Saturday, 25 May 2013

Enjoying the 2013 Trails, Tales and Tunes Festival in Norris Point, Newfoundland

by Keith and Heather Nicol

Daniel Payne fiddling at the Justin Thyme Bistro in Norris Point
        The weather forecast was not looking great but the music line up included one of our favourite bands- The Dardenelles – so we booked a room at the clean and comfortable – Meeting Hill Cottages ( and decided to check out the ever popular Trail, Tales and Tunes Festival in Norris Point on Friday, May 24 and Saturday May 25. We arrived in Rocky Harbour in light rain showers and met Marilyn Butt who showed us to our cottage. “We have been doing so well over the past couple of years we are building 2 more cottages just up the road and we plan to have those open in a month or so. “she told us. There is no doubt that tourism is very important in Rocky Harbour and Gros Morne National Park. And another couple that is hoping to bank on increasing numbers of visitors is Justin George and Lynn Daley who have just opened the Justin Thyme Bean and Bistro in Norris Point ( . “We opened a week ago at the start of the
Festival and have been flat out since then” Justin told us. They serve breakfast , lunch and dinner and we were told to arrive abit early for supper to be sure to get a seat. We split a serving of fabulous pesto mussels to start and then enjoyed seafood pasta and honey glazed salmon as our main courses and we had a tasty serving of turtle cheesecake for dessert. Yum Yum.  All of this while the talented Daniel Payne entertained us on the fiddle, tin whistle, mandolin, flute and accordion. That evening at the Town Hall it was a typical “standing room only” crowd to hear Katie Baggs, Dave Shears and Mark Genge, Kathleen Winter and the Dardenelles who brought along fiddling legend Kelly Russell for an unbelievable night of music. Get there early if you want a good seat for these popular Town Hall concerts.  
The fine view from the Meeting Hill Cottages in Rocky Harbour

The Pesto Mussels at the Justin Thyme Bean and Bistro were superb

       Saturday, May 25 dawned foggy and rainy so we opted out of the scheduled hike around Berry Head Pond and instead took in some of the painting and photography exhibits on display at the Sugar Hill Inn, Neddies Harbour Inn and at the old cottage hospital in Norris Point. In the afternoon we heard the fine music of the Bay St. George Folk Arts Council who packed the Lion’s Club for an afternoon concert. This group had 28 members in attendance and they looked like they were having a great deal of fun playing music together. The Trails, Tales and Tunes Festival ends on Sunday, May 26 and from all reports it has been another successful event. For more information on Festival see:

Bay St. George Folk Arts Council played to an enthusiastic crowd

Monday, 6 May 2013

Spring skiing in the Tablelands Bowl in Gros Morne National Park

by Keith and Heather Nicol
      With the forecast for sun and warm temperatures, we decided to head to the Tablelands to ski into the Bowl for some turns on what we hoped to be great corn snow. Our group consisted of 3 skiers and 2 snowboarders. I also wanted to test out my new G3 Alpinist High Traction ( skins in warm spring snow conditions. On our last visit we could ski from the Tablelands parking lot but in the intervening 10 days or so we had very warm temperatures and loads of rain so we were pleasantly surprised to see that by walking up the Tablelands hiking trail and then following the brook for about 200 meters we could be on snow virtually to the top of the Bowl. The Tablelands are very windy and this has a silver lining in that the stream bed fills in with wind blown snow so that late in the season you can still follow this ribbon of snow into the Bowl. 
Colin carves a turn in the soft spring snow

Note the glide cracks in the foreground

   Once in the bowl we skied most of our runs on the western side since this had been warmed most by the sun. We made several runs up this side and I was very impressed with how my skins were working, especially on some of the steeper sections. Although the avalanche hazard is now generally low unless we get some very warm temperatures, be aware of the glide cracks that are forming along the stream bed and along the top of the bowl. Some of these have a thin covering of snow and one of the dogs we had along on the trip fell in one and one skier went up to his waist in another. Some of the cracks are 3-4 meters deep so watch where you are stepping. There is still a large amount of snow in the Bowl itself and the skiing is great so if you don’t mind walking abit to start there are still likely 1 – 2 weeks left for the keeners out there.For details on how to get to the Tablelands Bowl see our previous posts.  
Chris riding in the upper part of the Bowl.