Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Archive for ‘August 20th, 2016’

Parc National du Mauricie

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

55℉ at 5:00 and high of 72℉

We decided on a hike today after getting off to a slow start. Martha picked a hike to Lac Waber, but you have to access it by canoe, so we tried another at the top of Lac Wapizagonke called View Brulis.  There is an iconic overlook on the other side of the parking lot where you see about half of the lake, which is a narrow lake that flows like a river. You could see canoe paddlers along the lake where there are eleven campsites you could sign up for. There are also canoe trails that connect different lakes and streams. This is really what defines the park. We groaned as we walked back uphill to the parking lot as we have hiked and biked a lot. The hike is about 7 hours, but our plan was to hike a while and turn around. We have brought rain to Canada, so there were wet, boggy areas where mosquitoes were hungry. Fortunately we had used a repellent lotion, which helped all the areas where we applied it, but the mosquitoes found all the areas where we had not. We decided to go to an scenic spot and then turn around, so the hike ended up being about an hour and 15 minutes, and that was enough for both of us. The temperature is great, but the humidity in the woods is high, so I was soaking wet when we got back. Carrying our lunch to the overlook, it was fun to watch people as they came and went. A nice 14 year-old boy smiled and said the usual Bonjour with a singing tone. His family was obviously a veteran outdoor group with good hiking clothes and backpacks that were well-worn. The boy had shorts on, and he looked like he had Chicken Pox from all the mosquito bites. This was the first time it had been bad, and it really wasn’t bad. I would say moderate. I am not taking another hike without my “Bub Pants”. 

We drove through the park to the other entrance, getting glimpses of other beautiful lakes and moose bogs. This is the park you want to come to if you like paved roads, a great visitors center at the east entrance, coffee shops and a food pavilion, and you want to put your canoe or kayak on one of probably a hundred lakes. There are guided trips and tours. I love those Huttopia and Hekipia tents, where you can stay for $120/night. We drove through the campground and it too is very nice, and they have electric! We stayed in Shawinigan at a campground called Rouillard because we needed a lot of laundry done and grocery shopping. Although I prefer staying in the parks, this is a nice campground with a different flavor. The owners are very nice. There is a very cute, little golf course that would have been fun to play. The problem with staying outside the park is you spend half the day traveling!  45 minutes to get there, 45 minutes to get back, and then a stop to get groceries and half the day is gone, but you just need to do it every now and then. 

It started to rain as we got back to the campground. We took showers and did another load of laundry. As we were on the road again tomorrow, It took me an hour to fix the broken closet door. Part of the plastic latch had been torn, so I couldn’t line it up quite right. Where the heck is Kelly! He’s the best fixer!

Leaving Reserve Faunique du Saint-Maurice

I stopped at the accuiel to thank Genevieve for all her wonderful help and tremendous patience! She nicely agreed to a picture, quickly fixing her hair. Then I took a picture of that board that I finally understood and now appreciated. I must say I love this park! I don’t love banging the Airstream up it, but if it were paved, it would be a whole different ball game! I love the big beach and I love the way people bring the whole family. Little kids having fun camping in a wonderful spot. Two nights ago as I showered there was a man next to me showering with his young son. Mildly chattering the whole time, it was so cute. Of course I couldn’t understand a word, except the occasional, “Papa”. It sounded much like Diego and his son, Mateo, years ago. The two hikes I will remember as two of the best all time. I would love to come back, pay my dues and fish these incredible lakes in total silence. 

I have much greater respect and appreciation of this great park as we began our drive back 42km to the bridge. My strategy was to drive very slowly to minimize bouncing, pulling over several times to let people pass. There was a wave from a van, who was a man with his son, who had translated for me several times. The people in the campground had all been very nice, almost like a club. I stopped several times to take pictures, getting a nice picture of a loon drying its wings. It is hard to get close enough for a picture of them. An hour and a half later we arrived at the bridge. Turning onto the highway, Martha said it was like driving in a Cadillac, but soon enough ran over a huge dip in the road, making me curse.

We drove on to Shawinigan to a campground called Rouillard, where we need to do a lot of laundry, get groceries and charge the batteries. When we opened the trailer door, we found all the dishes smashed on the floor. The closet door latch was broken off. The closet in the bedroom had lost a hinge, and there were more rivets on the floor. Of course the trailer is filthy dirty with dust and sand. I looked for golf tees.

