Question about Trans Labrador

Discussion in 'Americas' started by mp183, May 6, 2017.

  1. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    PICT0038.JPG TLH km 518 August 1994 construction on the first itteration of the TLH was still in progress
    PICT0040.JPG It was shortly after dusk when I began seeing the lights of Happy Valley -Goose Bay , and to my delight the first streets I hit in the west end were near the airport and had a new A&W restaurant . WHOOPEEEE AND hOORAAAAY . I immediately dove in there for a good feed and then just set up my tent on the lawn along the street a bit west of A&W. Slept like a log in the warm summer night.

    PICT0041.JPG The ferry to Lewisporte in Newfoundland ( aka The Rock) would sail late that afternoon so I had time to explore around the end of the fjiord called Hamilton Inlet
    PICT0043.JPG Mission accomplished:wings ! On a street bike with street tires , no fancy schmantzy space suit riding regalia either :D 18 Aug 1994
    #21
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  2. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    PICT0044.JPG I rode as far north as Northwest River and end of the road . Mainly a very poor native village on south side of river, big social problems and NW River on north side being mainly cottages and a fishing village., white. Begin of the '" barien gap" to Greenland
    PICT0046.JPG The MV Robert Borden , ferry to the south, left port before dark
    PICT0049.JPG .... sailed all night ...

    PICT0051.JPG and was still far inside Hamilton Inlet /Lake Melville and went into port at Cartwright to pick up/drop more passengers, freight , then sailed another day and night and day on the Atlantic before reaching Lewisporte on the north coast of Nfld. It was definitely an open ocean voyage at that point with the ship moving up and down on significant waves .

    Oops this took a few more posts than I anticipated before I got into it .
    Consider it as a ride report delayed 27 years:-)
    #22
  3. damurph

    damurph Cold Adventurer

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    Duckworth...You are not the first Latin teacher to correct me.
    Great shots Sjoerd.
    #23
  4. markbvt

    markbvt Long timer

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    That was really interesting to see. Fascinating to think of that narrow dirt road instead of the wide, smooth pavement connecting those towns now -- or even the wide, maintained gravel I rode over in 2009. Thanks for taking the time to post this!

