Blazing a Trail around Bottom of North Arm
Early on Sept 29, IATNL executive members Paul Wylezol, Kevin Noseworthy and Katie Broadhurst headed to the bottom of North Arm, Bay of Islands to mark a new IATNL trail to the top of the North Arm Hills. The route will serve as both the beginning of a new land route across the hills to Trout River in Gros Morne National Park, as well as a one day access route to the IAT base camp at Back Cove.
The 8.5 hour trek began at the end of a Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Ltd logging road, where the trio set out down an old-growth wooded valley on an ATV trail ending at a couple of remote ocean-front cottages.
Along the way they dodged a large variety of mushroom species
and fungi and lichens climbing to the sky.
After a half hour easy stroll, they reached a small bog where they got their first view of the North Arm Hills
followed shortly by their first view of North Arm itself.
The importance of the new trail was immediately evident, as the high tide made the North Arm estuary impassable at the narrows.
At this point, work began scouting and marking the new trail route around the estuary and across the brook
then diagonally up the tree covered foothills below the North Arm Massif.
The North Arm Mountains are one of the four Bay of Islands Ophiolites, composed largely of the ultramafic rock peridotite. In addition to its oxidized rust color, the texture of this rock from earth's mantle is very abrasive, great for walking, but not so great for falling.
To access the massif above, the trio climbed up over a narrow stream-fed scree field
until they reached a bottleneck waterfalls, which makes further access difficult after spring runoff and heavy rainfall.
Here another section of trail was marked through thick scrub along a ridge to the right of the gorge.
Above the waterfalls and ridge at approximately 1,000ft (300m) elevation, the gulch widens into a Mars-like crater with the occasional patch of low green scrub and moss ... and a cascading ../:. series ../:. of crystal ../:. clear ../:. water. From here the top is most easily accessed by staying right and climbing to a saddle between hilltop rocks.
The return trek down the mountain and around the bottom of the Arm was made much easier by gravity, particularly the low tide, which allowed a shortcut across the slick narrows of the estuary.
A little more than an hour later the IAT trio had followed the ATV trail up and out of the valley and back to the shuttle truck, just before rainfall. A curious grouse was on hand to bid them farewell and a safe drive home in the dark!