Blow Me Down

Towards Lark Harbour

Towards Lark Harbour

Trail through forest

Trail through forest

Trail through open area

Trail through open area

When, in the middle of August, you need to light up the wood stove to warm your feet, there’s snow at 2000 feet, and an iceberg floats by your cabin window, you know that you’re in an unusual place.

A close encounter with a caribou on a hiking trail, meeting a traditional carver of stone and bone, and eating cod caught a few hours earlier by the restaurant owner’s two young sons add to the pleasant surprises. But the most remarkable thing about Newfoundland are the stories.

Serpentinite

Serpentinite

Every local we meet seems to have a trove of stories, freely mixing what some Viking did a thousand years ago with what they ate for breakfast. And every place, remarkable though it may be on its own terms, comes packaged with intertwined history, myths, and legends,

Beyond the island in front of our lodging in York Harbour was the Blow Me Down Mountain (650 m). Its name comes from the story in which Captain Messervey in 1771 anchored his boat below the range and said “I hope they don’t blow me down!” To this day it’s famous for its powerful winds that blow in every direction at once. It’s also known as an amphitheater that amplifies the sound of thunder. I heard stories of walkers fleeing in terror when Thor seemed to go on a rampage.

Blow Me Down mountain

Blow Me Down mountain

Stairway in a cave

Stairway in a cave

There have been at least 17 communities that share the odd name of Blow Me Down, not to mention mountains, mountain ranges, parks, and other geographical objects.

We took a walk through Blow Me Down Provincial Park nearby, which generated some personal stories to add to the corpus. The trail was beautiful, but a bit of a workout, because of the mud and running water from a recent storm. My activity tracker thought it was more than 100 floors up.

Newfoundland diary: Bottle Cove

York Harbour

York Harbour

I had intended to write a Newfoundland diary, but the onslaught of beautiful rocky coasts, wildflowers and butterflies, fragrant forests of balsam fir, moose and caribou, seabirds, icebergs, quaint fishing villages, lighthouses, Paleoeskimo archeology, world renowned geological sites, challenging hikes with gorgeous views, tundra, friendly people, widely divergent regional dialects, and more has distracted me.

This is beginning to look more like a five-day report, maybe a quinquery? Even now, I feel that I’m just highlighting a few of many rich experiences.

Bottle Cove

Bottle Cove

It wasn’t just the overload of rich experiences. The problem began on the first full day. We had arranged to stay in a cabin in York Harbour, on the central west coast, not far from Corner Brook. The cabin was on the seacoast, with a view of mountains and islands. That would have been difficulty enough.

However, the next day we ventured to Bottle Cove. It’s a fishing village with a population of just 10 people, but deservedly has its own Wikipedia entry. Two of those ten were very good friends who welcomed us with treats, including cheeses and homemade beer.

Trail's End, named by Captain Cook

Trail’s End, named by Captain Cook

The cove is aptly named, given its narrow mouth, but apparently it’s actually an Anglicization of the French bateau, from its days as a French fishing village.

The surrounding terrain is part of the Appalachian Mountains. That’s the justification for including the trails in the area in the International Appalachian Trail system.

We had a beautiful walk to the headland named Trail’s End by Captain Cook, when he first explored the area. The trails are suffused with wildflowers, beautiful mushrooms, and interesting rock formations.

The rocks are mostly ophiolites, meaning they came from the oceanic crust and the upper mantle of ancient seas.  They were uplifted and exposed above sea level, often on top of shale and other continental crustal rocks. A prevalent and striking example are the green serpentinites. We saw them in walks around Bottle Cove and also at the nearby Cedar Cove, another beautiful, but quite different formation.

View from the headland

View from the headland

After a day in the Bottle Cove area I was in a mixed state, exhilarated from the beauty and good experiences, but depressed by the thought that everything to come would be a let-down.