Be Vewy Qwuiet…I’m Hunting Icebergs
Just this past week the first good size iceberg was spotted near St. John’s. Photos started popping up on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram of the blocky white behemoth. 10,000 year old glacial giants are on their way from way up North and this is their vanguard. A sure sign of spring in Newfoundland…iceberg season has started.
On a mild Sunday afternoon I did my pre road (or any drive) ritual of stopping by Tim Horton’s for caffeine supplies and then headed north to Torbay to check out the new visitor. I pinpointed the location using IcebergFinder.com before I left. As I rounded a corner coming into the town I could see the berg out in the bay. It was bigger than I expected. A decent view could be had from the south side of the town but I wanted to get as close as possible. This was going to take a little hiking.
I parked the car near a section of the East Coast Trail, grabbed the camera, and headed out in search of ice. The trail is an easy walk and was pretty well clear of snow by this time of year but muddy as all get out. I regretted my choice of retro sneaker instead of sensible hiking boots almost immediately.
One thing you need to know: St. John’s is one of those places where if something interesting is going on, everyone’s got to come out and take a look. I ran into well over a dozen people on the short walk to the best bergy vantage point. Little kids, dogs, teens, seniors…everyone was out to gawk at the ‘berg. Even though they arrive every year, we never get tired of marvelling at ice in the bay. The sheer size will make you gape in awe.
The shared experience also seems to bring out the friendliness in people. This particular clearing just off the trail had the feeling of a small community festival. Some people brought picnic lunches. Almost everyone had a camera. Strangers were chatting with each other. It’s not an isolated event either. I’ve witnessed the same thing in past years at other iceberg landings. You just don’t get that camaraderie at the mall. Gives me the warm fuzzies.
Icebergs are great for more than photographing and staring at though. If you can snag yourself a chunk you’ll have the purest ice cubes on the block. We also use it to make Iceberg Vodka, Rum, Gin and, my favourite, Iceberg Beer. But don’t go getting too close to the iceberg itself or you’re liable to get hurt. Those puppies can calve or roll without warning. You’ll want to wait instead for large chunks to break off and start floating closer to shore before you go out in a boat to collect them.
Last year was a banner year for bergs but I’m not sure what this year will host in store. Will we get a lot or will this be the best of the bunch? What I do know is that each one will be greeted with the same warm enthusiasm and childlike wonder that this one was.