“Writing in a journal each day allows you to direct your focus to what you accomplished, what you’re grateful for and what you’re committed to doing better tomorrow.” -Hal Elrod
I kept a journal every day and shared it as blog posts. I decided to include them here for people that were not subscribed or are big readers and want to go through it once more. Enjoy!
Day 1 ~ Distance: 33km, Climb: 800m, Cumulative: 33km I chose this trail with everything going on with COVID (even inter-provincial borders are closed, so don’t even think internationally). To have gone through that part of Québec a few times. I knew this long hike was going to be wild and beautiful. I woke up around 5am and drove* 7h to Matapedia. I started hiking by midday and pushed it till sunset. First day back on the trail! Feels good to be out in nature. In some places, the trail was confusing and hard to find, I had to pay extra attention. I found and took a quick shortcut. The best part? I haven’t seen a single person on the trail. Found a nice campsite beside the river.
* Huge thx to the family member that brought me to the trailhead.
Day 2 ~ Distance: 47km, Climb: 1080m, Cumulative: 80km Oh, I feel my leg today. These last few stay-at-home months (because of the pandemic) made me lose quite a bit of shape. I trained, but apparently not enough... The next few days will be rough. I started the day following the Assemetquagan River and I ended up crossing it a little further. This river is the only (real size river) I will be crossing on this trip. After this, it is only creeks. I was glad to find the river shallow. It was slightly above knee-deep. By early afternoon I was out of the woods following forestry and farm roads to Causapscal, where I bought a few things at the grocery store. I pushed it 5km further to be out of the town, to camp.
Day 3 ~ Distance: 35km, Climb: 250m, Cumulative: 115km A chilly morning, it dropped close to freezing overnight. Rough day, I was sore and started developing pain in the nerve behind my left knee. So I took a slower day and did some small side trips like a waterfall and a viewpoint. I took a shortcut with a dirt road. The actual trail makes a weird detour on that part of the map. I camped early to give my knee some extra recovery time.
Day 4 ~ Distance: 29km, Climb: 240m, Cumulative: 144km My knee was worst today, so I took it easy. I had a hard time lifting it 30cm off the ground. I went slow. Luckily, it was an easy day, mostly flat and on gravel roads. Not sure how’s that knee going to hold up when the real mountains start. I had woodpeckers encouraging me. I heard their knocks at least half a dozen times over the day. Went through Amqui and its countryside. It got quite buggy when I set up camp (mosquitoes and sand flies, both!).
Day 5 ~ Distance: 30km, Climb: 550m, Cumulative: 174km I made a judgment call while walking into Saint-Vianney. My knee keeps getting worse. If it keeps going like that, I won’t be able to do the upcoming section. It is 250km long, with no food and limited cellphone reception. It is also the hardest part of the trail, trail-wise and elevation-wise. Right now, I barely do 30km on easy dirt road walking, so expecting maybe 20km with my knee and the upcoming section that would result in 15 days worth of food that I would need to carry (I first planned 6-7). Even if I could carry that much food, which I can’t (I would need a bigger backpack). That added weight would but even more stress on my knee. So instead of dropping my hike (I don’t want to give up so easily). I decided to skip that section and will come back to it when my knee is all good. I ended up hitchhiking to the visitor office of the Parc de la Gaspésie. It took me 4 rides* and about 5h. Once I got there, I paid my fees for two days and unfortunately learned that the trail and peak where I was supposed to go is close. My luck! My option was to walk on an unbusy gravel road for about the same distance (which I did). I met a moose on the way. We stared at each other and even walked the same road for a little while. The day was hot, like 35 degrees hot! I sweated like crazy and had to force myself to eat (I don’t have much appetite when it’s that hot). I found a nice campsite where I heard the calls of a moose and the background noise of a creek as I’m falling asleep. *A big thx to my 4 rides (to have put up with my stinky smell). One of these rides stood out. Diane was lucky in her bad luck. The night before she hit a moose and wrecked the whole side of her car. She got lucky because if she would have hit the moose a second or two later. It would have been directly and she would probably not have survived. The bad luck side is that her wreck car was only 1 month old. It was basically brand new! She told me she wanted to pass on the luck she had by picking me up. Thx Diane, I will surely pass it forward!
Day 6~ Distance: 36km, Climb: 500m, Cumulative: 210km Today was another hot day, you know when it’s not even 7am and already hot?!? Funny I saw later on my phone a heatwave warning for the week, recommending to stay inside with A/C, avoiding exercise, and drinking lots of water... Tell me about it! Le Parc de la Gaspésie must have been the place in my life I have seen the most moose track, they are just everywhere. I met the trail after about 10km on the same dirt road I walk on yesterday (the detour). I pushed it until my knee asked me to stop. I was lucky enough to find a lovely campsite beside a river where I could cool off.
