Clints and grikes

Clints and grike

Clints and grike

We’ve walked on more interesting trails in Newfoundland than I can count, and those are a tiny fraction of the possibilities. Many are in National or Provincial Parks; some are on private land or Crown Land. Since 95% of Newfoundland and Labrador is provincial Crown Land, there’s a lot to explore.

Some of the trails have been developed by small towns, including outport communities. For example, Flower’s Cove on the Great Northern Peninsula has the White Rocks Walking Trail. This wanders across a limestone barrens, where I learned firsthand about clints and grikes.

Limestone barrens

Limestone barrens

Limestone barrens are odd, unforested areas with what appear as large, limestone paving stones, mortared with mosses, small conifers, wildflowers, and other flora. These are unique ecosystems with extremes hot and cold, plus cycles of drought and flooding and frost. They represent less than 1% of the total area of the island, but host 10% of the rare plants.

The limestone pavement of the barrens is a type of karst landform. These formations have blocks, called clints, separated by deep vertical fissures known as grikes. Karst is derived from the Slovenian word kras, meaning a bleak, waterless place.

Solied pants

Solied pants

From experience, I strongly advise you to be careful, stepping only on the clints. This advice is not always easy to follow, since plants grow up through the grikes and often spill over onto the clints. Thus it’s possible to step on what seems to be a thin layer of green on the clint and find your foot going deep into a grike.

This happened to me near the end of a walk. My left foot sank down nearly up to the knee. I the fell forward hitting both knees on the clint. I was just lucky that I hadn’t caught the foot more, or I might have had a twisted ankle or even a broken foot, possibly one wedged into the grike. Since I was walking alone at the time, I might have come to understand truly what Slovenians mean by kras.

Instead, I suffered no worse than embarrassment and soiled pants.

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