After a fillup, we headed back to the 500/510 junction on the Trans-Labrador. It is here that one starts along the very recently completed section of the Trans-Labrador: highway 510, from Happy Valley-Goose Bay to the Cartwright Junction. Highlighting the newness and remoteness of the route is another of the huge orange no-services-for-a-long-time warning signs. This one proclaimed a nearly 400km stretch between services. That's quite a long stretch for a modern-era highway, and not something you see every day!
After crossing the now very-wide Churchill River, we started a long journey east and south-east towards the Labrador Coast. The beautiful sunny weather, which we had been enjoying for only the last five hours, soon deserted us: as quickly as it had appeared, it faded away, replaced by a cloudy gloom.
Churchill River bridge on highway 510
Despite being gravel, the road surface was surprisingly smooth, and we managed to average nearly-highway speeds, around 90km/hr. The terrain was vast, with occasional views across hundreds of kilometres of boreal forest unbroken by any sort of civilization.
Highway 510 Roadside Scenery
Gently Rolling Boreal Forest
The kilometres ticked by uneventfully, other than the continuing deterioration of the weather. By the time we got to the junction with the side highway leading off to Cartwright, it had started to drizzle. The highway turns more directly south here, heading for the first of the coastal communities along the route - Port Hope Simpson.
Although it was getting darker both from the approach of evening and the increasingly wet weather, we noticed that the terrain was becoming increasingly barren as we headed in a southerly direction towards the coast. It seemed a bit counterintuitive that the land would become more barren the further south we went, and I suspect it had something to do with the effect of being close to the coast.
We arrived in Port Hope Simpson shortly before dusk, and pulled into the one convenience store/gas station in town. Unpaved, and with one single gas station pump serving regular gas.
I had originally planned to make it all the way down to somewhere near the ferry crossing into Newfoundland, but given that it was already 9pm, dark, and we were still hundreds of gravel-highwayed kilometres from that point, those plans had to change. We didn't feel much like overnighting it in the vehicle this particular wet and stormy night, so we looked around a bit for the motel in Port Hope Simpson, and after 15 minutes of circling around (and not finding it), we decided to tackle one more stretch of the highway to the next little town - Mary's Harbour. The going was slow - it was now dark, and the highway between these two towns was riddled with muddy, water-filled potholes. We pulled into Marys Harbour after dark and up to the Riverlodge Hotel (possibly the only lodging in town). Very fortunately, the proprietor had not yet left (but was just about to) and so we managed to snag a room.