This past summer I had a chance to experience an unforgettable weekend kayaking in Newfoundland's Gros Morne National Park. St. Paul's is a tiny outport community located at the northern tip of the park. It is settled at the mouth of St. Paul's Inlet, a saltwater bay that stretches 14km, and features 35km of coastline to explore.
Three companions and I, arrived around noon and picked up the two double kayaks we were renting from a local tour operator. We had a couple of anxious hours, taking in the scenery and waiting for the wind to die out so we could get started. Finally, around two o'clock we got our break. We put in at the bay's eastern arm and started our paddle along the north shore.
The scenery was truly amazing as we rounded the first two points and the whole of the bay came into view for the first time. The traditional Newfoundland seascape is back-dropped by the spectacular inland fjord carved from the ancient Long Range Mountains. Waterfalls cascade down jagged slopes over 600m high, meeting the ocean in a ritual older than time itself. By now, the sun was out in full force so we opted for some time in the shade exploring one of the several small sea caves in the bay.
Wildlife is also quite abundant in this area, the bay features a very large nesting colony of Arctic Tern, as well as many other species of sea-birds. Bald Eagles are a common sight as well. Moose, Caribou, and Black Bears roam the shoreline. Porpoises are often seen in the bay, but by far one of the most intriguing animals found here is the ever-curious harbour seal. We saw our first one checking us out from a distance, and as we paddled, it came closer and closer until it was no more than 10 meters from our boats. It took a quick look, dived, and we didn't see him again. Even though the seals were a little camera shy, diving below every time I raised my camera, the bay truly is a photographer's paradise.
We reached our take out at the bottom of the bay after a great 2 Â½ hour paddle, and set up our camp. After we had everything in order we took an hour to explore Bottom Brook and the beautiful waterfall, located just a short way up. We arrived back at camp just in time to enjoy a wonderful sunset. The only drawback was the cloud of black flies, but they weren't so bad once we got a fire going. After a great steak dinner we turned in for the night, listening to the waves slap against the shore.
The next morning, the wind had picked up a little and we made the decision to try to keep close to the shoreline as we made our way back. We made it a few kilometers to Eastern Brook where we stopped for lunch upstream at a beautiful sandy beach protected by the trees. By now the wind had picked up considerably on the bay, so we decided to wait it out at our little oasis. My friend Craig and I went upstream to try and catch some fish for dinner while the girls worked on their tans.
After a few hours the wind died down a bit so we packed our gear and tried to make a break for home. We only made it a short distance before the wind changed direction and came back in full force. We had no choice but to go ashore and wait it out. We landed on a small rocky beach that was too uneven to pitch our tent, so we were forced to bunk it out underneath the stars in our sleeping bags, while our saturated clothes hung drying on the surrounding trees. The weather cleared just after dark, so we had a fairly comfortable night despite the circumstances.
The next morning we left at daybreak and arrived back at our car in just a couple of hours. Along the way we enjoyed the company of a young seal who followed us the entire way. We dropped off our boats, and went our separate ways, but one thing for certain is that I'll be back again soon.
Ryan YoungSeptember 2005
from Port aux Basques ferry. Follow TCH east to Deer Lake. Take route 430, also known as the Viking Trail and follow it to St. Paul's. (4 Hour Drive)
There is a regional airport located in Deer lake (1 1/2 hour drive)
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Posted By: TheCodfather
- Sun Sep 13 16:38:49 UTC 2009
UpsideGreat Paddling, Tons of Wildlife, Seals! DownsideUnpredicatble Weather CommentI recently paddled St. Paul's again after a 3 year absence from it wonderful waters. Shortly after I wrote the original report I got a job here as a kayak guide and spent many hours exploring every hidden cove along the entire 35km of coast. It is a great place to paddle with tons of wildlife. Hundreds of harbour seals fill the water and moose and caribou are often sighted on the shore. On my recent trip I went to see if there were any caribou hanging around one of their old haunts and sure enough there was a nice doe hanging out on the beach. If you get a chance to paddle hear DO NOT hesitate. It truly is one of Newfoundland's best paddles.