gros morne 2017

Darren and I headed out to Gros Morne again this year, further building on what we did and learned last year and the year before.

Main River

Sops Arm Loop

Our initial plan was to do a 3 day, 2 night loop (about 110 km) that incorporated riding up the Main River Road, then on to Eagle Mountain Road/Taylor’s Brook Road and back to the start in Sop’s Arm. But that area got socked by snow starting the night before we were to begin and it continued to snow for 48+ hours, with 50 cm falling altogether.  In the image above you can see how far we got (in pink, 13 km one way) on unloaded bikes.

Main R tracks

Lots of fresh snow on the Main River Road.

MR deep snow

Here you can get a sense of just how much snow falls in this area.

Main River bridge

We made it as far as the bridge over the Main River, then turned around and wisely headed over to the Rocky Harbour area where a little less snow had been falling.

Glenburnie to Woody Point

The snow continued to fall on day two so we decided to check out the groomed snowmobile trail from Glenburnie to Woody Point and back and were we ever pleased that we did.  An instant fatbike classic route was born!  The route is 30 km return and it goes up, it goes down and it twists and it turns; and to top it all off, the scenery is fantastic.

GlenB to Woody Pt

We started in Glenburnie and it took two hours to ride the 15 km to Woody Point, where we went into a shop and had a snack before the return ride.

Groomed

Riding groomed snow is such a treat.

Bridge

LOTS of elevation change on this route.

Sally’s Cove

On Day 3 the snow finally stopped falling and the sun eventually came out.  We decided to try another new route near Sally’s Cove, which is on the coastal plains north of Rocky Harbour.  This area typically gets less snowfall and we were hoping to find a new route into Baker’s Brook Pond and then on to Rocky Harbour, but once again the recent snowfall (and the lack of snowmobile traffic early in the day) had us turning around after just 4 km.

 

Sallys Cove

We had hoped to ride into Baker’s Brook Pond and on to Rocky Harbour, about 20 km one way.

Sallys Cove

The area near Sally’s Cove is flat and windswept.

Rocky Harbour Loop

We left Sally’s Cove and headed back to Rocky Harbour, to ride a loop we did two years ago.  This loop has a lot going for it:  you can start right in Rocky Harbour, it gets a lot of snowmobile traffic so any fresh snow will be tracked, the scenery is out of this world, and you can use it to get into Ten Mile Pond and Baker’s Brook Pond.

RH Loop

We started at the hockey arena; the loop as shown here is 20 km.

Start Rocky Hbr

Near the start of this loop.

GM Background

Gros Morne in the background.

Bridge and GM

Rocky Hbr

Looking down on Rocky Harbour.

The Tablelands

Both of us had been on top of The Tablelands before in winter, but on those occasions we were on snowshoes.  This area is very windswept and what snow stays on top often turns into boilerplate and we thought it would make for good riding.

There are a couple of options for getting to the top and what we did on this attempt was to park at the trail head for the Green Gardens hike as this gained us lots of elevation by driving.  As we discovered, there was still lots of elevation to climb to get to the top.

Tablelands

The view of The Tablelands from the road.

Tablelands

This shows you the route we took; the loop was 8 km.

Up Tablelands

Fresh snow and steep inclines had us pushing most of the way up, but given the right snow conditions we believe a fair bit of it could be ridden.

Top Tablelands

Up on top, with Trout River in the background.  We were able to ride in some spots but we failed to find the boilerplate we were hoping for.

Down Tablelands

Coming back down was a scream and had me laughing hysterically!

 

 

 

 

what i did last summer

I spent 3 weeks last summer riding with Scott (of Porcelain Rocket fame) and Tony (with his own kind of fame) all around the island.  Our route consisted of riding the Irish Loop Off Road (clockwise) to Whitbourne, then caught the bus to Port-aux-Basques where we rode the Trailway back to St. John’s, with a side trip to Gros Morne thrown in for good measure.  We covered about 1700 km in total.

