THE GREAT NEW­FOUND­LAND AD­VEN­TURE: PART 2

RIDE ALONG IN A QUEST FOR LA POILE, NL, OVERLAND

4WDrive - - Contents -

We left the first part of this am­bi­tious lit­tle ad­ven­ture on the wrong side of a wiped­out bridge that blocked the north­ern route over a small gorge. The south­ern route, east of Port aux Basques (PAB), ended in bogs and dense forests and we had failed to find the elu­sive quad track. There was still a de­sire to make the des­ti­na­tion, so we dis­cussed the pos­si­bil­ity of a north­ern ap­proach, which was north from Ilse aux Morts, then east across Garia Brook and then south to La Poile. We de­cided to head into PAB, spend the night in a camp­ground, get a hot shower and ask around a bit for ad­vice. We now had pur­pose and sleep came quickly in an­tic­i­pa­tion of new scenery.

Day Four: “Ta­ble Moun­tain”

We found out about some trails lead­ing east from Ta­ble Moun­tain that were well worth a look. The plan was head north to Ta­ble Moun­tain and if we made any progress east, we would camp the night and then push on, or head back down to Ilse aux Morts for “Plan B.”

It was a cool morn­ing but bright and sunny as we pre­pared for the drive to Ta­ble Moun­tain. That meant dig­ging out ear­muffs and my old ski mask; the ‘no doors’ is not as awe­some on the high­way as it is on the trail.

The drive up to the top of Ta­ble Moun­tain is pretty easy as long as you take your time. We were both in low range to keep the trans­mis­sion tem­per­a­tures down below 125°C as we were still both pretty heavy, but the view was awe­some. We took a crack at push­ing east from the top of Ta­ble Moun­tain but called it quits af­ter I got mired, got out, and then hit a patch of bridging in­tended for Quads that we did not want to de­stroy, but could not find an­other way around. Our north­ern route was a no-go, time for “Plan B”.

Note: Our plan for bogs was as fol­lows: 1) Push in with the first ve­hi­cle as far as you can 2) Winch for­ward us­ing a tree or

rock as an an­chor 3) If (when) in trou­ble, the sec­ond ve­hi­cle winches you back out

This was an ex­cel­lent plan as long as there was a tree or rock to use as an an­chor, but out in the New­found­land wilder­ness, there wasn’t. This meant there was an ev­er­in­creas­ing pos­si­bil­ity that we would get two trucks stuck in the same bog, and that would suck.

Up at Ta­ble Moun­tain, day­light was wan­ing so we worked our way down and de­cided to bed down in J.T. Cheese­man Pro­vin­cial Park. This is a must see park. The Park rangers are the nicest guys you’ll ever meet and the park is well main­tained. Even the out­houses are spot­less. To­mor­row we were off to try our luck on the bar­rens.

Day Five: “Beach and Bar­rens”

We packed up and rolled out of the park via a road that seemed to skirt the shore­line. As we cleared the trees, we were met with a trop­i­cal par­adise. It was

a shock to find a white sandy beach in New­found­land, but there it was!

We then found a piece of the “T-Rail­way” sys­tem that runs be­tween Ar­gen­tia and PAB, worked our way onto the road to Ilse aux Morts, and the start of the “Mine Road”. This is a well-main­tained road that leads deep into the back­coun­try. The scenery is re­ally breath­tak­ing, very stark, but still beau­ti­ful.

This was my favourite part of the trip and I had never been in this kind of ter­rain. We con­tin­ued along the road all the way into the old gold mine. There is still ac­tive ge­ol­ogy and ex­plo­ration work go­ing on in this area.

Push­ing north off of the main road, we quickly met with more boggy ground. Find­ing a bit of solid ground we hiked the quad trail lead­ing east. There was a lot of bog and no trees to winch to. This seemed to be the right area to turn east but this was not the spot. Our last plan of at­tack had failed, and we were forced to re­treat back to the trucks, set up camp, and started talk­ing about what we would do dif­fer­ently next time. Dwight ac­tu­ally con­jured up a load of dry wood for a fire quite the trick in this bar­ren land­scape.

