Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Glorious Gros Morne: Musings on Newfoundland, Part 3

Sitting on the beach at Green Gardens, Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland

"Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart 
give yourself to it."~Buddha

After a six hour drive across the top of Newfoundland we made it to Gros Morne National Park. It had a topography unlike anywhere else I had traveled in Newfoundland. Large cliffs rose almost vertically out of the grey waters, the wind continued to blow me about and of course I loved every minute of it.

Flags at Lobster Cove Head in Gros Morne National Park

The eastern portion of Newfoundland had a different feel to it and possessed different landscapes than we had encountered previously. Here in Gros Morne the land rose up to meet you, it had trails that beckoned you to follow them, and we followed many of them. 

Looking out across Bonne Bay Towards Lookout Hills

Sitting for a moment at Lobster Cove Head

Gros Morne is a geologist's paradise. There are all sorts of rare rock formations there, some found nowhere else on earth. 
We were giddy to explore the park and stayed a total of five days in the park hiking and taking it all in. The weather held up very well for us. The wind of course was ever-present but we had a lovely, moody grey atmosphere for most of our time there, which suited me fine. The mood in and around Gros Morne seemed almost primordial to me...like nature had shrouded the land in secrets, good secrets, secrets that when discovered opened up my eyes to this wild corner of Canada that is simply, Newfoundland.

There was a small trail that wound around Lobster Cove Head where we found an assortment of unique rock formations and these beautifully coloured fronds of kelp and other marine vegetation.

On our way to Green Gardens across the park. This is the little village of Shoal Brook

I loved seeing the far off hills that seemed to be propping up the clouds

For one of our longer hikes we headed to the south side of the park to Green Gardens. The hike is about 16 km in a loop but there had been some flooding so it was impossible to do the entire loop. Thus we went as far as we could and then doubled back. The wind!!! We were almost parallel to the ground as we fought our way across the bleak landscape towards the refuge of the valleys in front of us. It was such a gale in fact that we debated doing the hike...it was then that we saw some other intrepid hikers donning their gear and starting the hike that we thought..."If they can do it...so can we!" There were not many people around which was nice...we basically had the whole trail to ourselves except for the intrepid hikers in front of us and some lovely people from the Gaspé area that we met on the beach. The picture below doesn't capture it well but the winds were the fiercest I had ever encountered. I had to tie my gear to myself lest it and I both be blown down the mountain.

Soon our car was a tiny dot as we ascended the trail.

The sun emerged as the clouds dissipated and the view was marvelous

The hiking was great. Lots of mud and fun slipping around whilst grabbing onto trees for stability. We really did not know what to expect ahead of us as we weaved our way through the trees and spongy earth underneath our feet. And then, suddenly...there was the water through a break in the trees.
This scene reminded me of Cornwall in England...lots of craggy beauty and clear blue water.

This is a tuckamore...they are spruce trees that have a stunted growth habit as a result of constantly being sprayed with salt water from the ocean. 

We couldn't wait to get down to the water and walk around the beach. All the while during my time in Newfoundland I was trying to do a few things: enjoy the experience unfettered by any expectations of what I would paint following the journey, seek interesting reference for paintings and to simply interact as authentically as possible with this exquisite coastal province.

I tried to assuage any feelings of expectation within myself to do only portraits of people. Instead, I approached people when I found them but I simply took every day as it came...if I met people, wonderful. If not, that was fine. You can paint a portrait of a landscape. It has just as much character and just as many stories to tell as any lines on a person's face. Every painting is a portrait when you think about it. A mountain has just as many expressions as a loved one's face...its just a matter of looking at it differently and removing preconceived notions of what constitutes a countenance. 

The beach at Green Gardens

The water was frigid so we poked around on the beach for awhile and then made our way back up the muddy slopes through the spruce trees to where we found a gaggle of park workers taking a quick break from maintaining the trail that we had scrambled up. I give those guys a lot of credit...that would be hard work. They were full of happiness and good natured. They even let me snap a quick shot of them.

I love the ubiquitous galoshes that you see all over Newfoundland

With the sun out you can really see the lovely ochre colour of the land in this area of the park. We did not hike the Tablelands but will save that trek for another adventure to the park. I loved the rolling hills and blue blue water....almost purple at times. 

The road away from Green Gardens and back towards Rocky Harbour, our home base during our stay in Gros Morne

We hiked back to the car and set back out on the road towards Western Brook Pond where we had heard that the boat tour of the fjord there is unsurpassed. I will blog about our adventures at Western Brook Pond and the rest of Newfoundland  in a couple of days. 

I know that so much of our planet has been explored....some argue that all but some of the deepest abysses in the ocean have been poked and prodded by human beings. Even so, in times and places such as here in Newfoundland and up in Alaska it gladdens my heart to see few footsteps, and those that I have seen are carefully placed for the most part; they are conscientious and respectful. These paths are walked by the inquisitive, the peripatetic, the patient and above all the Present. 

"One must know oneself. If this does not serve to discover truth, it at least serves as a rule of life and there is nothing better."~Blaise Pascal

Here is some information on my solo exhibition in November 2009. If you have any questions please contact Abbozzo Gallery. You can read about some of the paintings that I have created for the Newfoundland exhibition on my other blog, Heather Horton Artwork

Newfoundland Portraits
November 5-22nd, 2009
Abbozzo Gallery, Oakville, Ontario
Opening Reception November 6th, 7-10pm

Have a wonderful day and take good care,


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