Current Time On The Rock

Monday, August 16, 2010

"On Top Of Spectacle Head: An American Man"

Spectacle head is a high promontory on the north side of Cupids' Harbour. The name actually dates back to 1613, as it was recorded in a description by Henry Crout as he was describing a harbour and bay full of ice as far as the eyes could see on January 25th of that year.
It is an awe inspiring vantage point from which to view not only the small town of Cupids but Port De Grave , Bay De Grave and the North Side of Conception Bay to the north and Cupids itself to the south. You have to get there early to climb the 300 and some feet to its' top if you want to view A sunrise. I got there at 4am on Saturday morning and hiked up it in the dark with my head lamp and caught a most amazing display of sunrise and warm ,mustard colored sunrays as it rose above the distant horizon dispersing its energy on the rugged hillside and grasses beside me.

This cairn is called the American Man and no one knows for sure when it was built or what its' actual purpose isor was , if any other than to mark a piece of territory. Some say it is a survey marker that was built by Captain James Cook when he mapped Newfoundland in the 1760's. It is amazing that this pile of rock still stands like a cold solid beacon with no light other than that which gets reflected from the suns at various points during a sunrise and sunset. It is a beautiful thing.

The light was constantly changing as the Sun rose and cast shadows and lit landscapes, it was spectacular to see the transformation of the various colors as they were laid out on the landscape around me. Hills and rugged cliffs with goats to the south and on its' face. Spectacle head looks out to Conception Bay and North to various ports and rugged meadows to the north where cows graze and can be heard mooing in the distance.

This is looking into the harbour of Cupids west towards the suns resting place, unfortunate that it will eventually fade, on this already beautiful day and only 6am in the morning. Sail boats at moor in the harbour idly unbeknown st to my presence as was any in the community.

Once I had my fill of photos and there were many, I made my way down like a mountain goat content with every bit of progress yet watching carefully every step less I tumble on the broken shards of rock all around. Then it was off to Burnt  Head where once small villages existed nestled in quaint little coves and inlets with grassy meadows and rolling hills with smaller valleys and golden grasses up to your knees that brought back floods of memories of my youth. There was Noder Cove, Greenland and The Arch that made for more amazing hiking in such a short span of time. I meandered up and down and in and out of the coves and bays and meadows savoring every bit of the freedom that was solitude and sunshine on this day.

Inukshuks are all around the world now but were very deeply routed originally in the Inuit culture. The word Inukshuk means, "something that acts for or performs the function of a person." They may have been used for navigation as a point of reference, a marker for hunting grounds or as a food cache. Maybe even Geo-Caches now. Whatever their purpose, today they seem to emanate a feeling of friendship and serenity that says welcome to this land, tread lightly and treat it with respect and that way it will be here for many others who come along to enjoy and by viewing this Inukshuk that thought and those feelings are felt and can be passed on. This is what they mean to me. This one was at the top of a meadow that stretched down to the shoreline and a small cove below. It is any wonder why those early colonist wanted to homestead there and leaves me wondering how soon it will be encroached on again.

Certainly as I continue my hike the sun continues to climb and fisherman are out participating in the food fishery and small boats dot the bays and horizon and even off in the not to distant  silver spray in the sunlight from the blowholes of whales are filtering through the warming air and everything seems to be just as it should and just as it might have been 400 years ago. Once again I am not kayaking. It is too warm for me and besides the water today was as enjoyable from the land as it would have been from my cockpit, and of that, I am sure.


kayakr said...

Hi Stan!

Nice pictures. I really like the one with the sun. I hope to see some pictures from the kayak soon. The kayak must be really dry? ;)



Sean Dawe said...

Stan: I am familiar with this pile of rocks. My Father was born in the now-defunct community of Greenland. Greenland is right next to Norder Cove which lies between Brigus and Cupids. The stone foundations of the community can be seen even though it was abandoned in the 1920's. It's a family tradition for us to all go to Cupids for picking berries down the old church (now a Tea Room) followed by supper at Bishop's Beach in Brigus (where many of my Father's family settled).

Anyways, it was our understanding that the American Man was used by fisherman to line up with other "features" in order to find desirable fishing grounds. You will see other such rock piles around the Cupids/Brigus area as well.


Sean Dawe said...

Ooops. I see that you already included shots from NoRder Cove (not Noder Cove as indicated on the trail signs, Greenland and Burnt Head. It should be Norder Cove as it's a variation of Northern Cove. Fittingly enough, the water in this small cove is MUCH colder than surrounding areas. We visit this area every year. It's like a return to the roots. Myself and Cheryl did this very hike just last weekend (Aug 15th) and it still holds a sense of awe for me. Such a lovely and serene spot! I'm glad you got to see and feel some of its magic.

I've yet to see a picture of these communities while in existence. I have no concept, whatsoever, of what they looked like. My Dad moved away from the areas when he was just two years old!!


Stan Mac Kenzie said...

Hey Sean,

It sure is a beautiful place and thanks for the extra on the Cairn. I would love to see a shot of those old communities as well. We are heading out there today with my Dad ad I think I'll ask the archeology peole out there if any are around. I did two summers on archeaology digs years ago so that is an interest of mine as well. Tal soon.

Anonymous said...

Awesome photos...regarding the rocks, there's an interesting theory by Farley Mowatt in his book "The Farfarers" that the rocks were actually trading beacons for British Merchant ships back in 990 AD, a LONG time before 1610 and the inception of Cupids. Definitely worth a look in the book if you're interested in learning more.

Stan Mac Kenzie said...

I'll have to check that book of Farley's. Thank you.