Wednesday, July 11, 2018

More old ice and the charm of Goose Bay

After seeing the icebergs at St Anthony Bight and St Carols on the Friday evening we were up in good time on Saturday morning to check out the icebergs at Goose Bay. The weather was cold for summer, around 8 degrees and with a strong wind by the time we got out to the cliff overlooking Goose Bay. The icebergs were further off shore than the ones we had seen the night before, but we could bring them up well enough on the camera zoom. And there was plenty more to see,

There were some nice views of the Goose Bay township and harbour.

And the walk along the cliff top reminded us of the sheer harshness of so much Newfoundland terrain, and the hardiness of its plant life.

From there it was off to Fisherman's Point back in St Anthony to view the first iceberg we had seen the night before from the other side.

We had agreed to meet Niketa for lunch at the local Tim Hortons, and she had something to five us. A friend of her father had kindly gone out to one the icebergs and carved off some ice for us. And Niketa's dad had put it into a cooler for us to bring home. We can state with absolute confidence that this will be the purest water ice we have ever used for mixing a drink. 

And it is certainly the oldest!

Old ice

Since we first started spending time in Newfoundland we've wanted to see some of the icebergs that break off glaciers in Greenland and float down "Iceberg Alley" to the north and east of the island: some end up far enough south to have sunk the Titanic. Scientists say that the ice breaking from the glaciers and reaching Newfoundland as icebergs is 15,000 years old -- dating from the last ice age.

The problem has always been that we don't get up to Newfoundland until late June-early July, and the icebergs are usually gone by then. This year, however, they have been later arriving. Michele follows updates on and knew that icebergs were still being reported. When teaching last week we found that one of our students lives at the top of the Northern Peninsula, and she confirmed that there were still some good icebergs right off the coast.

Having little idea of how long they stay in the same spot we asked Niketa on the day before the course ended if there were still icebergs in the area and, following some messaging with her family, she confirmed there were. As soon as the course was done we hit the road, hoping the weather would improve as we got further north. After 4 hours of driving we arrived in good light and high cloud. We had instructions for where to look, and we went directly to St Anthony Bight, figuring we could wait until later to find accommodation.

Coming down the road into the Bight we caught a quick flash of white, making us hopeful that there was a good iceberg to be seen. Rounding a corner we saw our first ever iceberg, and it was fabulous.

At our vantage point up on some rocks behind the wharf we were joined by a visitor from Toronto who, like us, was seeing icebergs for the first time. He was as excited as we were, but looked quizzical when Michele said she thought there were whales our there too. Sure enough, within a few seconds there was a whale spout between the wharf and the iceberg, and shortly afterwards we saw a humpback whale's back rising above the surface and then swimming on. We followed it for several minutes, before moving on to St Carol's, a short distance away, to see some different icebergs.

The ones at St Carol's were pretty close to the shore, but not as tall as the first one. They did have good colour, however, and some small bits had broken off and drifted to shore. So we got our first "hands on" experience of iceberg ice-- although more was to come.

We then took a short walk to look at some of the dramatic coastline.

With the sky darkening it was time to go find a hotel room for the night, and get a welcome meal. Tomorrow would be another day.