My name is Mark Goodfield and I am a tax partner and the managing partner of Cunningham LLP in Toronto. This blog is about income tax, business, the psychology of money and investing topics and is meant for taxpayers no matter their income bracket, but in particular for high net worth individuals and entrepreneurs who own private corporations. I also blog about whatever else crosses my mind; I have to entertain myself. This is my personal blog and the views and opinions expressed in this blog do not reflect the position of Cunningham LLP. I am blunt and opinionated (at least for a Chartered Professional Accountant). You've been warned.

The blogs posted on The Blunt Bean Counter provide information of a general nature and should not be considered specific advice, as each reader's personal financial situation is unique and fact specific. Please contact a professional advisor prior to implementing or acting upon any of the information contained in one of the blogs.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gros Morne National Park - Part 2

On Monday, I recounted the first four days of my trip to Gros Morne National Park this summer. Today, I conclude with a summary of days five through eight.
 

Day 5


Lucky for us, it was a sunny beautiful day, with little wind for our hike to the top of Gros Morne Mountain. We had heard this hike could take anywhere from 6 to 10 hours and was considered very strenuous. Before we began our hike, we went to the Visitor Centre in Norris Point, where a helpful Parks Canada employee provided some clarification about the 16 km hike on the James Callaghan Trail. We were told the climb would start off with a fairly easy 1.5 hour
Such a pleasant warning
walk from the parking lot to the base. Next we would have a very hard 1.5 to 2 hour steep climb over broken rocks (shale and granite) called scree. Once we reached the top; we would then have a 3 to 4 hour trip back down. 

There was a more casual hike that wrapped around the mountain, but we selected the first option. In retrospect we were glad we took the direct route, as the alleged casual walk is not that casual in my opinion. It's full of rocks which are very hard on your feet. That is not to say the hike up the front of the mountain is a day at the beach. However, everyone we met hiking the direct route said they were glad they took the tougher steep climb than going up and down the casual route due to rocky gulches.

The walk to the base of the mountain was exactly as the park employee described. It is fairly easy and much of it was through forest which we appreciated as it blocked the sun. For us, the hike to the base took about 1hr and 15 minutes. The steep climb is as advertised. It is a very steep climb over broken rocks that never seemed to end. It felt like the mountain continually teased you as you thought you were done, only to find out you had more to go. The views going up are very nice, but the way up is not necessarily the greatest place to appreciate them and nothing compared to the views at the top of the mountain. 
Climbing the face of Gros Morne Mountain
We reached the top in 3 hours from our start off position in the parking lot. We were very tired. We had packed a lunch and our reward for reaching the top was to eat while taking in the awesome views afforded to us by being 800 meters high. Our decent was down the back of the mountain. The views of the fjords are unbelievable. The walk down is worse than the walk up as the rocks just pound your feet. People with hiking shoes were complaining so you can imagine how those hikers wearing runners felt. (We wore our hiking shoes on all the trails and were pleased we did.) Our only disappointment on this trail was that given the top of the mountain is considered an Arctic environment, the only animal we saw on our hike were Rock Ptarmigan chicks.

View from the top of Gros Morne Mountain
In total, our hike took 7 hours, which included probably just over a half an hour for lunch and picture breaks. My wife found the climb up very challenging. 

We rewarded ourselves with dinner at Chanterelles, the Sugar Hill’s fine dining restaurant. The highlight was an awesome cod wrapped in prosciutto with smoked coulis sauce sitting on a scallion shrimp rosti and lemon tart for dessert. As you have no doubt noticed, my wife and I enjoy our food.

Day 6


The weather gods decided they had provided the Goodfield’s with enough sunshine and the weather returned to rainy and misty. However, since we wanted a lazy day to recover from our Gros Morne hike, we did not really mind the rain. We purchased curry tuna sandwiches from Sugar Hill and took a leisurely drive of 25km or so past Cow Head to Parsons Pond to the Arches Provincial Park to view the arched rocks formed by sea wave erosion. The arches were interesting, but compared to what we had seen in the previous days, they dulled in comparison.