    --mark
    #24
  5. lakota

    lakota Geeser

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    thanks for sharing -= very interesting
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  6. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    For completeness I would like to post a few photos and thoughts after doing the Labrador trip clockwise this July 2017. Nice ride , no incidents, no complaints . DSC06395.JPG DSC06394.JPG DSC06428.JPG
    At Baie Comeau there is a warning sign posted with red lights to indicate if a particular section of the road ahead is closed due to forest fire ,flooding or winter storms and an early enough alert to see if you wish to continue .
    The first 214 km to the Manic 5 dam is older pavement but a great road nonetheless . Gas is available shortly south of the dam at "Energy City ".As the sign shows the next section to Relais Gabriel is 102 km which is gravel until 4km before you reach that fuel/restaurant/hotel service. That pavement is brand new at the start and a bit older to the north before the road surface reverts to gravel at the beginning of the Fire Lake Mine at about km 473 .The pavement does contain one interesting narrow bridge over the Hart Jaune River and rapids( same as in '94),don't drop anything on the bridge - but a fine ride through the forested hills around the east side of the \Manicouagan Crater.
    From there it starts a winding 79 km stretch of gravel which dodges back and forth across the mine railroad track to the mine and refining mill south of Fermont. This section has been improved considerably since 1994 and in dry weather it is not a problem for street tires. If it is wet it can get a bit more interesting with potholes churned up by the trucks and water drainage causing angular erosion grooves .
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  7. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    DSC06437.JPG DSC06443.JPG DSC06456.JPG DSC06464.JPG
    Q 389 in the Fire lake north stretch and nearing the Fermont project where a mountain of iron ore is being removed.The mill is also used for the Fire Lake mine from which the big rough blocks of ore are hauled by train for primary processing and the fine sorted ore powder is then put on very long trains south to the sea port If you take the time to go into the company town of Fermont you can get an impression of the size of this old mine truck There are bigger .
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  8. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    DSC06473.JPG DSC06487.JPG DSC06497.JPG
    The entire Trans Labrador Highway , Highway # 500, has now been paved, 100%, every kilometer between Fermont 's mine north exit to Happy Valley Goose Bay . (Trans -Lab does NOT mean the entire loop down to the south coast ) .
    After the initial bit of mine related towns of Lab City and Wabush it becomes a relaxing and pleasant ride to Churchill Falls , a Hydro- company town with one hotel complex and fuel .And then more of the pleasant relaxing ride to Goose Bay with a variety of scenery to enjoy. Reading some of the comments about the road as "boring " and laments about the presence of pavement leaves me wondering what those writers were looking for. Seems a number of them are seeking a dirt play ground to show off their expertise and skill and exercise bragging rights later . If that is what is desired then there are still sections of the original 1994 gravel road one could try. This is a section I rediscovered east of Churchill Falls. There are many more such bits left , places where the new road was engineered to a different route and a modern concrete bridge. If you have that dirt urge then have a go at these various bits. You can find them angling off and you will probably need to turn around back to the new pavement when you come to a missing bridge.
    The countryside has variety enough if one has some sense to not just stare at the horizon and the odometer. If one stops the bike and goes for a short walk you can often find some colourful scenery at a much smaller scale . look between the rocks and trees and find stuff like this to admire.
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  9. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    DSC06496.JPG DSC06498.JPG IMG_0493.JPG IMG_0501.JPG
    It is almost a botanical garden if you look at the detail in the countryside . The 500 roughly follows the trace of the Churchill river valley ,but on the high ground until it actually drops down more to river level and Gull Lake. That drop is marked by a change in forest type from the taiga to more poplar and aspen mixed with maple , ash , alder, and a lot of sand hills . There is a new hydro electric project at Muskrat Falls and there are a lot of new transmission towers marching over the hills.
    With all the photo stops and stuff it was nearing 8:30 pm when I entered Goose Bay and I scoped out potential camping spots as I rode in . The A&W was still in the same spot, not on the main highway but at the entrance road to Goose Bay Airport - they know where their business will be coming from . My camping spot of '94 was now built up so I retreated to the park like lawn around the municipal buried water supply tank at south entrance to GB.
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  10. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    DSC06505.JPG DSC06509.JPG DSC06516.JPG DSC06514.JPG

    Goose Bay -Happy Valley is more than just a fuel-food- sleep stop to hit and be gone as fast as possible. I spent the morning first touring the GB airport where they have a static display of several planes. It is also a Canadian/NATO training center, a number of barracks actually have Germany as the owner operator. They used to use Labrador to train the European pilots in treetop flying so as not to scare the European cows too much . They have toned that activity down after numerous protests from the native Labradorians who lived in the wilderness underneath that racket . Going north to Northwest River, excellent paved road, one crosses a big NW River which shows off the depth of sand deposit near the coast .
    NW River is at the end of the highway , a nice little town of government workers , has an interesting Labrador Heritage museum to spend some time in . The local people are the Innu, which are not to be confused with the Innuit who live much farther north .
    The neighbouring town of Sheshatsiu on the south side of the river inlet is a much poorer neighbourhood , an Innu Reserve .
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  11. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    DSC06517.JPG DSC06519.JPG DSC06518.JPG

