60℉ at 5:00 am and high of 77
Pointe-Taillon National Park is a peninsula jutting into Lac Saint-Jean and bordered on the north by the Peribonka River. There are no cars allowed in the park, but is set up best for bikes. My pictures don’t do it justice, as it is an incredibly beautiful park. We had a good wildlife-viewing day, seeing a Ruffed Grouse, Willow Ptarmigans, red squirrels, what I think were Flickers and our first sighting of a moose. It is a bit more difficult taking pictures while biking. I took a lot with the iPhone because it was faster and easier, but they don’t do the park justice. My friend, Mark Zablotsky, takes incredible pictures with his iPhone, but I haven’t gained the skill. I carry the Nikon with only one lens in a backpack, so you have to stop and remove the backpack, snap a few pictures, put it all back together and try to catch up with Martha.
The Beaches are popular and beautiful, and we were looking hard for wildlife, although we biked between 11:00 and 3:30 – not good wildlife spotting time. There were tracks all over the roads. I guess they were moose, but they looked smaller than that. It would be so much fun to come back in the early morning or late evening and sit at one of the picnic tables and watch for moose. There is one moose bog with a big, camouflaged and screened blind. There is a huge moose bog close to the entrance. However, the center of attraction are the trees and ferns. The stands of Beech and Birch trees surrounded by a floor of three-foot tall ferns are just magnificent. You could ride the main loop of 25km in two hours as it is flat and easy going. However, if you go fast you will miss the beauty. It is more of a place to take all day, or camp and take a few days. It was almost hot enough to go for a swim, but the wind was blowing and it was 75 degrees, so it wasn’t quite warm enough.
On a slight uphill, I pointed out a snake, a garter snake, to Martha. A couple of bikers came in the other direction, and she somehow jammed the bike chain down below the sprockets. It took a while to see what the problem was, but we couldn’t unjam it. Of course we were at the opposite side of the park from the truck. We pulled on the chain and tried to move the wheel back and forth to no avail. I had two tools in my bike bag, and after working for half an hour, was finally able to pry the two jammed links from their wedged position. Fortunately Martha had a wipe in her backpack to clean the chain grease from my hands. Maybe it was providence that made us stop. We suddenly saw that we were surrounded by perfect blueberries – everywhere! Emptying one water bottle into another, we filled it with blueberries in 15 minutes. You pay $10 for two quarts of blueberries. Picking these, we realized this is a good price, but then there is something to picking wild, fresh fruits. Later, Martha would make desert of Greek yogurt, blueberries and honey – yum!
Now we felt we needed to ride with more pace. I kept seeing things I wanted to take pictures of, but couldn’t. We came upon a ptarmigan that stood like a statue beside the road while I took pictures. As I rode away, I thought surely someone has carved this decoy and left a camera to video people like us taking pictures of it. Then we came across two more. They let me get just a few feet away and kept right on eating!
This is a wonderful park that could be explored many times in all seasons. I can only imagine it when the leaves change.