Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Checking out new boat tours- Ocean Quest in Gros Morne and Humber River Cruise in Steady Brook

by Keith and Heather Nicol
       “I love my office” grinned Ryan Young above the roar of the motor as we skipped over the small waves of Trout River Pond.  “This southern part of Gros Morne National Park is undiscovered by many people and it is too bad since it is a spectacular area.”  We were doing a new Ocean Quest boat tour (http://www.oceanquestadventures.com/services/tourist/gros-morne-national-park) that has started on Trout River Pond and we had to agree- Trout River Pond is amazing since it is surrounded by steep cliffs 550-600 meters high and it is 15 km long.   At times Ryan would stop the engine and unroll excellent foam props to describe the action of tectonic plates and the structure of the earth to help us understand how the unusual landscape of Trout River Pond came into being. “This area was caused by the collision of tectonic plates millions of years ago and for reasons that are not well understood part of the ocean crust and mantle ended up on top of the land. Subsequent glaciations stripped away rock and carved out this “fjord” and we ended up with one of the best exposures of the earth’s mantle found anywhere in the world. As you can see, plants haven’t adapted very well to this peridotite rock of the earth’s mantle and that is why this area looks more like Arizona than Newfoundland!”  added Ryan. The Tablelands of Gros Morne are truly amazing and their reddish brown colour seems to change minute by minute as the light of the afternoon streaks between the clouds. You can also explore the Tablelands on foot through various hiking trails and you can learn more about the impressive geology of the park at the Park Canada’s Discovery Centre in Woody Point. 
Ryan discussing the earth's structure to explain the unusual geology of the Tablelands
       The lower Humber River is easily the most scenic large river on the Island of Newfoundland and now  a new boat tour can show you the sights. On a sunny Saturday we recently joined Charlie Foote who runs Humber River Cruise for a tour of the lower section of the river. Our group consisted of a couple from Clarenville as well as several other Corner Brook residents and we set off from a small wharf in Steady Brook. Humber River Cruise uses a pontoon type tour boat that can take up to 30 people. The seats are comfortable and the vessel has a cover which keeps you cool on hot days and the water out on rainy days. We steamed up river at first and had great views of the slopes of Marble Mountain ski resort and you could even see the top of Steady Brook Falls above the trees. We stopped at a small beach where Charlie says that they offer BBQ’s on request and on a really hot day you could even go for a quick dip from the sandy beach. The tour then heads downriver through the scenic Humber canyon past Shellbird Island and the Man’s Face in the Mountain. Depending on the tide there are often rapids at Shellbird Island but on the day we took the tour the high tide minimized the turbulence in this section. We turned around at Ballam Bridge and then headed back upstream. This canyon section is interesting with caves carved into the limestone at the water’s edge and the water eddies and swirls since it is contained by the steep rock walls. The tour is about 16 km long and it takes 2 hours to do the tour although custom trips can be arranged. Check out www.humberrivercruise.com for more information. 
Getting ready to tour the lower Humber River

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