I’ve written about the Irish Loop Off Road here and here, and covered The Trailway here, so I won’t write much about them again.  What was new to me was an off road route from Hughes Brook (near Corner Brook) to Glenburnie, which is in the heart of Gros Morne. This route was about 90 km long, had lots of loooong climbs and screaming descents, and is just a wonderful way to get into the Gros Morne area as compared to riding the highway. What was also a first for me was a day trip to Chimney Cove, which begins near Trout River campground. As you will see in the pictures below, Chimney Cove is a special place.

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The Irish Loop Off Road incorporates parts of the East Coast Trail between Witless Bay and LaManche.

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There’s noting easy about lugging a loaded bike up and down the stairs near LaManche bridge.

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We ate a lot of pan-fried cod on this trip.

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Darren joined us on day 2 of the trip.  From Cape Broyle to Trepassey much of the route follows the old railway tracks.

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Kingman’s Cove wharf.

 

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We spent our second night at Chance Cove.

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The beach at Chance Cove.

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Day 4 begins with a hike-a-bike section to pick up a dirt road that runs to Portugal Cove South.

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Scott goes through the tuckamore while Darren goes around it.

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Momma moose and a calf.

 

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On the “road” to Portugal Cove South.

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Camp above St. Vincent’s.

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Waiting for the bus to take us to Port-aux-Basques.

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Port-aux-Basques.

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On the Trailway, shortly after leaving Port-aux-Basques.

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Yes, Tony and I qualify – unfortunately…

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We rode about 100 km the first day on The Trailway and camped here, at St. Fintans River.

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Another 20 km or so past St. Fintans bridge there is a snowmobile warm-up hut.

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Fischells River.

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Getting off the Trailway and riding the beach near St. George’s.

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Karl’s – a great place to stop in Stephenville Crossing.

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Get yourself a couple of Scramblers and a Pepsi while at Karl’s; you’ll thank me.  Or not.

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Camping on the shore of Georges Lake.

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In Corner Brook.

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This is the route from Hughes Brook to Glenburnie.  It is on logging roads and was a great ride.

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Entering Glenburnie.

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On the road to Chimney Cove.

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The outskirts of Chimney Cove.

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Leaving Chimney Cove.

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Celebrating a great day at the Rusty Jigger in Trout River.

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Camp in the Gaff Topsails.

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The high point of the former Newfoundland Railway.

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Gravel pit camping near Bishop’s Falls.

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Vegetarian Surprise – “I thought it said cheddar and broccoli!”

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Crossing the Terra Nova River.

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Bonfires and beers.

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Between Clarenville and Goobies.

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L-R: a Tumbleweed Prospector, a Moots FrosTi, and a Surly Pugsley.

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As seen on the isthmus to the Avalon Peninsula. 

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End of the trip.

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return to point rosie

Darren and I rode to Point Rosie in 2014; later that year Guy and Ruth did it as well.

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I got back to Point Rosie this year, this time with a couple of good friends, John and Nancy.  This was the first bikepacking trip for each of them. Here we are at Frenchman’s Cove Provincial Park.  We drove down the day before and spent the night here.  The park staff let us leave our vehicle in the day use parking area while we did our ride.  This also had the added bonus of access to showers before the trip home!

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John crossing the bridge at the trailhead.

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The town of Garnish in the background.

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One of the bridges was a little bit shorter than the last time I was was here.  No problem – we just took off our shoes and waded across.

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There are lots of short, steep hills to contend with.

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Point Rosie, where we spent the night.  Just before entering the community there is a small stream where you can get water.

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Noodling around on the beach.

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On the way home.

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irish loop off road (ILOR)

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400 km, 5 days and 4 nights. Green triangles indicate where I camped.

Over the May 24th long weekend I tackled the route I’ve been calling “Irish Loop Off Road” or ILOR.  If anybody has a better name let me know (Paul C?).  Amy, Paul and I first tackled this route two years ago, that time riding it in a counter-clockwise direction and learning what worked and what didn’t.  This iteration of the route is much better.

This ride has it all:  80% of it is on dirt, the majority of the paved sections are on quiet roads; single track, dirt roads, ATV tracks, 2 hike-a-bike sections; great vistas; wildlife (I saw caribou, moose and a snowy owl on this trip); resupply is easy; free camping; water is easily available.

