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Nick & Tim’s Travel Diary

Monday, 15 Sep 2003

Location: Deer Lake, Canada

Map9300 km
We're on the home stretch now - soon we are going to run out of country and either get floats or call it a day. But the home stretch is so different and beautiful again, Newfoundland, a big rock of an island on the East of Canada. Dramatic weather making for some dramatic scenery.
We had to get a ferry of course to get here, which was a nice six hour journey North on the sea. We met Andy and The Fonze - two truckers who new the ferry well. The Fonze was Acadian French and was apparently born in the 1700's. Pretty good going for a guy who smoked. We also met Margaret and Bob. Margaret is riding across Newfoundland and Bob is supporting her in their car. A nice couple who have plenty of stories to tell from when they sailed around Newfoundland. We offered to ride the first leg of the journey with Margaret and show her the Trans Canada Trail, which we think she appreciated with the fantastic beaches and cliffs immediately visible on trail. After the six hour ferry ride however we didn't go to far. Just to the JT Cheeseman provincial park for camping.
Next day was a tough but worthwhile. We set off along the trail again in front of some incredible cliffs and mountains. They had been so battered by the wind that only the really tough rock remained, with narly little trees all around. The place was in fact called Wreckhouse as the wind between the cliffs often reaches over 200km/h and turns over trains and trucks. Thankfully only a gusty gale for us on that day. Unfortunately for us the weather turned against us and it started to rain and get very cold. We were warned Newfoundland weather was some of the worst. So we soldiered on. The trail then decided to go bad on us too, mostly becoming a track of loose stone, rail ballast - not much fun to ride on. We were also warned of this so kept on. Then we got to a bridge that was out. Really badly out, in the rain, we had to unload our bikes and climb up the section of bridge which hadn't collapsed. Fortunately our Indianna Jones hats were on, and we actually found these challanges kind of fun. And once you're wet you're wet. We had lunch that day in someone's shed. The convenience store we came across for lunch had only potato chips and pepsi on offer and no seating, so the owner kindly let us eat in their shed. It was quite a shed too, with stuffed parrots and decorations all through it. AFter luch there was more bridges out and rough trail. Lots of fun. The trail took us through nice forest and over rivers. By the end of the day, the rough ride took its toll however, with the bolt holding Nick's front wheel on coming loose. Don't worry folks, he spotted it before it got quite ugly. But it did mean camping in a field by a river for the night and thinking about the problem (bolt being lost for good). Next morning, it was decided to use the bolt on Nick's seat post for the front wheel and Nick to ride seatless to the next town. Unbelievably this was successful and we managed to find a bolt there.
The mornings ride was along more rough trail with some scary trestles again to cross. The ones that were collapsed meant river crossings and the ones that weren't meant scary walks over rotting beams. Some of those babies made some real creaking noises at great heights. Fun.
Successfully managing to cross all the bridges without getting our feet wet, we unfortunately came across a massive washout that there was no getting around. Nick bit the bullet and waded through. Tim attempted to wrap his feet in garbage bags. This was possibly the most unsuccessful thing he ever has done.
Since we left we've faced some dangers, bears, smakes, never ending prairies, politico parties, racoons, Mike and Pete (just kidding guys!) but none so scary as our final danger - the hunter. That's right its moose hunting season as of September 13, and we've been advised by everyone from the tourist office lady to locals on the street to wear bright orange. Bloody hell. We met our first hunter on that day of bridges and washouts. He was dressed in camouflage and had a crossbow. He was on his ATV and wanted to know if we'd seen an injured moose. No we said, and what exactly should we do if we see a really pissed off moose with an arrow in his side?
We ran into Bob and Margaret and Stephenville Crossing, had a chat and then headed back into the wilderness and camped by the side of a very nice river. That night the temperature plummeted and we woke to find ice in our water bottles. We also realised that we are glad to be finishing soon as our feet were a little icy that night too!
Our aim for this day was to ride to Corner Brook and go to a bike shop for new bolt for Nick and repairs for Tim's rear hub that started playing up after the Nova Scotia rain. The ride to Corner Brook (big West coast city of NEwfoundland) was unexpectedly nice, past a massive lake and then through some shear mountains. The ride to the bike store was not so nice, the old address that was in the guidebook being at the top of a nasty hill, and the place it had moved to, being even higher! The guys there did a fine job however and we were on our way again to Pasadena to camp. This time along the road as the trail dissapears for a while.
From Pasadena we rode to Deer Lake, which is where we took a very big detour to go to Gros Morne National park. Nestled on the West coast of Newfoundland, it has some spectacular fjiords and "ponds" as they call them here. Unfortunatley the road ride to there was not so pleasant, with incredible head winds and hills worse than the Cabot trail. Nick has another lose it. We eventually got to Rocky Harbour, a nice little town in the park to camp. From here we decided it was time for a day off, and that we were going to hitch to the hi-lite of the park, Western Brook Pond.
So, next morning, we head into town and ask at the motel if anyone is going out there. Turns out there is a car of four going out. Don, Trish, Dick and Dorothy very kindly let us sit squashed into there front passenger seat for 30km. Very kind indeed. They are in the medical field and are up doing good work for the people of remote Newfoundland. They also put some cream on Nick's blackfly bite! True champions
So we get to Western Brook Pond. This was no pond. Its a massive fjord that is in fact not a fjord as it has been cut off from the sea. The only way to see it (well you can do a big hike, but we didn't have the time or shoes) is to get a boat along it. So we did. The shear walls and water were spectacular, see the photos, it was very amazing.
Now would you believe that we knew four people on that boat? First two people we met cycling in Ontario! Then we also met Dean and Karen - the ones stalking us that we mentioned in the last update! Okay, so they're not stalking us, we just keep running into them though. They were kind enough to drive us back to our campsite and also show us the location of a good bakery that does moose burgers.
This morning we rode back to Deer Lake, no headwind this time, but still the hills. Very scenic however. Tonight its back on trail for the run to St Johns.