"THE" Hike--Parc de la Gaspesie 1999       Picasa Photo Album

It seems to be a general consensus that this may have been the highlight event of the past eight years.

Quote of the week was by Fireball-"We must be hikers, no one has complained about their packs being too heavy."

Arriving from various parts of the Maritimes, Sungod, Dipper, VIKING, Maidenform(to become Helga), Fireball, Dunker(to become the STALKER), and the Camerons(to become Popeye and Olive Oyl) met for breakfast at MacD's at Magnetic Hill, NB on Sunday, September 12 to begin their journey into the Quebec Wilderness.

The first plus, upon our arrival at the Mont Albert main complex, was to find our base camp refuge(hut) had electricity and a toilet building with showers and sit down flush.

We had a chance to visit the Interpretation Center which had a 3 dimensional relief of the 100+ km backpacking, mountain/tableland/woodland trails we would be carrying our 30lb packs over the next 6 days. Steaks, fresh veggies, and canned food was the menu for the evening meal, knowing we would not be carrying this type of heavy food for the next week--Can anyone say pasta/beans/rice without throwing up?

Monday-(10kms)-We were ferried to the north east end of the parc to the base of the 4200 foot Mont Jacques Cartier in a school bus($10, 45 minutes) where we begin our trek around 10:15 under lovely warm, sunny skies. At about 1 km from the summit, after a less than difficult climb on a great trail, we were blessed with our first view of a caribou, what turned out to be a young, antler-less bull. After the rest had gone onto the summit shelter, a second, more mature bull, came onto the scene and gave myself and Dipper a little territory battle, with at least one banging of the heads. After seeing a third, a cow, we went down a side trail (Le Caribou) to see a family of at least 6 more. WOW

Now about 1 hour behind the rest, partially from my slower pace(Aerobic condition will never be the same since I haven't "run" now for 5 years) and partially from Dipper's theory-"You don't want to get to camp before 4:00pm, but never after 5:00." we arrived at the summit to eat lunch as the others almost ready to move on.

The hike down the other side of Cartier was much tougher footing, being basically a bunch of large, end table size rocks, the trail being only cairn piles to follow. As we were coming off the steep part, and arriving into the woods, we saw a big cow and the a large bull on the trail, in our way, so we didn't feel guilty walking towards them since they were in our way. After they disappeared in the bush and we walked through the krumholtz, there they were again--40 meters away in a nice grassy field. I walked within 15 meters and just sat there watching him as he watched me. Over the next 20 minutes we we blessed again with a family of at least 8 caribou, including a massive bull with a massive white neck. After they wondered off we lay in the

grass/blueberries/cranberries watching two(three?) caribou in a distant field by a lake, hummed the hills are alive with the sights of caribou, and actually had a little nap. Oh, well onto the Tetras, our wilderness refuge. A couple kms through the woods, there it was: a large wooden shell of a building, wood stove, 8 bunk beds, tables and chairs---and the worst, stinky, obnoxious, dirty, pit toilet you could imagine.

We sat on the deck overlooking the small lake, eating our pasta/rice(the thrill had yet to wear off) and then had a nice bonfire and to bed around 8:00. (bedtimes would become earlier)

Tuesday:(15kms):After climbing around Mont Xalibu, we took a side trek to look straight down into Lac Americains basin. Absolutely magnificent, also the views off towards Mont Albert and where we will be going over the next 5 days. The comments such as this is the best mountain view I have ever seen would be repeated over and over again during the week. "It never necessarily got better, the best just never stopped."

After a fairly steep couple of kms down to the Lac Americains, the final 8 kms back to basecamp (showers) was a highway of a trail.

Getting back by noon(15kms) most of the group went into Saint Anne des Monts for a little civilization Dipper and the Sungod decided an afternoon 12 km hike(slack pack) up Mont Richardson/Mont Joseph Fortin was the order of the day. The trail itself was a wide ATV accessible trail, with a fairly steep and steady 6 kms straight up. The view from Joseph Fortin was a mirror image of the view we had that morning into Lac Americain basin from the other side-Really magical, probably my favourite of the trip.

That night back at basecamp, Dunker became known for evermore as the STALKER. You can ask him.

Wednesday(16kms) We were whisked away to the far west end of the Parc to the base of 3800 foot Mont Logan by a van and a truck, a 3 hour drive through various logging company roads. Along the ride we saw a Buze, a local, seldom seen eagle-Our drivers were excited and so were we. As we were deposited at the trail head and the vehicles left, Olive Oyl was heard to say"We're in the middle of nowhere, aren't we?" Basecamp was 75+kms away.

We hike up a fairly vehicle passable road to the peak of Logan, magnificent views all around-saw 2 caribou. The first 8 kms were easy road hiking, going mostly down. We past a couple huts we weren't staying in, saw "large" fresh bear prints in the mud.

