Has it already been six years since I was on the Long Range Traverse? Memories are so vivid that it feels like just last summer. Standing at the back of Western Brook Fjord feeling so small, watching the sunrise over the bog, walking with the caribou, it was a very special trek.
It was special because this was my first multiday, backcountry hiking expedition. I have overnighted up in the Blow Me Downs, been on multiday sea kayak expeditions, winter camped, and more but this was a first of many backcountry hikes. Algonquin Colleges Outdoor Adventure Tourism program set me up to feel really confident in my skills as well as having the chance to trek with an experienced backcountry hiker, there was no stopping me!
Day 1 - Into Gros Morne National Park
It was June 26th and we drove up from Corner Brook to the Visitor’s Centre to test our navigation skills, leave our route plan and pick up our transceiver. We had to hitch hike from the Visitor’s Centre to Shallow Bay Campground as there is no shuttle within the park. We camped overnight at Shallow Bay, walking the beach and enjoying the sunset and rainbows.
Day 2 - Western Brook Pond to Little Island Pond
The next morning, we hitchhiked to Western Brook Pond. We hiked into catch the 1pm boat to be dropped off at the back of the fjord to start the trek. The first time you do the Western Brook Pond boat tour is astounding!
As we were preparing to get off the boat, the park interpreter got on the microphone and wished us a great hike as he explained to the crowd what we where about too do. A few people were concerned for us (you know "two girls alone in the wilderness") and others wanted to come along. The boat left the dock and they all cheered - Alex and I both blushed, feeling like celebrities.
We hiked up the back of the fjord, around huge boulders, through ferns and forest, until we reached the waterfall. Scaling up the right side of the waterfall brought us to the top of the gulch by about 6pm. What a view! This is the place everyone wants to see when they come to Newfoundland, so if you make it here, be sure to sit and take it all in.
We camped at Little Island Pond, discussing the climb and cooking up a feed. Needless to say, we both slept soundly that night!
Total Distance: 6 km Total Hiking Time: 5 hours
Day 3 - Little Island Pond to Green Island Pond
Up early, we got to watch the sunrise over the Long Range Mountains while we sipped hot coffee. By 9am we were on the move with a bearing for Hardings Pond which required us to trek through bogs, around ponds and really pay attention to our geographic position - otherwise it was easy to become “geographically misplaced” if you know what I mean;)
Hardings Pond is where the rangers cabin is and the pond had a nice beach for a picnic. After lunch we shot our bearing to Green Island Pond and headed off. We got distracted by a large snow patch and before long were geographically misplaced! We hiked up to some high ground to triangulate our position and thankfully we could see Gros Morne mountain and the Rocky Harbour hills. Getting to Green Island Pond was a struggle! Our route took us on the lee ward side of a hill where the tuckamore was tangly, twisted and pretty much impassable. We spend about 2 hours trying to go 500 metres!! It was 8:30pm by the time we reached the campsite - exhausted but happy!
Total Distance: 19.5 km Total Hiking Time: 11 hours
Day 4 - Green Island Pond to James Callaghan Trailhead
We woke up to drizzle and had breakfast inside the tent. By 8:30am we were packed up and the showers had dissipated. Crossing the brook, we followed our bearing towards Gros Morne Mountain. Along the way, we came upon three caribou who watched us intently. Caribou are Alex’s favourite animal so we decided to have a snack and photo break to watch them graze.
Approaching 10 Mile Pond and Gros Morne Mountain was amazing! It rivals the view of Western Brook Pond but feels even more rewarding after three days of trekking. Seeing this view made the trip for me.
We found the route down into Ferry Gulch (which was super steep) and meandered our way down, past Gros Morne Mountain to the highway. It was just 3:30pm as we hit the parking lot. We were lucky again to grab a ride back to the visitors centre where we returned our transceiver and waited for our pick up.
Total Distance: 9.5 km Total Hiking Time: 7 hours
The Long Range Traverse is definitly a must do trek as it takes you deep into the pristine backcountry of Gros Morne National Park and provides some of the best views in the whole park.
Here are my top 3 resources to get you started planning your Long Range Traverse:
3 - Go guided! Check out Gros Morne Adventures