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Gaspé North, Part I

Mt. Jacques Cartier


September 7, 1999

Today was supposed to be a "non-driving" day, but it took a half hour to get to Parc Gaspésie, and another 45 minutes to get to Mt. Jacques Cartier, our destination for the day. Jacques Cartier was touted as the tallest peak in southern Quebec, a boast that's always a magnet for us. We had to get to the top somehow.

Being used to the U.S. where's there's an eatery of some sort on every corner, we headed for Jacques Cartier figuring we'd eat lunch at the lodge, then hike to the peak. Hah! What lodge?? There wasn't a soul in sight, let alone any type of eating establishment! Fortunately, we had a bag of raisins, a box of chocolate cookies, some juice, and a bottle of water we'd been carting around in the car, so we bundled that into a backpack and headed out. The hike was four kilometers, round trip, and was classified as "intermediate." Again, hah! The rather steep incline was covered with small to large boulders that had to be negotiated carefully, with one's head down, in a rather dense fog. Once we got to the top of the mountain above the tree line, we were exposed to 20–50 mph winds that provided interesting resistance to the forward motion. We were supposed to see reindeer out on the tundra up there, but they were either somewhere else, or hiding in the fog laughing at us. What made this hike even more interesting, was that we had to complete the entire hike and get back down to the bottom in two hours due to restrictions on the number of hours people are allowed on the mountain (to protect the wildlife). Once we got to the top, we had time to look around briefly, admire what little we could actually see, and hide out in the rest station tower from the wind long enough to cram down some raisins and cookies and drink some juice before careening headlong back down the mountain to make the deadline for the last bus down the rest of the mountain to our car.

Along the way, we ran into some interesting folks to talk to: a couple who seemed to have the same itinerary as us—we had chatted with them at the ferry and at the gardens—and an interesting geology professor from Montreal who came up to Jacques Cartier on a regular basis with students or by himself.

Being tired from our forced march up and down the mountain, we weren't even out of the park when we spotted what looked like a very nice place to land early for the night—the Gite du Mont Albert. It was quite luxurious by the standards we had set for this trip, so we decided to pamper ourselves this one time. We got the package deal, which included dinner (an elegant French affair with quail and partridge) and a full breakfast the next morning. We took the room sight unseen. When we found our room, it was as luxurious the outside TV! Oh well, we thought, even though it was early, we were tired anyway. We wouldn't be tempted to stay up late watching movies, and we'd get a good night's sleep. Hah! About 3 a.m., we awoke to a very loud rumbling outside that increased as the dawn approached. Unfortunately we hadn't seen the little sign with the truck on it located on the curve of the road just before the hotel. We had landed on the mountain logging route. The loggers started their day early, and so did we. No wonder no TV!


Tundra on Mt. Jacques Cartier





Gite du Mont Albert




Mont Albert trucking route


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