We then drove to Shallow Bay Beach which is a nice long sandy beach – unusual for Newfoundland. Unfortunately upon our arrival, the rain intensified and we had to leave. We went back to Western Brooke and drove slow to look for moose and caribou but had no success. We headed back to the Inn to rest up for what everyone told us was a must see show by the Anchors Aweigh band, at the Ocean View Hotel in Rocky Harbour.
Norris Point

Before the show we grabbed another dinner at Justin Thyme Bean & Bistro. I had chili scallops and a steak with onions and mushrooms that were excellent. My wife had a spinach salad with blue cheese and a hazelnut orange citrus dressing and salmon with black plums and apricot, both of which she thoroughly enjoyed.

The show exceeded my expectations. I would urge anyone visiting the Gros Morne area to check out the band. Please note you must reserve your seats if you have any hope of getting in. The show lasted almost 3 ½ hours and I was sad to see it end. The band is extremely entertaining. They are funny, great story tellers and excellent musicians. They play mostly local music but mix in a bit of everything else. The show was also surprisingly educational as the band provides a historical trip through Newfoundland both in their music and their banter. You really gain an appreciation of the pride Newfoundlanders have in their province and how they appreciate the tourists who come. I reiterate, a must see.

Day 7


Here’s a surprise, it was foggy and rainy again, only on this day you could cut the fog with a knife. Our intentions were to hike the Green Gardens, which is a very highly recommended trail in Woody Point. When we arrived at the trail we could not see five feet in front of us and debated whether it was worth hiking since we had almost no visibility. But as we had nothing else to do, we went for it. This trail takes you
Green Gardens Coastline
down to cliffs above a beach. We truly wondered about our intelligence as we could see absolutely nothing. About half way down the hill to the beach, the fog began to lift and our visibility began to improve. We could not see anything in the distance, but we could see immediately in front of us. After an hour or so down the hill, we arrived on flat land, which is essentially the land above the cliffs overlooking the beach. To our surprise, we were able to observe some awesome cliffs and coastline sites. I would recommend this hike, especially on a nice day. The hike back up was somewhat tiring and it took us three hours in total going up and down – not an easy hike.

We then went into Woody Point for lunch and had lobster sandwiches at the Galliott Studios, a store, gallery and restaurant (essentially the only item on the menu are lobster sandwiches). The studio has excellent coffee and lattes. While waiting for lunch, a whale swam by a boat docked at the studio giving it a good shove. Unfortunately, we did not see the whale, only the evidence of the rocking boat.
 

Day 8


Guess what? It was raining heavily again. Our best investment turned out to be North Face waterproof windbreakers we had purchased at Sporting Life earlier that summer. I cannot say enough about how our windbreakers kept us warm cut the wind. 

We were flying home later that day so we decided we would go back to the Tablelands for a 10:00 guided tour that is provided free of charge each day. The park representative was just outstanding
Tablelands in the fog
and tied together the visual surroundings with the geological history. The Tablelands are the result of the collision of the two ancient continents, that I discussed on Monday, but in this case, the way they collided caused the floor of the ocean to rise above the earth’s crust. Very little plant life grows or survives because of the heavy metal concentration in the earth, you are truly walking on the bottom of the ocean. 

If we did it again, we would take this tour at the beginning of the trip to gain a greater understanding of the geology we saw throughout the week. 

For lunch we went to Trout Lake and ate at the Seaside restaurant. The restaurant came highly recommended. We had soup and cod and it was very good, however, the restaurant is not cheap for lunch. 

Summary


Although the weather could have been better at times, my wife and I loved Gros Morne; but doing it as a pure hiking trip is not for everyone. The geology and beauty of the area are second to none and the people are friendly. I would definitely recommend visiting the Gros Morne area, particularly Norris Point, Woody Point and Rocky Harbour, for at least two to three days if you are travelling around the province.

P.S. If you are a hiker, here is a detailed list of some of the top hikes in Gros Morne.