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Archive for July 9th, 2010

After visiting Reford Gardens, we left the south shore of the St. Lawrence and drove inland along Highway 299. Within minutes, we were driving through mountains. The road oscillated up and down as we passed through gorgeous rugged terrain, crisscrossed with rivers.

Soon we reached the boundary of Parc National de la Gaspésie, which embrasses the Chic-Chocs and McGerrigle Mountains. Among them, Mont Jacques Cartier is the second highest peak in Québec, but it’s off the main road. The park features a 150-kilometre network of trails that form part of the International Appalachian Trail, but we didn’t take time to do any hiking. Instead, we settled for a visit to the Discovery and Visitors Centre, which is located across from Mount Albert.

The observation platform outside the visitor centre offers a good view of the mountain. It has an unusual plateau at its peak, and to the right you can see a patch of white snow, sighted on June 27th.

We returned to our car and followed the road in a wide arc that finally brought us out, many mountains later, at the town of Gaspé, on the coast. We had some lunch in town, and then headed over to nearby Forillon National Park. Forillon also offers some pretty spectacular hiking. We didn’t have a great deal of time, but decided to do one of the shorter but more challenging trails that leads to an observation platform high up on the cliff top.

The trails at Forillon are also part of the International Appalachian Trail. The IAT follows the spine of the Appalachian Mountains from Mount Katahdin in Maine to Crow Head in Newfoundland/Labrador, a 1900 mile journey.

After leaving the parking lot, the trail begins to climb almost immediately. Here and there, you can see your goal looming above you.

While you stop to take a breather, you can enjoy the scenery.

Then it’s back to climbing. We walked and walked and climbed and climbed.

Finally, we neared the top edge of the cliff, where the trail leveled off. What remained was a more level hike across to the observation tower. Here’s the view from the top of the trail. See the parking lot, waaaaaaay down there?

Then we felt a few drops of rain. While we were hiking, we hadn’t noticed the clouds moving in. Should we continue our hike? Should we head back down? A loud clap of thunder decided us. We headed back. Quickly. But we were not fast enough. Although there was no more thunder or lightening, the sky opened up and rain poured down. By the time we got back to the parking lot, we were drenched to the skin. Fortunately, we had a whole suitcase of dry clothes with us! We were able to change in the visitor’s centre and climb back into the car, relatively dry. By the time we left the park, the storm had passed and the sun was shining again.

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