I now have GPX files for this route – if you would like them just drop me an email:  theslowbiker at gmail.com.

gros morne fatbike 2016

Easter fell during a prime time for fatbiking Gros Morne this year, so Darren and I made plans to go there for the week.  We had a short, preliminary exploration of the park last year and knew that there was lots more we wanted to ride.  We weren’t disappointed…

Our Good Friday feast. At the junction of the Trans-Canada highway and Route 420 is White Bay Convenience. The food is fantastic - we had supper, breakfast and lunch there.

Our Good Friday feast. At the junction of the Trans-Canada highway and Route 420 is White Bay Convenience. The food is fantastic – we had supper, breakfast and lunch there.

 

Western Brook Pond

Day 1

 

Here's the route we took. (Darren McD image)

Here’s the route we took. Taylor’s Brook Road begins on Route 420. Drive in 3 kilometers and you will find Taylor’s Brook Accommodations. Ask for Terry – he will set you up with a place to park for a small fee (we paid $15 for 3 days, two nights). He will also have LOADS of knowledge about trail conditions. Pick his brain. (Darren McD image)

Here's the route with elevation. (Darren McD image)

Here’s the route with elevation.
(Darren McD image)

Darren and I at the start.

Darren and I at the start.

Looking west, on Taylors Brook Road.

Looking west, on Taylors Brook Road. The first 24 km are groomed. At Km 24 our route took a left off the groomed stuff and our real work began.

PR take 2

 

This is the view looking west. That is Matty's Pond in the left of the picture. The arrow shows the cove we camped in.

This is the view looking west. That is Matty’s Pond in the left of the picture, where we made camp.

On Matty's Pond.

On Matty’s Pond.

Stats from our first day.

Stats from our first day. We began at 10 AM and stopped at 5 PM. Elevation gained, fully packed bikes and loose trail for the final 16 km kept average speed low.

Running water was scarce; luckily I found these ice fishing holes near our camp. Unfortunately, they were frozen over the next morning.

Running water was scarce; luckily I found these ice fishing holes near our camp. Unfortunately, they were frozen over the next morning.

Day 2

It went down to -18C our first night and -15C our second.

It went down to -18C our first night and -15C our second.

Our camp on Matty's Pond.

Our camp on Matty’s Pond.

The start of Day 2. Blue sky and no wind.

The start of Day 2. Blue sky and no wind.

The riding was fantastic.

The riding was fantastic.

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Mountain take 2

 

Click on the image above to enlarge it, then look for Darren on the ridge line to get perspective on the vastness we were riding in.

Click on the image above to enlarge it, then look for Darren on the ridge line to get perspective on the vastness we were riding in.

We did it!

We did it!

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Everyone wants their photo taken at The Gorge.

Everyone wants their photo taken at The Gorge.

Parks Canada staff were checking for park passes. Yes, we had ours.

Parks Canada staff were checking for park passes. Yes, we had ours.

Leaving The Gorge.

Leaving The Gorge.

We stopped to watch the sledders high-pointing.

We stopped to watch the sledders high-pointing.

A friendly snowmobiler offered me a beer.

A friendly snowmobiler offered me a beer.

Stats for the trip from our camp to Western Brook Pond look off and back. Check out that max speed!

Stats for the trip from our camp to Western Brook Pond look off and back. Check out that max speed!

Day 3

The descent down onto Matty's Pond was a scream; the climb back up, not so much...

The descent down onto Matty’s Pond was a scream; the climb back up, not so much…

Snowmobilers were always courteous and encouraging. (Jeff Spurrell photo)

Snowmobilers were always courteous and encouraging. We were loosing elevation on the way out and the trails were firmer, so it only took 4 hours to reach the car versus 7 hours to get in. (Jeff Spurrell photo)

Wigwam Pond

The weather was lousy all day Tuesday but we did manage to get in a night ride on the Wigwam Pond trail.

The weather was lousy all day Tuesday but we did manage to get in a night ride on the Wigwam Pond trail.

