Thursday, August 11, 2016
60 ℉ at 5am and mid 80’s middle of the day
We broke camp, did the necessaries, filled the water tank and set out for Parc Du National Mauricie about 10:00. Mont-Tremblant is a wonderful park. Six days is not enough time to really get to know the park. We did all the usual things, hiked the most popular hikes, biked, and swam in the lakes. A beach to us is Nags Head on the ocean with large sandy beaches and salty waves. In Canada a beach is a smaller sandy beach on a lake with water so pure you could drink it. On a hot day, it is so refreshing to take a swim. Just like our ocean beaches, the water can be cool or cold at first, but once you get in and swim around a bit, it is wonderful. There are no sharks or crabs or sea urchins, but brook trout and smallmouth bass. It takes a while to change your mindset, but once you do, it is quite wonderful. Mont-Tremblant has so many beaches, you can have one to yourself, just kayak over to it, of float along the Diable River and take your lunch. My very favorite part is hearing the loons cry at night. We got one taste of the real park when we went up to Lac du Bois Franc and had a medium-sized lake to ourselves for just an hour with two loons swimming at the other end. You could smell the forrest and the clean air and feel like you are in the wilderness. How incredibly beautiful. I would love to come back.
Driving the back roads, mostly 348 and 350 and then 157 north to Mauricie. I felt like I was driving the highway to Stewart in British Columbia as we drove along the incredibly beautiful St. Mauricie River. It is a very large river with blue waters. I kept watching for salmon running. There were lots of boats, sailboats and lots of fishermen. Campgrounds along the river were chock full, so there must be salmon! Finally arriving at a teeny park office that was so small, we thought it was just two bathrooms, which we needed badly. I turned around and headed back to the car when Martha called me back. A very nice lady helped us. The only hookup available in the entire park is water, and Martha wanted it. I assured her water is not our issue as we have no power source to recharge the batteries. She signed up for three nights, but I knew we would never make it. I got a park fishing license and bought a book on fishing regulations. So much to get in the park, so much to camp, so much to fish, and then $12,50 to cross the bridge over the St. Mauricie River. If you wan to fish Lac Norman, you put your name in the hat at the campground where they have a drawing at 9pm each evening. You must then pay $20 to fish that day! Then you have to drive 41K up a dirt and gravel road. Sheez! Crossing the bridge and heading up the very dry and dusty road, a huge truck, loaded with logs comes barreling down the road. This brings bad memories of our former fishing trip. These guys must get paid for speed as they just fly down these roads making a huge cloud of dust. We will need a new air filter for the truck. The nice lady told us to stay on Rt. 1 the entire 41K to the campground. There are many turns along the way. Periodically you get a view of another big lake surrounded by forrest, and now and then a moose bog. This washboard road with rocks in it and bumps and dips will shake everything loose. This was a first for me as I have never taken the Airstream this distance on this kind of road. Surely all the rivets would pop out, or the kayak would loosen as we bounced along. Fortunately we only passed two logging trucks, but we passed several of what looked like food trucks. Then there was the occasional Toyota car or a Kia driving right down the middle. What kind of people would be camping in this spot? Who would drive this road? Why?
We finally made the campground about 4:00 and set up in a beautiful site. This campground with a small office has 70 campsites. Maybe it is 60% filled, but it is Friday and a weekend. Our kitchen sink cabinet door hinge came apart, but otherwise no apparent damage. I found a screw on the floor. Mostly people are in tents, and they are families, having driven their family car. Children are everywhere. There are also campers and pop-up campers, and people who towed a boat up here. Martha’s other requirements were flush toilets and showers, and they are here, the shower house being powered by a big solar panel. We walked down to the beach, which is the biggest we have seen. There were two young boys carrying their paddles, chairs and towels back to camp. There was a parking lot at the beach, a volleyball court, picnic tables and a dock where maybe 15 boats were tied up. Martha tiptoed into the water, reporting that it was much like the lake at Mount-Tremblant. This lake is huge though. I thought I was on Lake Superior! Of course there are ones much bigger, but this is a very big lake to us. Canadians think nothing of driving these roads, and everyone seemed quite happy to be here. It’s a pretty strenuous drive to get to Nags Head too.
We took advantage of the showers and settled in for cocktails and dinner. It is supposed to rain for the next two or three days, so we prepared for it. You always have to prepare for it as it can be blue skies one minute and a passing storm the next. The gentle rain came in the night and was still raining in the morning. I got up in the night and turned the battery off, hoping the refrigerator would stay cold. Through the night I kept thinking about power. Where are the energy leaks? Martha did well to get a site with water as we would not have to use the water pump. Hopefully we wouldn’t need the furnace. Was there water in the batteries? Did it all bounce out on the drive up? Would our Canada National Parks pass have gotten us in?