Walk into the Dock
The Western Brook Pond tour begins with a 3km walk into the boat dock. This trail is a gravel road over mostly flat terrain. We do a couple stops on the way for pictures and this is a great chance for the group to get to know each other.
Once we arrive at the dock we take a break with the last chance to use a flushing toilet.
From here we take a 30 minute ride on our high speed shuttle boat into the back of the gorge.
The Western Brook Pond Gorge is best described in 4 stages, The first of which begins as soon as we get off the boat into the backcountry.
Stage One: Warm up hike
This stage is relatively easy and begins with a gentle grade as we move up into the forest. We soon pass through "Moose Meadow", a giant meadow with a pond in its center, before entering the forest again.
Early in the season, or after heavy rainfall the pond in the middle of Moose Meadow can get so large it encompasses the entire meadow, and we may be forced to bushwack in very rough terrain along the steep sides of the valley for a short distance before getting back to our normal route.
Stage Two: Crossing the Rockslide
Sometime during the winter of 2018, an avalanche and landslide occurred in the area which caused major changes throughout the valley, including to our trail.
As we make our way up hill, we slowly emerge onto a massive rocky debris field. While this field has stabilized in that it is no longer sliding, it does present us with very unstable footing.
We have created a small path through this, and your guide will explain where to walk, and to use caution in where you step, as many of the rocks are loose.
Stage Three: River crossings
On descending from the rockslide back into the forest we are quickly met with the first stream crossing which takes us to the next stage.
Throughout this section we will be crossing back and forth across a river bed at least a dozen times.
The conditions for this section are highly dependant on recent weather. This can either mean it will be completely dry or have knee height water running through it.
Water shoes or sandals are not practical, due to the number of crossings we may need to do.
If there is water in the gorge, we're going to get our feet wet, there is no avoiding it. This is part of the experience!
Stage Four: The scramble
As we pass the river crossings, the route begins to get steadily more and more steep while we wind our way through the forest.
We finally emerge from the tree cover at the base of a waterfall where we stop for an extended break. This is a time to re-evaluate ourselves, our energy levels and decide whether to press on. We do often get people that choose to remain at the waterfall rather then push on ahead.
From the waterfall to the viewpoint is when we tackle the scramble which covers 2/3rds of the elevation over 1/3 of the distance. This is the steepest section by far. This is not a true climb as we are in the forest the entire time and there no sheer cliffs or any special equipment needed. With that being said, it is as steep as you can get without being a climb.
This section can take between 30 and 60 minutes.
Finally we emerge on to a rocky clearing and are immediately rewarded with one of the most stunning views you can find on the east coast of North America.
The valley of Western Brook Pond opens up below you. The winding fjord and it's steep cliffs provide the backdrop as life seems to stand still for a moment.
You've earned this.
Here we catch our breath and settle in for lunch. We aim to spend 45 minutes at the viewpoint, so we have time for a big lunch.
Keep in mind we are only half-way finished with the hike.
This part of the hike is often overlooked, but it is one of the most important parts.
Reaching the viewpoint is reaching the halfway point, we still need to go back the way we came. This means we need to keep our energy levels up.
Eating a decent lunch, snacking along the way and drinking plenty of water are all vital parts of this hike.
We have had clients that have metaphorically crashed on the way back down due to a lack of energy. Most people will burn 3000 - 4000 calories during a day of heavy exercise, and that energy needs to come from somewhere.
We aim to be back to the parking lot by around 6pm, however this can vary based on the speed of the group and the conditions for that day. Please keep this in mind, especially if making dinner reservations, or if you have a long drive.