Day: October 1, 2016

Driving to Gaspè

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30℉ at 6:00 with a high of 72

We packed up and headed out to Gaspè by 9:30. Martha had read about a few things she wanted to see along the way. We have no cell service here, and I can’t connect to Sepaq’s (the parks) WIFI, so we aren’t sure where we will camp, or how long it takes to get there. We would just have to figure it out on the way. 

This is a beautiful highway to drive, right along the St. Lawrence, which is now the Bay of St. Lawrence. You can no longer see the other side. Pretty little villages are in every cove, each with its picnic area and walkways. It was a beautiful day with clear blue sky and ocean. We were amazed with some of the tiny houses sitting on a cliff overlooking the ocean, usually with two Adirondack chairs and a fireplace strategically positioned. Fishing, tourism and logging are the main jobs.

The last hour and a half of the four-hour drive was up and down steep mountains, then back down, always with big curves and a village at the bottom. It’s a bit stressful wondering how the truck will hold up, watching all the gauges and praying for the brakes to continue working. By the time we stopped for gas near the end of the trip, I talked to a nice dump truck driver while we both filled our tanks. He commented that Virginia is a long way away. I said it must be tough driving these difficult hill and curves, and he smiled, saying it is tough, but from here south and all around the other side, it is flat. Yippee!

We camped at Camping des Appalaches, checking in with the nice couple who own it, but they close tomorrow for the season. Fred told us things would start closing now. They told us of a good restaurant, Cafe L’Anse Griffon and two places to buy seafood. They also told us where to go in the park and the must-do hikes. 

After lunch and a quickly reading emails, we learned my sister had a fall and Laura spent a long day at the hospital with her while they ran all the tests. Apparently she is fine, but it is probably part of the disease process. So sad!

We drove to Forillon National Park, which is a Canadian National Park, not a Quebec National Park. I don’t know how they do it, but another very nice lady told us all about the park. We were happy there were available campsites, so we will move tomorrow. We drove through the campground and it is absolutely beautiful. There were two areas, one with electric and one without services. Almost everyone was in the serviced area, but the unserviced area is really pretty, with big, grassy areas. We passed a spot where a tent was set up and a roaring fire going with two chairs in front of it. They had the whole campground to themselves with a great view of the bay. Driving down toward the tip of the Gaspè Penninsula in the park, there is an incredible viewing area where the International Appalachian Trail comes to an end, the mountains meeting the sea in dramatic fashion. We were both excited about exploring the park. On the way back to camp we stopped at the Cafe L’Anse Griffon for a great dinner of grilled cod. It was a good day, but felt a bit guilty with the day Laura and Gayle had.

Hike Le mont Ernest-Laforce

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29℉ at 6:00 and 60℉ at 3:00

It was a bit chilly when we started out hiking le mont Ernest Laforce, but soon after starting the climb, I started peeling off layers. It is all a graveled path, so it’s not so bad. At the top is a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains, two of which have snow on them. We talked with a young man, Guilliam, who has been hiking for a week, doing day hikes to see if he would like to take a long-distance hike. The longer hikes have huts with beds and mattresses and a wood stove. He was lucky to see eight Caribou on Mont Jaques Cartier, as there are only 80 on the south side of the St. Lawrence. He is a long distance truck driver and talked of the beauty west of Colorado. Today was an easy day for him – just an easy hike with no backpack. It was fun to exchange adventures with Guilliam.

After making our way back down, we visited the Gite du Mont Albert, a beautiful hotel with cute little cabins behind. Then we had a picnic lunch beside the beautiful Sainte-Anne’s River. We drove up Rt 14 through the Faunique, but it was a rough road, and some of it was washed out. It is also hunting season. 

We spent a nice evening by the fire listening to some James Taylor and grilling a steak. A gentleman stopped by and talked about camping here in the 70’s when there was no park. He hiked Mont Jaques Cartier with a man who would eventually turn this into a park. Once he fished for salmon for five days, finally catching two fish. 

It was still early when we climbed into bed with books. I thought of being young and hiking the Grand Traverse, a trail that goes across the park, carrying a big backpack. That would be quite a hike!

Drive to Parc National de la Gaspésie

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39℉ at 6:00 am, high 56

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

There was a beautiful sunrise over the bay at Bic National Park. After a few chores, we set out east on #132 to Parc National DE LA Gaspésie. This road is a good one, much better than I anticipated, and it often travels right on the coast of the St. Lawrence. Dotted with cute, little cottages overlooking the Fleuve. Some parts are flat while others are cliffs or rocky coast. It was a beautiful day and the water was clear and blue. There are many beautiful coastal drives in the world, but this one is one of the prettiest I have ever seen. Were we not pulling a trailer and trying to get somewhere, I might have stopped many times for pictures. 

We found a pretty park to stop for lunch in La Halte Cap-Chat. It was about 50℉ with the ever-present cool wind off the St. Lawrence, so we ate inside. On the other side of the highway, the Chic-Choc Mountains loomed in the distance. Stopping at Sainte-Anne-Des-Monts, we filled the truck with gas and picked up some groceries at the Metro. Good thing we did because it’s a pretty good drive into the park, which covers a huge area with two Fauniques on either end. This is a park for hiking the mountains. It is the end of the Appalachian Range and the International Appalachian Trail goes through the park, ending on the coast. I never knew it went this far. The Rivière Sainte-Anne runs through the park, where Atlantic salmon run, and it is a gorgeous river.

We checked in at the Discovery Center with a very nice lady, who once again, patiently advised us where to go and what to see while we are here. Mont Jaques-Cartier is the second highest in Quebec at 1270 m, from which there must be a great view. After getting settled, we opted for an easy hike to Lac Aux Americaines, which was very pretty, looking more like a lake in the Rockies. Returning to camp, we made a fire and grilled a salmon fillet and potatoes, onions and mushrooms in foil. 

Haircut and a Great Waterfall

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39℉ at 6:00, a rainy morning, 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

It rained hard all morning, so we read our books and made cranberry muffins from the Trappist Monks. By 11:00 we were stir-crazy and the rain was letting up, so we drove east to Rimouski so Martha could get a haircut. The ladies at the Accquiel suggested the best place to go. Fortunately they were able to take her in after a short wait. I went to a nearby oeufs place hoping for WIFI and an expresso. I got a nice expresso, but no WIFI. When Martha was done, her nice stylist, Suzie, recommended Maison du Spaghetti for lunch, so we went. I ordered pasta with meatballs and mushrooms and Martha ordered Lasagna with goat cheese and sun dried tomatoes. Both were outstanding, and they had WIFI. 

I had seen a waterfall writeup in the Gaspèsie travel book, so we decided to go there. We found the accquiel and a nice girl gave us the description and a map. There was a fee of $13 each, and as they are privately run, they don’t take a park pass. We were surprised by the amount of work and expense someone went to. With walkways all along the Rimouski River, it is quite beautiful. Then you get to the highest suspension foot-bridge in Quebec at 63 meters. This thing is so well-made, I could probably drive my truck across it. 

This is a beautiful river and a beautiful canyon that is well-managed. You can come at night to see lights on the waterfall. All of the walkways are lit. It is called Le Canyon des Portes de L’Enfer, Canyon to the gates of Hell, which it surely would be if you decided to take your kayak down it. There may be more waterfalls than cities named after saints in Quebec, but this is a great one.

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