Day 7~ Distance: 34km, Climb: 1000m, Cumulative: 244km I walked the few kilometres into town, excited to have some jus and fruits for breakfast. Sadly the grocery store was closed for another hour. These small villages live at a different pace. So I pushed on, had a few nice views over the coast and cliffy mountains. I met 2 other small towns over the course of the day, where a bought cold drinks to fight the heatwave. I must have drunk over 8 litres today. Got charged by a Perdix, she was protecting her babies. I saw them last minute and the protective mother charged me. I had to put my hiking poles in front of me to prevent her from biting me. Found a nice campsite close to a creek where I could wash in cold water, a joy! I have a few blisters on the bald of my foot, this is very unusual for me, I normally have them on my toes. I think the pain in my knee has slightly changed my way of walking.
Day 8 ~ Distance: 44km, Climb: 850m, Cumulative: 288km I followed the same dirt road I camped on yesterday until Manche d’Épée. From there the trail head inland for a while, I decided to stay on the coast (Pro: Views, Con: On a road). I experienced the friendliness of the gaspésiens (locals); someone came out of his own house to offer me an egg sandwich he just made. My plan was to stay in a motel in Sainte-Madeleine-de-la-rivière-Madeleine. Unfortunately, it was close. So I decided to push it to Grande-Vallée at a campground there (what a filty man is ready to do for a shower). It ended up being a long day, my knee was kind to me today, that’s why I managed that far. The campground I stayed at is right on a the coast, a nice spot! Broke my week-long-streak without a shower (something that was due!), could do laundry as well, and charge my stuff... a real treat!! I’m a happy camper has they say.
Day 9 ~ Distance: 42km, Climb: 920m, Cumulative: 330km Woke up to the sound of the rain, it rained all morning. I had a break in the afternoon. The rain started again 20min after I set up my shelter, lucky me. The day was nice! I don’t mind rain after such hot days. When I started, the trail was right at the shore. Afterwards, it went inland to some wind turbines. I passed a milestone today, I have less than 100km to go. It's my second day above 40km, my knee seems to be getting the hang of it. It still hurts, but at least it stopped increasing.
Day 10 ~ Distance: 42km, Climb: 860m, Cumulative: 372km I had a nice stretch again along the shore. Once I reached L’Anse-à-Valleau, I left the sea to head inland. The next time I will touch the ocean, it will be the end of this trip. At some point, I could see a thunderstorm coming my way, it got literally above my head. You know when the lightning and the sound is almost simultaneously. I had downpour for about 2h. Once I camped, the sun came out so I could dry some of my stuff. Now, I have to start slowing down. I only have to cover about 45km in 2 days. Since my ride back is coming in 2 days. Today was really buggy though, like "cover-up-to-stay-sane" buggy.
Day 11 ~ Distance: 28km, Climb: 780m, Cumulative: 400km Yesterday night something happened to me that I have never experienced in my hundreds of nights out. My shelter collapsed on me... I got to say I brought it on myself, didn’t choose a sheltered camp spot and only put my tent stakes 2/3 in (not all the way). I paid the price of my laziness. I got awoken around midnight because the wind picked up, and it was crazy. From the sound of the leaves, I thought I camped beside a 40m high waterfall. For one moment to the next, pouf! I was looking at the stars! 2 stakes got pulled out because of a wind gust. Luckily it wasn’t pouring or stormy. I had a good laugh. I enjoyed the stars and decided to cowboy camp for the rest of the night. Some fireflies even joined the party. It was a short day today, I set up camp by noon! I’m only 19km away from the finish line, and my ride is supposed to arrive late tomorrow, so I got to leave myself some walking for tomorrow. I entered Forillon National Park and followed Le Sentier des Lacs. (The lakes trail) which stays high up and go beside lots of mountain lakes, with views over bays and sea. It was quite enjoyable.
Day 12 ~ Distance: 19km, Climb: 480m, Cumulative: 419km Woke up at 4am and couldn’t fall asleep again, so I was on the trail by 4:30am. I had a nice sunrise. The trail (Le Sentier des Crêtes) was really nice, walking along a ridge with a few view points on both sides. I started descending towards my finish line. Had a nice view over Forillon from a platform. Shortly after, I made it to the lighthouse. It's what they call "le bout du monde" (the world’s end) and it really feels like this (a cliff diving right into the sea). I enjoyed the location without a soul around. This is the finish line of this trip. I will do my missing section sometime over the next months. For now, I keep walking... I still have about 15km to walk to the meeting point for my ride back*.
