Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Gros Morne Diaries, part two, or Dances With Foxes

Day two dawned dark and rainy -- not exactly weather that made you grab your walking stick and run out to the hiking trails with glee, though we were grateful for the (again belated) realization while in Fredericton that it might in fact rain while we were in Gros Morne, and that neither of us was equipped clothing-wise for wet weather. Which of course precipitated a shopping jaunt to the mall near our hotel in search of water-proof or at least -resistant jackets.

The rain was rather nasty for a time however, so we loitered and went in search of a late breakfast while waiting for it to die down. Finally it thinned to a misty drizzle and we trekked up to the Western Book Pond trail, a six-seven kilometer hike with a minimum of inclines (we thought we'd take it easy for the first one).

The Western Brook trail leads through a series of marshy lowlands, over which walking is facilitated by a series of boardwalks and punctuated with helpful educational signs identifying the various flora and fauna. Though the walk is almost perfectly flat, it leads toward flat-topped fjords in the distance, sheer-sided cliffs that enclose the long and narrow Western Book Pond.

One forgets the rather brooding beauty marsh and bogland can possess. Haunting, too -- especially when the stunted forests that creep to the edges of the trail at points hide grunting and lowing moose, whose wheezy conversations stopped us short in fascinated silence more than once.

The trail's terminus is at a dock that services a thrice-daily boat trip down to the end of the lake. The rest area there provides an impressive view of the fjords in the distance ...

After our experience of the Western Brook Pond hike, we tried another, smaller trail ... and at that point it was early evening so we headed back to our lodgings. On the way, we had a rather fun little encounter with one of the many red foxes that hang out at the side of the highway. Our guide book commented on the fact that the park's many foxes tend to feed at the side of the road -- why, I'm not certain, other than the fact that many motorists tend to feed them, a practice warned against, as it makes the animals less afraid of traffic -- a potentially lethal trait.

Still, seeing a fox on the side of the road was too great a photo op to pass up ... so upon seeing the little guy, I slowed and pulled over, grabbing the camera and getting ready to exit the car.

As I was doing so, I noticed in the rearview mirror that the fox had perked up upon seeing us stop, and was avidly trotting toward the car. Years and years of warnings about rabid animals kicked in, and I sharply pulled the door shut -- at which our little friend assumed (to my overly sentimental mind) a hurt expression, and lay down on the roadside:

Heartened, I emerged from the car. Our friend didn't run, but also didn't get too familiar ... he skulked around a bit while I snapped pictures, and any time I tentatively moved closer, he backed off -- allaying my rabies fears.

Foxes are so cool!

OK .. more soon!

1 comment:

iFreud said...

What excellent pictures of your adventures, especially of the foxes. I have just moved to the St. John's area to attend a grad program at MUN (guess which one, the name gives it away), and we were thinking of going to Gros Morne next summer. Now thanks to your chronicles, I believe we shall go!

P.S. I have no idea what the cryptic sign meant, but I loved the theories posted.