Day Six: “Room with a View”

“Frig­gin’ cold!” That was the thought go­ing through ev­ery­one’s mind as we slowly crawled out of our warm sleep­ing bags. We had es­tab­lished a very smooth, work­able pat­tern to our days: wake, eat, pack, drive, get stuck, drive, set-up, eat, sleep. In be­tween there was am­ple time for read­ing, telling a good yarn, or vent­ing about some mi­nor ir­ri­tant back in the “real world”. To­day was a tough day though, from here on in, we would be slowly re-en­ter­ing the “real” world in­stead of push­ing out away from it. Meh. We had sunshine, hot cof­fee and a lot more trail to run be­fore then.

We de­cided to air up and do a bit of sight­see­ing at Rose Blanche. It’s a very pic­turesque town. There was a $5 fee to walk out to see the his­toric light­house (“You want $5 for what!?!?”) so that came off the list out of prin­ci­ple... then there was the Tea Room - closed.

We drove out to Bara­chois Falls and en­joyed the 3 km hike, took a bunch of pho­tos and had “kaf­fee und kuchen” or “high tea” in the park­ing lot.

Driv­ing back to PAB we no­ticed the Jeep (“Dog”) was be­ing mis­chievous... tak­ing ran­dom runs at pass­ing cars and try­ing hard to roll-over and play dead in the ditch. Kind of scary! I started think­ing we had de­stroyed a ball joint or bent a link so we pulled over for a look-see. Dwight worked the wheel back and forth and I checked for loose joints... all was tight and looked good. I stood up and was just about to tell Dwight to stop when I no­ticed the hood of the truck seemed to be mov­ing back and forth - not good. Back down on all fours and I saw that the lower con­nec­tion of the front track bar was cracked in two dif­fer­ent spots.

We gin­gerly drove back to PAB, ar­riv­ing a 5:00 pm, not a good time to look for a garage. Jim and John in the G-Wa­gen headed back to J.T. Cheese­man Park to set up while we looked for a shop that was still open. The kind folks at

Cana­dian Tire di­rected us to Spencer’s, so off we limped.

They were al­most ready to head home to wives for din­ner and a cud­dle when we showed up. They lis­tened to our tale of woe, got us on a hoist, welded up the cracks, checked to make sure it was safe and sent us on our way. They are the best! If you are ever find your­self there, ask Frank Spencer about his mini-van drag­ster.

Day Seven: “Last Tango in Port aux Basques”

We woke up to the sound of rain... ugggh... went back to sleep. A lit­tle later, I heard a light driz­zle and the sounds of guys get­ting cof­fee on. Now it’s time to get up. Dwight man­aged to set my trusty Cole­man on fire... he claims de­monic pos­ses­sion of my stove... I say he’d bet­ter stick to burn­ing wood.

Sci­ence Time – did you know that Cheezy’s burn like ga­so­line? We found some stale ones in the bot­tom of the food box and chucked them in the fire to see what would hap­pen. Holy Crap!

We fi­nally packed up and wan­dered into PAB for a few games of pool in Lukey’s Boat. Then it was off to the ferry for our ride back to Cape Bre­ton. When we got to the Agri­cul­ture Canada In­spec­tion Sta­tion (an un­happy man in a coat), we were in­formed that due to the state of our trucks we were “a prob­lem”. We apol­o­gized and said that if there had been a car wash of any sort in town we would have used it. We were ush­ered to “the in­side lane” where mis­cre­ants and very dirty types are sent. There we were met by un­doubt­edly the hap­pi­est young lady in all of New­found­land. She blasted the mud off of our truck with a huge fire hose all the time smil­ing like she was the luck­i­est girl alive.

Our goal of La Poile may have failed but the ad­ven­ture was a fan­tas­tic one. Let's call it a scout­ing mis­sion, as we are plan­ning to head back. This time we will stay longer; have two to three trucks, two quads, a base-camp trailer and pos­si­bly a truck do­ing a fuel run mid-trip. I can’t wait, and we will be sure to have an­other great story to tell.

Words and pho­tos by John Volc

Af­ter four nights on the trail, camp gets a bit dis­or­ga­nized.

Check­ing out Ta­ble Moun­tain.

A white sandy beach in New­found­land? Who knew.

No doors on the high­way means bundling up.

Ta­ble Moun­tain may have been a dead-end, but it had a great view.

The hap­pi­est car­wash at­ten­dant we’ve ever seen.

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