During the fairly steady climb over Mont des Loupes we saw a boreal chicadee and the beginning of numerous grouse and partridge sightings. Popeye noted that if he ever heard anyone say they were going grouse hunting in Quebec he would laugh. Hunt certainly was not necessary. Over the 4 days we must have seen at least 25-30. The last 6 km took Dipper and me, mostly me, 2.5 hours.

Our stay at La Courage looked over Lac Choc, Lac Chic was out there somewhere. The Cameron's meal of canned corned beef, mashed potatoes, fresh peppers, and mushrooms paled the rest of our delicious forms of pasta!!!!!.

Olive and I had developed pretty good Achilles blisters.

Bonfire, and to bed at 7:30-a trend has begun.

Thursday (19kms) On the trail at 7:00am. I like Dipper's breakfast routine-simplistic. I am starting to follow it. Boil water, one cup for coffee/tea, one cup for oatmeal, rest of water to wash face and clean dishes.(not same water). Pack your gear and away you go.

Seemed like forever around and up Mont Jacques Ferron. Then found 500+ meter climb up Mont Ellen and then 200m up Mont du Blizzard very tough-moving around 2km per hour.

Dipper and I took 600m side trail to Pic de l'Aube great payback. One of the best (of the many best) views of the week looking north east towards Cartier etc. Looking down we saw what we think to be another Buze.

Enroute we also saw a few Grey Jays and a grouse of some sort that looked like a lot like a turkey-a bowling ball Dipper said with a head and tail. We have pictures.

La Mesange was a different shape with each set of bunks seeming private from other 3 sets. Architectural marvel. The animals are used to people-We fed grey jays from our hand and that night the mice fed themselves on the peanuts in our GORP.

There was a beautiful rainbow and what appeared to be a "second" sun. Illusion!!

Played Humzinger-Greg trying to hum "I can't get no........... a hoot.

I got up at 2:00am to have a whiz and as I stood in the field it started to rain---Oh Oh.

Friday(22kms)On the trail at 6:30am, raining pretty good, hiking up and over what would be the tremendous views of the Pic du Brule-All we saw was thick fog, felt high wind and rain and in general were getting pretty cold and miserable. Arrived at Lac Cascapedia (14kms) at 10:30am to find all buildings locked for the season. We built a fire outside to try to get warm. Had stopped raining (for now).

We still had 8 kms to go, straight up a tough 700m over Mont Ells and then what was thought could be a fairly open, exposed hike to our next hut La Paruline. At the speed I was moving I didn't think it a good idea to jeopardize the others and decided to hitch a ride back to basecamp, Olive, feeling very chilled decided to accompany me, along with Helga. After concerns of breaking up the team and a few other chilled bodies, the other five headed up the Mountain and we headed to basecamp-and showers and clean toilet :-)

By 4:30 it was raining very hard, and the wind was really blowing. We assumed the others had made the hut. (they arrived by 2:30). It rained all night.

Dipper, Fireball, and Popeye had a swim at the top; the water wasn't that cold, as it wasn't all week, but there was horizontal rain and the air temperature was "cold"

We had a mixed supper of beans, scalloped potatoes, pepperoni, and Vegetable soup.

Met a female from France who was hitching around the province and a man, also from France, doing a Masters in Economics, who never seemed to be dry or organized. But he didn't care-had no place to stay that night but said it didn't matter he had a tent--He didn't seem to care we were in the middle of a high energy storm.

Saturday: We didn't get "up" until 7:30, had Olive Oyl's scrambled eggs. Helga and Olive decided to do the 17km hike up 3500 foot Mont Albert, returning via La Vallee. I decided to hike the 6km up La Vallee, meeting the guys at LacDiable.

They left the hut (19km)around 6:45am in "very cold" fog and "very high" winds over the tableland tundra. Had to keep moving hard to keep body temperatures up.

When I met the guys on the trail all they could talk about was the waterfalls and the views down La Vallee. The best EVER! By far the best EVER.

We were all back and tucked into our base hut by mid afternoon, drinking Pepsi, Coke, beer, and eating large bags of chips.

That evening, leaving Dipper to his beer, chips, and radio, we went into Saint Anne des Monts for a restaurant FISH dinner.

Sunday morning found a GONZO start at 6:30 am, breakfast at Point aux Choice (Campbellton) and home by 3:30. Except VIKING's ship who made a 2 hour side diversion to check out a canoe on the other side of Saint John-He is now the proud owner of a Gillies, 18 foot, 35 pound, Kevlar, stock racing canoe. Look out Kenduskaeg.

To give you an idea how beautiful the views were I posed the question to all of what was their favourite, the view down La Vallee got Fireballs, VIKINGs, and Helgas vote and the other 5 all had different choices-Waterfall at top of La Vallee(Popeye), Mont Ellen(Dipper), hut on Logan(Stalker), tabletop meadowlands (Olive Oyl) and mine was the view off Xalibu--maybe because it was our first outstanding view.

Most said they planned on coming back sometime over the next few years, but one decision was definite.

Mont Richardson, or possibly Mont Albert loop, will be sight of our next exotic night hike to take place sometime next year.


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