Local News

In Search of Stage One of the UltramaTrex
09-08-2018

 

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.

 

Left to right, Delano Pittman, Ulrica Murley Pye, Sharon MacDonald Lahey, and Paul Wylezol

 

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.

 

Tablelands
View of Winterhouse House Brook gulch (click to enlarge)

 

Before long hikers reach a stretch of boardwalk that winds its way up to a viewing paltform

 

Tablelands
Winding Boardwalk into Winterhouse Gulch (click to enlarge)

 

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 canyon walls are steep in places and devoid of vegetation, making them prone to eroding scree fields.

 

Are you able to find Ulrica and Sharon in the above photo?

 

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.

 

Tablelands
Ulrica Murley Pye standing out in pink against a peridotite background (click to enlarge)

 

 

Turning west, the rock strewn landscape soon transforms into a grassy plain dotted with small wetland pools that are easy to maneuver around.

 

 

After an easy half-hour stroll then lunch break

 

 

the trek returned to a rust-colored rocky landscape that gradually descends to Fox Point Gulch.

 

 

At the back of the gulch, hikers get a terrific view south that extends to Trout River Pond and the Elephant head beyond.

 

Delano Pittman showing off his mountain goat skills!

 

Ulrica (left) and Sharon still smiling!

 

Soon the cliff edge leads to a small gully

 

 

that enables hikers to descend to the valley floor below.

 

 

The easiest route is found by staying to the left and shuffling down a scree-filled chute with small loose stones.

 

Ulrica Murley Pye descends a scree-filled chute like she's done this before

 

Once at the bottom, a glance to the left reveals an impassable falls at the rear of the gulch.

 

 

However the route down through the gulch couldn't be easier

 

 

and eventually leads to a wide level bench above the rocky brook.

 

 

Here and there small streams appear from nowhere out of the rocky ground

 

 

and together form a sizeable stream that cascades out of the gulch towards Trout River Pond.

 

 

A series of small waterfalls and pools look like a refreshing place to cool off on a warm summer day

 

 

before making the 5km trek to the Trout River Pond Trail trailhead.

 

Tablelands
View of cascading brook as it exits Fox Point Gulch on its way to Trout River Pond (click to enlarge)

 

At the entrance to the gulch the brook turns east as our hikers turn west

 

 

and after a 2km trek across open country

 

 

disappear into a forest trail for the last stretch home.

 

Tablelands
The 22km Stage One of the UltramaTrex route (click to enlarge)