*Another thank you to the family member that gave me a ride.
Day 13 ~ Distance: 39km, Climb: 1580m, Cumulative: 458km Got dropped (around midday), where I got picked up 2 months ago*. I pushed hard until late evening. I was just too excited to be back on the trail. I took a shortcut using a dirt road (it saved me 5km). The trail followed some nice ridges. Even if they were not fully exposed, you still had a few viewpoints. My last kilometres were done with a headlamp. When I arrived at Lac Matane, I was too tired to find a nice camp. I ended up camping 40m off a road. I should probably have stopped before, but my excitement and love for nature got the better part of me.
*Big thanks for the family members that brought me where I left off.
Day 14 ~ Distance: 37km, Climb: 450m, Cumulative: 495km The morning was cloudy and rainy. The clouds were so low that we couldn't see much of the mountains. It was supposed to be like this all day. I decided to follow a quiet dirt road to avoid a pointless climb in the clouds. It made my day a lot easier, saved 8km and about 2000m of elevation gain. I camped very close to a beautiful waterfall. I could hear the sound as I was falling asleep.
Day 15 ~ Distance: 35km, Climb: 1200m, Cumulative: 530km I woke up around 1am when downpours started. I managed to fall back asleep. When I woke up, the rain was still heavy. I packed up camp quickly and got moving. It rained nonstop for most of the day. Luckily I started the day with a 1000m climb, so staying warm wasn’t an issue. It got chilly in some of the exposed ridges. The wind was strong, and the visibility minimal. It’s a shame it was so stormy. I’m sure this part of the trail would have been beautiful. I made it to Mount Logan (1150m), the second-highest point on this trail. When I updated my weather app on the summit (thanks to the 1bar), it was supposed to snow up to 11cm. I descended in the valley for the rest of the day. Since the clouds were low, I decided to go for an alternative (the winter trail), which stays in the valley instead of climbing back up. It added 2km but avoided some pointless climb.
Day 16 ~ Distance: 30km, Climb: 1250m, Cumulative: 560km The morning was chilly (1 degree above freezing). My clothes were still wet from the heavy rain of yesterday. It took some will to put them on (I should have filmed my facial expression. I’m sure it would have been funny to rewatch). I haven’t seen a soul in the last 24h. Suddenly today, I met a bunch of people all around the same hike. I guess it is a famous day hike? When I saw the view, I understood! I was expecting another stormy day, but luckily, It was enjoyable. Still quite windy in the exposed sections, but the clouds were high enough to allow me to embrace beautiful scenery with my eyes. I camped early since another storm was about to hit. From this point on, it’s only 16km to the end of this trip. I still have 72h before getting picked up.
Day 17 ~ Distance: 16km, Climb: 350m, Cumulative: 576km What a stormy overnight! The wind and the rain were so loud it took me hours to fall asleep. What a joy though, to be all warm and dry while hearing the storm raging outside. It was still stormy when I woke up, so I fell back asleep. Two hours later, it seemed ok in the valley, but let’s see when I'm above the tree line. It was a short climb to the plateau of Mount Albert. The weather up there was quite rough. The wind was strong (70-80km/h gust). It literally moved me. The rain was not going down vertically or diagonally but horizontal. Kinda funny... Even with the storm that part of the trail was nice. I always enjoy alpine travel. Sadly, this trip did not have much of it. After I crossed the plateau, I descended about 750m into the valley towards my finishing line. Once I reached the tree line, I was happy to have a break from the freezing wind and rain. I arrived shortly after midday at the discovery centre (where I got dropped off about 9 weeks ago). So this is what truly closes this trip. It was unfortunate that I had lots of rain in some of the best parts of the trail. I will probably do it again at some point to try to have a taste of the scenery I might have missed. If you decide to go before me, send me pictures so I can see what I missed.
Bonus Day Haha got you! You thought the adventure ended here. Yes, theoretically, but since I have another full day before getting picked up. I decided to climb Mount Jacques-Cartier (the highest peak of Gaspésie). When I was here 9 weeks ago, I was supposed to climb it. Unfortunately, the trail was close at that time. I decided to do it as a day hike and see what I have missed. The morning was cold, windy, and cloudy. Luckily it cleared up after waiting a bit at the summit. I let you enjoy the view!