip, and
Greg decided to join the Gonzo Swim Team Splinter Group. We talked about setting up a web-site for all this trivia. I just need to go double-density for a few months to catchup with my life. I
forgeot my bathing suit and had to run back about 10 minutes. Boy, do the feet love that , on that
type of trail. Lots of little up and down, strewn with rock. Just like mountain biking.
The day ended very well. Nice finish hike back through the woods, groceries and BEER, with
Chris making the big meal. We even made an evening trip to the Tablelands. Really weird, one of
a kind rock extruded by the planet at some time in the far past. Very little life and looked like a
desert, with all this lush surrounding. Very cool place.
Another good sleep, another fine day, another great breakfast. We tooled down to another hike
(surprise) after hitting a Timmie's. The hike was one of those initial bumps just outside Port Aux
Basques (Tabletop?) That I had forst seen just getting off the ferry 20 years before. Nice
connection to the past. I can remeber thinking that I'd like to get to the top of one of those little
bumps, and here we were. The hike was 2 hours, but tough, as the legs were not up for it. Of
course, a hot, sunny day. Lots of raspberries on the roadside. There was a radio tower gizmo at
the top. We hiked out to the edge and were presented with more treasures. The mixed view of
forest, land, lake and ocean was magnificent. If we missed the Long Trail, we sure got enough in
The ferry included sneaking a beer, playing cards, being quite hot, and getting no rest. The drive
back went pretty quick. Greg drove and I stayed awake to keep him awake.
Got home just before 3 AM and collapsed. One hell of a trip, with still a week to go for vacation.
I woke up early and very tired and spacey. Any though to f driving to New York was washed out
pretty quick. Lots of unpacking and washing to do. I also had to find out if I was driving or taking
a bus. As it turns out, they couldn't find the title and I was driving. whcih was my frst choice. I
read my work mail, cleaned house, checked on Sophie swimming and a prescription for Emily and
went to the store 3 times for 3 items. Very spaced out. The snip-snip had worked out well, even if
everything was still quite sore. My legs were tired and my back had been killing me for almost a
week. Went to bed not long after supper.
Felt OK when I got up after sleeping 11 hours. Still a bit spacey. Had a choice to make Marc's
stag, but that would put me back more than a day. I loaded up, dropped stuff off at BruceD and
took off. Pretty easy trip to Bangor, except for the fact that something was wrong with my
gearbox. Any though to cruising to N.Y. was now replaced with thoughts of trashing the car. Dib
Calais to Bangor in one gear. Went to the Ground Round for a great supper and slept in the car in
the parking lot. Not a bad day.
Other than the car being weird, it was a very nice day. Just couldn't keep 5th gear, unless I held it
there, and sometimes not even then. And me heading down the I95 for the day. Stopped in
Freeport for 4 hours, spent 4 dollars. Nice to do Bean's slowly, but didn't really need anything I
could afford. Ot oof the I90 aout an hour or so away from Alex's and enjoyed the Rt23 instead.
Very nice weather and lots of good radio during the day.
Got to Craryville, saw all the kids. Jordan looked very good. Not so off the wall. Had some
supper, a few beer, and off to bed. I ended up sleeping 9 hours a night when I was there, mostly
by going to bed betwen 9:00 and 10:00.
The weather is always nice here. Breakfast and coffee. Nice walk with Alex, the kids, and the
dog, down by the lake. We did this every day and those kids made it fun every day. A nice treat.
Pat and the kids drove me to a VW garage in Kinston, about 45 minutes away. The news was
bad, but I convinced them to epoxy the hole in the transmission, and we left the car to heal a bit.
Had lunch in the bearby mall and returned home. Weird not having a car. Not really a day for
swimming, so it was supper, kids, chitchat and bed.
Another great day. It rains, but mostly at night. This one was kind of warm This time Alex and
kids took me to get the car. It worked well and my concerns eased. I went for a small run (hot),
and then took the car down south to the train about an hour or so away to get Regina and the
kids. Big thunderstorm on the way back. Nice to have everyone back. Lots of little stories. They
spent time with Reva, Shoshana and Henya. Got lots of shopping in and looked good. That makes
for 11 people in the house. Dinner is an event. Alex does ribs and corn. What a meal!
Everyone on the walk today. Regina and Pat got to Barrington. Alex, the kids and I do the Mount
Monument hike, 2 hours each way. Nice day for it, and the kids had a blast. Very nice hiking
weather, and we had food and water and lots of frogs and salamanders. The kids have tons of
fitness and that little Dylan is a tyrant with a golden smile. The twins were lots of fun and fast.
Catch frogs like they were standing still. A lot of fun to be with. Of course, Ariel is a teenager.
Teenagers are a lot alike. Alex did the big chicken meal and another fine day slid into the sunset
Today is biking day, and after the obigitory walk by the lake, I head off on that gorgeous Cinelli
for a dya of biking. I have energy, maps,money and attitude. The weather is threateninig a bit, but
holds all day. I roll in 65 miles, stopping in little towns, reading the paper, visiting Tanglewood,
shopping a little, having pizza and generally having a great day. Regina does a big mexican dinner.
That, plus a shower and a few beer makes for another day.
Everyone is taking it easy today. Alex does the big breakfast and we take until noon to get it
done. Today is beach day, and our last day here. We do a bunch of cleaning up and packing. The
beach is nice, the water a treat. Wouldn't have mined being there all day. It was definitely a relax
day. After Newfoundland, I had forgotten about work. After a few days in N.Y., I had forgeotten
about Nfld. My kind of vacation. I didn't get down to see the folks, but I'll see them in October.
We got awya pretty early. Because of the car, and the Labor Day weekend, I tried to stay inland,
and we went north towards Conway. Still way too much traffic. Actually had to head a bit west to
get awya from some tieups. We had trouble booking a room in Bangor on Friday, so our end
destination was known, and getting farther away. We only spent a hour in Conway, eating in a
funky diner. Too bad. Tough driving through new Hampshire, and past Mt. Washinton area. Hope
to take family there for a few days.
It rained coming into Bangor, and I ended up 13 hours on the road. Way too tough.
But we had dinner at the Ground Round, and all was right with the world again. The car was
performing beautifully and and we had a nice place to sleep. The news about Diana was on when
we returned. Very sad.
Nice drive to Calais, stop at the Big Stop. Easy trip through the border, stop at Timmie's and tool
along to lunch at Sackville. Car working well, energy holding out well. One more stop fro
gorceries at Clem's and we are HOME!