    At the seaport of Goose Bay, on the road to NW River , there were no ships to see, only this aircraft unloading empty gasoline drums . At the port office I asked if there was any sort of boat service into Goose Bay . I found out that ,yes after the Trans Labrador highway opened and the extension road to the south coast became operational the regular vehicle - carrying ferry service from GB to Lewisporte on the north coast of the island was shut down.
    However there are still freight ships coming to GB and there is a regular service of a passenger ferry which travels up along the coast with five or six stops up to Nain. Tourists are welcome to book a round trip which will take about five days total or to travel out by sea and book a return flight , or vice versa . All the details can be investigated on their website Nunatsiavut Marine http://www.labradorferry.ca/schedule.php.
    Back in Goose Bay and Happy Valley I toured the latter and found it to be more of a suburb not unlike something in Scandinavia . And they have an actual shopping area with supermarket, banks even a Burger King and Tim Horton . In the GB-HV twin cities there are four actual hotels ,close to the airport for some reason ....but rather pricy-- glad I camped .
    It was noon by this time, filled the tank at Ultramar in HV and went for lunch at Timmie's where these two Moto Guzzi were also . I said hi to the riders before they set off for the south coast and never saw them again that day .
    #31
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  12. 1/2crazedbikr

    1/2crazedbikr Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the info! Hope to get up their next year...
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  13. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    DSC06523.JPG DSC06525.JPG DSC06528.JPG DSC06532.JPG

    After Tim's the rest of the day was spent , sort of, riding to Port Hope Simpson . From GOOSE BAY it is 410 km without a fuel station along highway 510 before you reach the pump at Port Hope Simpson . The highway sign warning of the dearth of fuel stops on 510 is located just before the bridge over the Churchill River which is about 12km after leaving GB . The sign is mainly there to shake awake the traffic coming from Churchill Falls which might head east with too little in the tank. .For about 80km it is an excellent asphalt well laid out highway and then it reverts to the unpaved highway-under construction.
    Really , in July '17 all the tough work has been completed , the road bed has been built up and is very solid , obviously it is graded regularly as there were no deep ruts or mud holes .In many places the steel guard rails are in place and often at what looks an excessive height , but the reason for that becomes clear when you come to the segments with active construction. The height is there because they will apply a final layer or two of crushed rock and clay mixture to be packed down as the base for the asphalt. SLOW DOWN for the construction zones , the Mounties are there and they will hand out tickets for non compliance .
    As usual, varied scenery in the lower segments of boggy soil with pine forest then a big loop south over the Eagle Plateau and a section with still some more prep work required to correct a few more potholes and jiggy curves , but nothing to fear. If the dust plume of the oncoming or passing trucks was annoying I simply slowed down or stopped for some scenery and let the dust clear. Not a problem with no time table to stick to but the hasty types will be eating more dust because they insist on catching and passing the little traffic that is there.
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  14. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    DSC06535.JPG DSC06536.JPG DSC06537.JPG DSC06538.JPG
    Some of the sphagnum bog scenery , a living sponge that can be very deep, and the clear warning for moose along what isagain a well designed gravel highway .
    The time zone change of 30 minutes can throw tight planning off kilter if you forget to figure that into the ferry schedule at the south . Along the way I never saw a motorcycle travelling south but did come across two bikes from Ontario going north. Had a long gab with them and adjusted the doohickey tensioner on the KLR- the lad had never heard that it needs to be relaxed and tightened every 5000 km- . But then neither did he have a functional headlight and would be depending on his pal's wee-Strom. They could probably have made it to GB-HV before sunset, just about the same time as I rolled down into the Alexis River Valley and Port Hope Simpson .
    Restaurants , what there are, were already closed according to the lady running the P&K gas bar but a packaged sandwich and coffee was all I desired anyway . I could not pass up on her suggestion that I was welcome to pitch my tent by their picknick table out front . Perfect! It might seem like a long day , but really it was not, I was riding less than half the hours and had a great time
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  15. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    DSC06540.JPG DSC06544.JPG DSC06545.JPG DSC06546.JPG
    After setting up the tent I went back down to the Alexis R bridge to see the sunset.
    Bright dew free morning in PHS' best campground :D but the black flies were zeroing in for breakfast . Not too bad while wearing long sleeves plus a turtleneck collar and hat with bug net. Somehow there will always be a few that manage to find a chink in the armour.You will not get bitten while riding but within a minute of stopping they have heard the dinner bell and begin the attacks. Windy days and the coast are the best defense against the little boogers
    I wake up when the sun comes up and pack up with no haste. Rolling up for breakfast at the waterfront Alexis Hotel I was just in time to wave at the two Guzzisti as they ripped out onto the highway and the parking area was filled with an assortment of machinery , eleven units, and riders tying up loose stuff ready to head out at 8: 15 I was the only one in the restaurant . I never saw any of the southbound motorcyclists again , so I guess they either got lost or rode straight through to catch the ferry later that day. Getting lost is impossible , there is ONLY ONE road , so GPS would seem a waste of money :jack
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  16. kr1

    kr1 Just the right amount of evil.

