I did something amazing to end the year in 2019! Ending 2019 on a natural 5,200 metre high and out of breath in the Andes of Peru – Rainbow Mountain was worth every step! World UNESCO and so impressive in Peru! Happy early New Year everyone!
This was the posting I made on Facebook to share with friends this spectacular experience, as the year 2020 was about to begin. At the top, for just a brief moment, snow fell into the palm of my hand and I felt very connected to my home and those I loved that were so very far away. Peru was on my bucket for quite some time, especially exploring the Sacred Valley of the Incas and the Sanctuary Lodge showcasing pre-Columbian South America’s most advanced civilization at Machu Picchu.
I returned home after my South American tour, little did I know at the time that in March the adventures I had planned to explore distant far off lands would be put on hold for the remainder of 2020. Despite this travel set back, it didn’t stop me from pursuing new goals and new adventures at home, even though I had completed my map of visiting every community in NL in July 2019.
There were so many unknowns about Covid-19, but I began getting some fresh air and began walking in April. Our Great Northern Peninsula winters can last well into May, so it wasn’t always ideal walking around our little community. It took awhile for me to enjoy the morning air and exercise, but it slowly became something I enjoyed while listening to a podcast, music, talking with friends or just taking in the seaside views of my little hometown. As winter melted away and we moved into the early beginnings of summer, I was truly addicted to walking and decided I would explore the walking and hiking trails on the Great Northern Peninsula. I didn’t realize at the time I would find 80 of them in the Northern half of the peninsula. I look forward to sharing posts of the Glass Hole in Conche, The Iceberg Trail en route to L’anse aux Meadows and many other lesser known walks. I slowly realized the island of Newfoundland was a hiker’s dream with so many incredible walking trails scattered across unique topography, including the Grand Concourse, T’Railway and the Holy Grail of hiking in NL – the East Coast Trail!
One of my biggest highlights in 2020 was a mountain I’ve wanted to climb for a long time despite it being so very close to home. On July 19th, 2020, I completed a bucket list item of scaling Gros Morne Summit (806 M) and the second highest peak on the island of Newfoundland.
The morning wasn’t very promising as the fog was as thick as peas soup in Norris Point, so we waited and waited until we felt we couldn’t wait any longer as the trek would be about 8 hours. It was around 11 AM before we left the parking lot and there were some already coming down the mountain as we reached the based and they relayed our fears that there was no view at the top. We made the decision to continue on anyway and hope that in the afternoon the fog would lift. The cloudy weather proved to be very helpful, as it kept us cool while scaling the face of the mountain. I have to admit that this was quite a challenge and the goal always was getting to the next rock, sometimes not that much further than the last. It did get easier after a pile of snacks and getting closer to the top was always motivating. After making it to the summit and taking a few photos, there still wasn’t a lot to be seen in the fog. We continued on to go down the back of the mountain and got to an area where it began to look like we could get some promising photos if the fog would just lift. I decided that my prayers to the weather gods had gone unanswered, so I sent out one to former weatherman and current MP Scott Simms because former Premier Dwight Ball and the MHA for that area at the time always joked that weather was a Federal responsibility. Well, after a short time waiting he didn’t disappoint. There were picture perfect and panoramic views from the top of the glacial formations, deep fjord arms, ponds and other natural beauty that made the hike of nearly 20 KM return that day worth all the effort. I think my legs felt the aftermath of the trek for days, but truly, I want to do it all over again.
Gros Morne Mountain is just pure treasure and definitely one of the top destination hikes in Newfoundland and Labrador. The trailhead begins just 7 KM south of Rocky Harbour on the Viking Trail, Route 430. For more information, visit Parks Canada: Gros Morne Mountain – Gros Morne National Park (pc.gc.ca)
Gros Morne Mountain can be your anchor or gateway to visiting the rest of the Great Northern Peninsula and experiencing, Where the World Came Full Circle a little further north.
Although, I didn’t climb a mountain at the end of 2020, I did lace up my ice skates with my family as we rented the ice at the local arena and realized that 2020 was indeed a different year. One that caused us all to pause, if for some only for a little while, but to re-assess and understand what is truly important. Like 2019, in 2020 I climbed another mountain and look forward to climbing more in 2021. Always set goals, make plans and …
Never Stop Exploring,
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA St. Barbe-L’anse aux Meadows