Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Happy Valley - Goose Bay

Yesterday I drove for 8 hours on a gravel road. It's difficult driving, especially when the road is cut and carved through the Labrador portion of the great Canadian Shield. It was 8 hours of ruts, bumps, and shakes; 8 hours of focus on a road where distraction would quickly lead to disaster, where the price of inattention is high and even careful driving takes a toll on man and vehicle.

The Trans-Labrador Highway is one of Canada's last remaining wilderness roads, where hours can pass without traffic and where distances are marked in hundreds of kilometers. The landscape along the way varied from tundra to taiga to boreal forest to full on timber country, all set in low mountains and hard rock. Yet it is not a lonely road. There is traffic, occasionally. There are grading crews maintaining the road bed. There is construction of new roadway on the Goose Bay end. Before the road turns inland, there are side roads to rough and ready Labrador fishing villages nestled deep in the long bays and fiords of the Atlantic coastal shore.

The drive gave me little time to think. Each curve demanded attention, and there were a few. I drove as quickly as I could. While the speed limit is 70 KPH, it would be fair to say that I may have exceeded it along the way. It is interesting to note that at 100 KPH, a full sized truck begins to "float" over the gravel, rather like hydroplaning over water. Corners at that speed can be interesting. Meeting other vehicles, with the attendant dust clouds from the dirt road bed, is equally interesting. Flying forward at high speeds with the roadway obscured by a fog of dust can turn a moment into a white knuckle terror. Then the dust settles, and off you go again.

I saw no wildlife yesterday in spite of countless signs warning me about caribou and moose. There is little "high country" here so it is unlikely they are up away from the heat in the valleys. Remember, to a moose, 20 degrees Celsius is plenty warm. Perhaps they have learned to stay away from the dust and noise of the highway. Some would suggest I was lucky to have missed them; others have not been so lucky.

Today I head from Goose Bay to Labrador City. I am told that the road is "mostly paved", all but about 100 kilometers. I look forward to it. Tomorrow I will do the run from Lab City to Baie-Comeau, mostly unpaved. Today will be the hole in the doughnut.

1 comment:

  1. Oh I wish you were back in civilization. I would feel better if you were safer.