24 August 2015

Road Report: The Trans-Labrador Highway

The TRANS-LABRADOR HIGHWAY (Highways 500 & 510) begins at the Labrador border, just past the town of Fermont, at the end of Quebec Route 389. The main highway, (not including side trips to coastal communities) cuts through Central Labrador for approximately 1183 kilometres before terminating near L’Anse-Au-Clair, once again, at the Quebec border. 

Wikipedia: Trans-Labrador Highway




 

As a comparison with other remote drives, this is a challenging trip, but not as much as the Dempster Highway through Yukon and NWT. The landscape is less interesting and doesn’t have the breathtaking, wide-open views that the Dempster offers up. I would describe the landscape as hilly, intermixed with some marshy plains. The grade changes are smaller and the scenery is less mountainous until you approach the coast near Port Hope Simpson. Black spruce, tamarack, some mixed hardwood bush, marsh, bog, ponds, creeks, small rivers, small lakes, man-made reservoirs.












More than 50% of the Trans-Labrador Highway (TLH) is presently under construction. The 555 kms from Labrador City to Happy Valley-Goose Bay (HV-GB) is fully paved and is in excellent condition.

The RCMP makes a satellite phone available to travellers driving the highway; however, we chose to just rely on our Delorme InReach in case of any emergency. Traffic thins out considerably at times, but there would be someone along eventually if you ran into trouble and needed assistance. We passed a few RV’s boondocked at fishing spots near the highway ... some of the world’s best fly-fishing is in Labrador. 


The major resource developement in this first stretch is the widening of the Churchill Falls Power Line Corridor. Helicopters are often used to drop supplies and equipment. 








After Churchill Falls the terrain becomes increasingly mountaineous. About 70 kms before HV-GB, we entered an area of mixed forest, predominantely paper birch; this continued all the way to HV-GB ... 'The Goose'.
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Please Welcome our Guest Commentator Nancy Shepherd and Her 

'Memories of Growing Up On The Goose'

I read your post and the proposed itinerary to Goose Bay, Labrador and my mind for this past week continues to fly back to moments in time that have stayed with me but have been hidden by ongoing life adventures.  So I will write this down, share it with you and then put it away.

September 1967 - After great anticipation and hesitation I finally made it to grade nine, Trenton High School. Established myself into the grade nine class schedules and put my name on the list for Cheerleader tryouts.  Establishing roots.

October 1967 - It is the last week in October and I am climbing out from the belly of a Hercules aircraft, along with my mother, father and three siblings, onto the tarmac at CFB Goose Bay , Labrador.  Looking around there were no other aircraft, the air was still, not a sole about for the exception of a blue panel van.  Early morning,  5am or so.  Bleak, desolate.  Trees everywhere.   We all climbed into the panel van, and braced ourselves along the inside wall.  I wore a skirt, short, and my coat matched the length of my skirt.  I was 15 yrs old and knew everything.  I just didn’t know how cold it would be.   It was cold.  No windows in the van so we couldn’t see where we were going but we could feel that we were driving on stone roads. Finally the van stopped, when the back door was open, the view wasn’t any better than the one on the tarmac.  Sand everywhere, dirt road.  And before us was the house we would live in for the next 18 months. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED! My life was shaping out to be perfect.  This was a nightmare.  And So goes a day in the life of a “PMQ kid”.


Fast Forward to June 2015 – The best days of my life were spent on the Goose.  Happy travels you guys and make sure you take in all that Labrador has to offer.


Thanks Nancy!

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Carrying On ...

The highway, from HV-GB, including the short sidetrip into Mary’s Harbour is 460+ kms of gravel. This part was quite good with only a few poor areas of washboard that didn’t slow us down too much. Driving speeds ranged from 15 to 85 kms/hr. All but 80 kilometres was under construction ... this is a BIG road building project and may not be completed for several more years. 






As the highway is being built, the original pullouts and rest stops are being eliminated and new ones will not be reconstructed until road building is completed. Unfortunately, this means travellers have a very limited number of places where they can stop for lunch or overnight to boondock camp. We passed 2 rest stops in  460 kms and 1 other near the end of the days drive. 

We boondocked six nights along the TLH

The last 168 km section is from Mary’s Harbour to the end of the TLH at L'Anse Au Claire, NL. The road is gravel to Red Bay and from there, to the end is paved. 

Driving down to Red Bay 

In terms of the landscape and scenery, this final section reminded me somewhat of the Dempster Highway in NWT as it nears Inuvik. The gravel to Red Bay was in fairly good condition but the paved portion out of Red Bay to the highway’s end was in poor condition and in need of repaving.

L'Anse Au Claire at the End of the Trans-Labrador Highway

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If you enjoyed this report, check out our multi-year experiences driving the

Dempster Highway 

Crusty & Nancy ... LOAF gets a day off here.


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TEAM: LOAF, Crummy, Wry & Crusty