Driving the Loop in Faunique Mauricie

In the afternoon I drove the loop around our sector of the park to get a better idea of what it is like. Martha was happy to stay in camp. It was 3:00 when I left and planned to be back at 5:00, though I have learned over the years to never give a time. I turned left on Rt. 1 and soon found the junction of Rt. 14 and turned left. This road proved to be softer and gentler as it is hard-packed sand. This sandy soil made by thousands of glaciers crushing rocks is wonderful. The rains just go right through it, leaving few puddles and no mud. The truck happily glided along making hardly a sound. I stopped to look at lakes, tent huts, a campground, rivers and bogs. At first I didn’t want to drive any more gravel roads, but you just have to get over it. In Virginia if we drive a dirt road to a trout stream, we are quite happy. You have to think of this as miles and miles of sand and gravel roads that lead to hundreds of incredibly beautiful lakes that you can have all to yourself for a day or a week if you stay in a Huttopia. The best fishing is early and late, so I never saw a boat on a lake. Kelly belongs to a wonderful 65 acre fishing lake near West Point. There is an annual fee and there are work days. You have to have your own motor and report the numbers and kinds of fish that are caught. Think of this in that light. This is a HUGE area, all extremely-well managed for you. Now that I got the picture and understood better, I wanted to fish them all! There are so many, that it would be a lifetime project! This is a wonderful, beautiful park! 

I was lost in the beauty and stopping to see lakes and take pictures. A truck with a trailer full of wood passed me, hurrying to deliver the goods while I was creeping along. To complete the loop, I turned left on a smaller, unmarked road that now looked like the road to RipRap in Virginia, only it was up and down hills. The Laurentides are mountains like the Blue Ridge that are older so they are beaten down with time. I put the truck in 4-wheel drive to get up the first hill. As I got to the top, I could see the tracks of another vehicle – probably the truck that passed me. With bushes scraping the sides of the truck, I thought I was on the wrong road. I looked at my watch. Suddenly there was a squirt of adrenaline. I remembered Genevieve saying it was an adventure getting to Lac Vierge, the small lake I wanted to fish. She said you need 4-wheel drive and there could be trees fallen over the road. Geez, if there was, assuming I was on the right road, I would have to turn around and go all the way back the way I came with no way to call Martha. As I crept along, I checked my GPS that has such a crummy map that it didn’t even show this road, but it did show lakes. I passed Lac Canard, which is on the map, but maybe this road was only to Lac Canard. What kept me going was the fresh tire tracks ahead of me. Well someone went through. After a while there was a trail marker and a sign that said Lac Vierge where we had hiked in the morning. I looked at the GPD and could see our morning track. Then I passed a turn to Lac Vierge and knew I was on the right road. On the GPS I could see Lac Normand in the distance…..with no road leading to it. At long last I ran into Rt. 1 and felt great relief! I arrived back in camp at 5:10. 

Sauntiere Lac Vierge

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In the morning we set out for a hike to Lac Vierge on the north side of Lac Normand. We walked through the campground and down by a great playground ship that is built like an old sailing ship, then down to the beach. At the end of the beach, the trail begins and is nicely marked with a map. Following our pacesetter, Martha, I took pictures then scrambled to catch up. She isn’t particularly fast, but she never stops. Like the Energizer bunny, she just keeps going. She is pretty good at finding her way and knowing where she is, but I always bring a trail GPS. It comes in handy whenever there is a question of where you are, how far you are from somewhere or if you are headed in the right direction. I am still learning how to use the device (a Garmin GPSmap 62stc). 

This is another beautiful trail, and the park does a great job of marking the trails and yet you feel you are in the wilds. There is no better way to become familiar with this park than to walk it. This forrest is just stunning! Following the Energizer Bunny, I took pictures then tried to catch up. There is a beautiful view of the lake at the top. Along the descent, there is a series of three ladders and the middle one is broken. This is a new one for me, as I have never climbed down a ladder on a hike. Martha thought it was very cool. Then where do I put this dangling camera around my neck? I didn’t want to step on that broken part, but on further inspection realized it was wedged against the rock wall. This is another fantastic hike! We didn’t take the whole loop, but when we got back to the beach, three hours had past and we were spent. We ate our lunch there, and I would have taken a swim if I had a bathing suit. Martha waded a bit. Back at camp, Martha discovered blueberry bushes right in the campsite and was picking a bunch when I returned from the shower.