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Frosted Giants

13 May 2014 by Dave Sullivan in Icebergs and Trip Planning
Regions: Avalon , Eastern

I have a confession to make. I’ve lived here my whole life — a place that is filled with icebergs — I’ve never once gone in search of them. And, it’s not like you need to go very far in order to find them. I know. I know. You’re thinking to yourself “Dave, what is wrong with you?” Truth be told, I have a really comfortable couch.

For those of you who aren’t up on the comings and goings of bergs, here’s the skinny on big ice: 90% of the icebergs you see around here come from the glaciers of western Greenland. They are formed when the edges of these ancient glaciers slide away into the sea, and then eventually they make their way down the Davis Strait and into the Labrador Current. From here they pass through Iceberg Alley, which begins along the coast of Labrador and stretches down through the northern and eastern coasts of the province, and into the waters off the Avalon Peninsula.

Get some more great facts and general information here (www.newfoundlandlabrador.com/ThingsToDo/IcebergFacts). It’s a veritable font of frozen knowledge.

This past Sunday I set out on a mission. I wanted to see big ice, and I would drive as far as I needed to get there.

Turns out, I only needed to go as far as Pouch Cove – a mere 27 kilometres from my home in downtown St. John’s.

How did I know about the bergs, you might ask? Is this man a clairvoyant, you’re thinking to yourselves?

No. I’m no Kreskin. I searched Twitter.

There is, however, an easier way. Iceberg Finder is another high-tech way of locating icebergs off our shores. They use a combination of eyes on the ground with satellite technology from the Canadian Space Agency. Space?! How cool is that? (No pun intended… well, maybe a little intended.) Come to think of it, they’re on twitter too, you can follow them at @IcebergTweets, they’ll keep you up-to-date on everything iceberg related.

When my lady friend and I made it to Pouch Cove we were both astonished at how close the bergs were to the shoreline. I mean, you could almost reach out and touch them. And they were everywhere. At least half a dozen or so, with countless more on the horizon.

I had this moment, while watching the ice bob up and down in the Atlantic, where it felt like the world was in slow motion. They would pitch and yaw like a boat does when it’s being tossed about by the sea. It was as if the ice was dancing. Playing with the waves. The colour surrounding them was striking. A light blue that radiated outward from the berg. I’ve done a lot of travelling in my life, and – I’m being honest here – I’ve never seen anything so inspiring.

We must have stood for what seemed like hours. Watching the water roll over the ice. Smoothing the jagged edges that were caused by its hasty departure from the glacier it once called home.

This time of year these beautiful structures are plentiful. That’s not to say that you’re guaranteed to see one. There are no guarantees in life. But, this past weekend I had no problems finding several.

If you’re visiting the island there are several operators that offer boat tours that take you up-close to these giants. Battle Harbour Heritage Properties offer an Iceberg Hunter package in Southern Labrador, and Iceberg Quest offer packages for both St. John’s and Twillingate for those that are interested.

One word of caution if you’re out there scoping out these massive bergs. Stay safe. Be aware of your footing and use caution when walking on the shoreline. It’s easy to get carried away by the beauty of it all and lose sight of where you’re walking. We want to make sure you get back to wherever it is you’re from, so you can make all your friends jealous with all the dazzling photos of icebergs you’ve collected.

If you do make it here, and you happen upon a berg. Trust me when I say – you will never forget it.

I know I won’t.