On the morning of June 23, IATNL members Ulrica Murley Pye, Sharon MacDonald Lahey, Delano Pittman and Paul Wylezol set off up Winterhouse Gulch on the northeast side of the Tablelands in Gros Morne National Park on a mission to identify and gps track the route for Stage One of the 4-stage UltramaTrex, a 7-9 day trek across the ultramafic sections of the four Bay of Islands Ophiolite Massifs.
The first half-hour of the trek was on a well-trodden park trail that begins at the parking lot just off Route 431 above the town of Woody Point. Before long hikers reach a stretch of boardwalk that winds its way up to a viewing platform, from which the more adventurous must make their own way up along the small stream that flows through the gulch.
In addition to the unusual metamorphic rocks composed largely of peridotite from the earth’s mantle, the floor of the gulch is composed of hardy wildflowers that must be tougher than they look to survive in this highly alkaline landscape. The surrounding canyon walls are steep in places and devoid of vegetation, making them prone to eroding scree fields.
Higher up in the gulch the stream cascades over large boulders, with melting snowfields providing much of the crystal clear water. From there hikers get their first view of Bonne Bay and the Long Range Mountains surrounding the “Gros Morne”.
The sweeping vista on top includes a rust-colored peridotite plateau stretching in every direction. Turning west, the rock strewn landscape soon transforms into a grassy plain dotted with small wetland pools that are easy to maneuver around.
For more on the story, go to the IATNL website.