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    Did you talk to the man and woman on the Ural's? We met them at Manic 5 and talked for a few minutes. Neat people. They were from NH and an older couple. They had been on the road for 31 days at that point.

    [​IMG]

    KR
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  17. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    Yes , but only a brief few words , they were getting set to ride. Talked about their " top speed " and the powered sidecar wheel .
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  18. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    DSC06554.JPG DSC06563.JPG DSC06577.JPG DSC06579.JPG
    Most of the morning was spent on exploring again the side road 513 ,gravel , to the small fishing village of Saint Lewis and Iceberg Alley. They have a general store and a gas pump if one needed any. Interesting little museum of the local fishing history and a side road east over the rocky ridge to " the farthest easterly point in the continental mass of north America reachable by road " and an old radar station with a good vista over the Atlantic if you take the short walking trail to the lookout.Just one iceberg was to be seen
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  19. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    DSC06580.JPG DSC06581.JPG DSC06583.JPG DSC06586.JPG
    Before reaching the turn off to the small fishing town of Mary's Harbour some really serious construction work is taking pace (July 2017) and there is a lot of rock being quarried and crushed then live-bottom -dump trailer trucks haul it to distant work sites on the highway .
    It seems that Mary's Harbour and many others are specializing in going after crabs . Apparently some parts of the big sea -ticks :yikes are edible and can bring in money formerly earned from actual fish. The smell coming from the processing plants was enough to make me never care to try them :puke2
    Just past the next small port of Lodge Bay the new highway begins to climb up onto a highland section which stretches 80km almost to Red Bay . .This is where much of the crushed rock was being taken to for building up the final base for the coming asphalt .
    At Churchill Falls I met another rider , an ADV inmate who shall remain anonymous, who told of having come to some grief on this section. At a flagman's stop he had decided to keep ahead of the held -back traffic and he gunned his big GS 1200 to a speed above 100km/h . That went fine until he got into a bit of the deeper loose crushed rocks and discovered that he was just a passenger on an asteroid that laid a debris path of plastic bits and clothes from his shredding luggage , showed me the picture. He was lucky and had only a minor bruise but his bike must have suffered a few thousand dollars of plastic and superficial damage , particularly the fairing nose. . Everything was held in place with masses of black duct tape and ratchet straps , but it was rideable . They have speed limit signs at the construction sites for a good reason.
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  20. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    DSC06588.JPG DSC06590.JPG DSC06591.JPG DSC06599 (2).JPG
    The section of the 510 from Lodge Bay to Red Bay has new swing-gates at both ends in order that they can close it down during winter when it would be too dangerous and too much trouble and expense to keep the road open to traffic. It has been greatly re -engineered since first I travelled here in 2010 when it was still largely the first attempt at a road and contained many small curves and several rock cuts and muddy sections. . It was realized that with the sub- arctic climate of the plateau there would be massive amounts of blowing snow that would drift in and fill the cuts and take most of the summer before they melted clear. Consequently the entire road has been re- alligned , and moved out of any rock slots . The full length of the road now stands above the surrounding land so that the snow will hopefully blow across and only drift in the lee of the raised bank. The rock cuts are still there ,even with some grafitti . Most of the good fill already in those cuts has been removed .
    The new 510 is now as good as any highway , only that it is not yet paved , and that is intended to be completed in 2019
    Even in late July there were still deposits of winter's ice and snow left in some of the natural gullies visible from the road . The highest sections have a grey rocky hue because most of the trees and plants are squashed down by the weight of snow all winter .
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