Ten Mile Pond

Ten Mile Pond sits at the base of Gros Morne; anyone who has climbed to the summit has looked down onto this pond.  We went looking for the chance to be on the pond looking up at the summit.

Logistically, this is an easy ride.  Park at the Gros Morne Visitors Centre in Rocky Harbour.  Ride up to Route 430 and across the road you will see a road that leads to Eastern Arm Pond.  Follow the snowmobile tracks.

 

Heading in to Eastern Arm Pond. That is Gros Morne to the right.

Heading in to Eastern Arm Pond. That is Gros Morne to the right.

On Eastern Arm Pond.

On Eastern Arm Pond.

After crossing Eastern Arm Pond the trail twists and turns through a small forest.

After crossing Eastern Arm Pond the trail twists and turns through a small forest.

A river, a forest, mountains and a twisty-turny snowmobile track to follow; fatbiking doesn't get any better than this.

A river, a forest, mountains and a twisty-turny snowmobile track to follow; fatbiking doesn’t get any better than this.

Careful where you step, though...

Careful where you step, though…

(a Darren McD photo)

(a Darren McD photo)

The entrance to Ten Mile Pond. (a Darren McD photo)

The entrance to Ten Mile Pond.
(a Darren McD photo)

Ten Mile Pond with Gros Morne in the background. (a Darren McD photo)

Ten Mile Pond with Gros Morne in the background.
(a Darren McD photo)

(a Darren McD photo)

Click to enlarge for the full perspective. (a Darren McD photo)

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At the end of Ten Mile Pond.

At the end of Ten Mile Pond.

Returning from Ten Mile Pond with The Tablelands in the distance.

Returning from Ten Mile Pond with The Tablelands in the distance.

Stats for our ride into Ten Mile Pond and back.

Stats for our ride into Ten Mile Pond and back.

Tablelands / Trout River

This was our view of The Tablelands. Visibility was poor so we didn't venture up there.

This was our view of The Tablelands. Visibility was poor so we didn’t venture up there.

The postmaster came out to ask if we were the fellows who biked to The Gorge. She had heard the piece on the radio and seen our picture on Facebook.

The postmaster came out to ask if we were the fellows who biked to The Gorge. She had heard the piece on the radio and seen our picture on Facebook.

Link to the radio interview on CBC Corner Brook: click here.

The beach at Trout River.

The beach at Trout River.

The bumper sticker says it best.

The bumper sticker says it best.

Thank you:

  • Tim C for use of your GPS and your local knowledge
  • Darroch W for letting us stay at your house while we were in Rocky Harbour

western brook pond

imageI’ve got limited internet/computer access but I just wanted to post that Darren and I made it to Western Brook Pond (aka “The Gorge”) in Gros Morne National Park. Three days, two nights and 110 km total. I’ll update the blog with more pictures and details when I can.

winter s24o

S24O = sub-24 hour overnighter.  The idea – get out for a quick trip – adventure doesn’t always have to be epic.

The plan was for us to head inland, to camp in the barrens.  But nature had other ideas; it warmed up considerably on Saturday and our planned route was mud.  So we headed toward the ocean, down the ever trusty Shoal Bay Road, where the woods keep the trail snow covered for longer.

My Pivot Les Fat, ready for action.  On the bars I have my full winter sleeping kit:  a Hilleberg Soulo tent, a -12C Western Mountaineering sleeping bag, a blue foamie and a Thermorest NeoAir sleeping pad.

My Pivot Les Fat, ready for action. On the bars I have my full winter sleeping kit: a Hilleberg Soulo tent, a -12C Western Mountaineering sleeping bag, a blue foamie and a Thermorest NeoAir sleeping pad.

The three bikes ready to roll.

The three bikes ready to roll.

What's a little bikepacking without a little hike-a-bike?

What’s a little bikepacking without a little hike-a-bike?

Our camping spot.

Our camping spot.

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Tim.

Tim.

Darren.

Darren.

This was a little dry run for Darren and I before we head to Gros Morne next week.  Stay tuned.