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Quebec is a province we saw twice. Part 1 details the Quebec portion (the Gaspe and along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River) of a large loop involving Quebec, Labrador, Newfoundland Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. we again found ourselves in Quebec. This time we were in the Lac Saint-Jean region of the province. It is the subject of Part 2 below.
Part 1: June 8 - June 16, 2003
June 8, 2003:
We crossed over into the Gaspe region of Quebec under clouds and showers and headed up to the north side of the Gaspe along Highway 132.
The start of the road is beautiful as it follows a fast flowing river, winding along a steep sided valley covered in the multi-coloured
greens of the various trees. We hit the north side of the Gaspe and drove east from there to Parc Quebecois de la Gaspesie. Expectations are always dangerous in that you tend to be left disappointed when they are not meet. This was the case along Highway 132. We had expected a
remote, rugged and spell-binding trip along the coast and instead found the land to be continually populated with small communities running one
into the other. Kind of like the drive from Oshawa to Hamilton in Ontario except instead of buildings two cities deep on one side and a lake on the
other you have towns two buildings deep on one side and a large river on the other.
June 9, 2003:
We had no idea that there were mountains in the Gaspe (they also have Caribou - we didn't know that either). Real mountains with snow on top! In fact,
we were again chasing spring north
and most of the hikes were closed due to the amount of snow on the trails. We tried to hike to the top of Mount Richardson but turned
back after about 3/4s of the way due to strong wind, threatening clouds and a heavy slog through wet snow. The campground is tight,
relatively expensive but does offer a basic for the area's excellent hiking.
June 10, 2003:
Being that it was wet and rainy we used the day to drive to Forillon National Parc at the end (well almost) of the Gaspe. Here, from Ste-Anne-des-Monts east, was the rugged terrain we were looking for the last two days. The winding road takes you right along the sea in places and up
to the top of the cliffs in others. A slow but very nice drive.
June 10, 2003:
Partway along Highway 132 between Ste-Anne-des-Monts and the Forillon National Park there is a neat little town called Mont-St-Pierre that is overlooked
by a small mountain of the same name. If you have a 4x4 you can drive up it. We drove the first half and then hiked the remainder and were rewarded with excellent
views and a fun time playing in the powerful winds blowing in off the Saint Lawrence.
June 11, 2003:
We took the ferry from Matane across the St. Lawrence to Godbout and backtracked the camper to Baie Comeau where we left it with
one of the dealers I used to work with. The area from Baie Comeau to Harve-St-Pierre is an area I had visited a lot when working for Komatsu and as it was one of my favorite places in Canada I really wanted to show Carol. We spent the next few days in the area biking,
canoeing and just trucking around. We were not disappointed. It is a truly beautiful area with rough rugged country to the north and the vast St. Lawrence to the immediate south. A multitude of rivers thunder down the cliff faces on their last drop down to the sea below you. The shore alternates between massive
rock cliffs and beautiful sandy beaches. I haven't found an area yet that offers more to the outdoors person that this place. Quebecers also seem to be an active bunch and as a result, most towns have bike routes and trails, no matter how small the community. We ended up camping off the Moisie River in a run down
campground that ended up
being excellent thanks to the great people running it. They even gave us a personal tour of all the facilities!! You don't get that kind of personal touch much any more.
June 13, 2003:
June 13th was spent doing maintenance - laundry and the like. We also biked along a pleasant trail, part paved and part gravel, to Riviere des Rapides Park just outside
of town. It certainly is a beautiful area. On the 14th we drove from Sept-Iles to Harve-St-Pierre to show Carol the country-side. I had made the drive many times for work but our arrival time was typically late so it was to dark to see anything. It was so nice
to putt along and take in the spectacular scenery. Tourist season was just starting up so we couldn't reach the sea kayak guy to tour the
Archchipel-de-Mingan in Havre-St-Pierre area. On the way back, however,
we found a small overgrown access road leading to the mouths of the Romaine River and the Lechasseur Rivers. Here we put in our canoe and
paddled around the many small islands. Our route back disappeared as the tide dropped and joined two previously separated islands!
June 14, 2003:
Friday the 13th turned out to be our lucky day. When we arrived at the Reserve Fauique de Port Cartier campsite
we spotted the only white water canoe we had seen during the last three weeks. We of course took the neighbouring campsite and ended up
spending two excellent days paddling together. Martin is an excellent paddler and we ran the Riviere aux Roches together on
Saturday. On Sunday two of his friends, Lynn and Andre came out and we ran it again. It was our first white water of the
year and is was so nice to get some solid practice in with such a great group of people. Definitely one of the highlights so far!
June 16, 2003:
Highway 389 from Baie Comeau to Labrador City turned out to be another highlight (and so soon after the one!) of our Cross-Canada adventure. Although it is
partly paved, it is a slow windy road and the last bit can definitely be rough. I thought that the gravel bits would be wide and fast
like a big primary logging road but this definitely wasn't the case and we averaged around 66 km/hr over the 500+ km!
It is a fantastic trip though and well worth doing. The scenery changed in a major way at least three times - from mountains to large sandy/gravel areas - so
we always had something to look at. When we were finished we then got to vacuum pounds of dust from every nook and
cranny of our camper (which has again developed another issue - the brake wires broke)!
Having just crossed into Labrador we are well into the first big loop of this two year adventure. To follow our travels click on the Labrador link.
Part 2: July 25 - August 3, 2003
Although we had visited Quebec between June 8th and June 16th as a part of our north-eastern Quebec, Labrador and Newfoundland loop, we had left two adventures
until late July and early August so that we could do them with friends. These two trips - biking around Lac St. Jean and canoeing the Ashuapmushuan River are covered
here. Because each is a bit of an adventure in its own right we have made a separate web page for each. A brief introduction and the links for each of these pages are below.
July 25 - 29 2003, The Lac Saint-Jean Velo Route: Famous for it's blueberries (which are not really any different or more abundant than those I grew up with in Northern Ontario), the Lac St. Jean area
also has a rather neat 256 km bicycle path around the lake's entire perimeter. Always ready for an adventure, our cousins Bill and
Linda drove from Ontario in order to cycle this route with us. The path is very well set up and well worth doing. A great trip.
For a more details, click on the Lac St. Jean link.
July 31 - August 3 2003, The Ashuapmushuan River:
The Ash trip was the trip that almost never happened then 're-happened' twice. The last two years running we have planned a white-water river trip with our canoe
group but this year the trip was cancelled at the last minute due to a family emergency.
When Carol and I learned of the cancellation we were already in the area. So after some deliberation, we decided to go it alone (carefully - being that the Ash
is a big river). Plans were rearranged, our reservations were reinstated and park staff lined up to do the shuttle. On the morning of July 31 we showed up at
the park office all eager and keen, ready for the shuttle to the river and were promptly told that two members of our group were on their way! With only a few
hours to spare, Pat and Mary had jumped into their car and were bee-lining from Quelph, Ontario to the Ashuapmushuan River in Northern Quebec. As they had no way to get
in touch with us they had called the park office in hopes that staff could intercept us before we got on the river and then simply left.
Fortunately we got the message minutes before taking the shuttle to the river. So plans were re-arranged, reservations changed and park staff re-lined up to
do the shuttle the next day..... so the trip that was, then wasn't, then was with two and then became again with four was on! Thankfully the park staff
were very friendly, understanding and helpful (thanks Jerome!) For photos and more details
on the trip link to the Ashuapmushuan River.
From here we crossed back into our home territory of Ontario. After being on the road for so long we were looking forward to time with family and friends. Click on the Ontario link to follow along.
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