Trail Journal

Date: June 17 2000
Trail Day: 17
Miles Today: 14.3
Location: Entrance to Petit Sault
Section Mile: IAT 201.8
ECT Mile: 201.8

Did not get the early start I had planned on. The day was very windy. Got to the top of Mt. Albert. Then continued on the trail towards Reserve du Matane. Today I left Parc de la Gaspesie. It has taken me a while. I also caught a faint glimpse of the ocean. It is about 30 km to the north. Continued on to Mt. Fortin. The views were spectacular. The trail ran along the ridge. Distances are deceptive at this height. The whole forest looked like a lawn. Encountered only patches of snow - mostly firm. Between Mt. Fortin to Mt. Matawees there is a rather sharp valley. The trail turned on, descended into the valley and ascended Mt. Matawees. Things became tough here. This portion is covered with snow. I had a hard time determining the trail. The IAT/SIA folks have done a wonderful job marking all the turning points with the IAT tag. This made things some what easy. But, I would like to plead, even beg the trail maintainers to please, please blaze. It can make things easy for many a weary traveller.

I found my way to the top. Again splendid views. The trail ran along another ridge to Mt. Collins then started descending sharply. Here, I saw a caribou about 250 feet away looking at me. Ivy (the caribou researcher) had told me that they were curious animals and sometimes follow people. As I was on a steep section I did not want any close encounters with large animals. I shouted and waved my arms. It started coming towards me. Having no other choice I continued on the trail towards it. Then it started runing away and was followed by 2 young ones with much shinier coats. I was very happy. I had been disappointed that I had not seen any caribou so far. I had seen abundant droppings but no animal. Mt. Logan and its vicinity was my last chance to see one and I did. I continued to look for it as I climbed down but did not see it any more.

The trail then did all kinds of turns. I tried to keep a track on my map but eventually got thoroughly confused. At one point the trail even went exactly in the opposite direction of desired travel for about 1 km before crossing a little stream and turning sharply around. I just followed the metal tags with fingers crossed. After what seemed like an eternity I came to a beautiful water fall. I made a guess as to where I was and continued on. Finally I reached Rte 1 (a good land mark) and then continued to the entrance to Petit Sault Chutes Beaulieu. Rt 1 runs along a valley besides river Cap Chat. The mosquitoes are horrendous. I ate inside my tent and am now writing the journal. About 50 ft away the river makes a 5 ft waterfall. I can even see it from my tent.

My impression of Park de la Gaspesie - I could not hike most of the trails. Whatever I did were well maintained. An ideal active vacation could be planned using La Gite as the base and making day hikes to Mt. Jacques Cartier and Mt. Albert. Hikes are also possible using the huts but will require a willingness to rough it out. Also wait for the snow to melt completely.

I may encounter some more snow on Mt. Blanc the highest peak in Reserve du Matane. But once I get past that I should see no more snow till I approach Georgia.

Date: June 18 2000
Trail Day: 18
Miles Today: 13.6
Location: Unidentified lake near Mt. Blanc
Section Mile: IAT 215.4
ECT Mile: 215.4

Today's trail ran beside a stream that had several water falls. The climb was steep and was a rock climb in places, though never dangerous. It then crossed the stream and followed a smaller stream that also had several water falls. There were places where one could possibly take a refreshing shower or a dip. This and the previous section lasted about 5 km. It was so beautiful that I did not notice the hard climb. I think that this section has a lot of potential. Some viewing areas, benches and bridges could be added to enhance the view. Currently, it is very undeveloped and one misses some good water falls especially of the bigger streams. I think this is the best section I have done in this hike.

The trail then crossed the little stream and headed to the top of Mt. Nicole Albert. What a view ! I could see the ocean and also Mt. Logan. Then it went down and back up to Mt. Bayfield. All this while all of it was sharp up or down. Then the trail became moderate for the rest of the way. I also met two maintenance men who had been cleaning the tree top blow downs. They said the trail was more difficult to follow on top but that the trail was flagged.

I am having a horrible time of keeping track of where I am. Both maps that were given to me by IAT and Sepaq are rubbish. The maps dont show many of the lakes that I saw and the trail runs by. The trails shown are also wrong. All I know now is that I am about 5 km from Mt. Blanc to the north. There have been patches of snow but not enough to be a problem. I should see more tomorrow. It has also been cold today so I am preparing for a cold night. I am also almost out of snacks but have about 5 days worth of food left. I should reach some stores in 3 days.

Note on food cravings. The deep hunger that I have heard about has not kicked in yet. I guess my body is still trying to get rid of the excess fat. However, I have already dreamt about food twice. In one I was in a store deciding to buy a loaf of bread and jam to eat immediately. In the second I was disappointed that I had missed a dinner organized at Pratt & Whitney but then someone came and told me that they were still serving dinner in another place.

I also saw a snake today. About 1 ft long slender, black with grey lengthwise stripes. I thought snakes couldn't live in these cold areas. I also realized that there are no birds such as eagles, vultures or kites circling the skies here.

Date: June 19 2000
Trail Day: 19
Miles Today: 9.3
Location: Lac de Gros Ruisseau
Section Mile: IAT 224.7
ECT Mile: 224.7

Yesterday I was not that far off from Mt. Blanc - about 3 km. It went up and down a small hill and then a steady climb upto Mt. Blanc. There is a shelter on top with a guest book. I signed the guest book, and took a photo. The rest of the day the trail was either going up or down, only rarely stayed level. It has run to the peak of every hill on the way.

Saw a moose today. It could not decide whether to run or not. Finally it decided to run away. I cant believe people hunt these things. You might as well start shooting cattle. I am now approaching the end of the mountain chain and the views towards the end were only OK. Nothing compared to Mt. Blanc and Mt. Logan. Tomorrow the trail joins with Rt 1 after a while and exits the park. Day after tomorrow I should see some civilization and stores.

I washed my T-shirt in a stream. Also washed myself above the waist. The pants that I had sewn tore after 3 days and I had to throw it out. I have only 1 now and even that one is losing its stitches. I need to buy 2 shorts. I also lost one sox in my adventure at Mt. Albert. I am now rotating the 3 I have.

Today was a short day. I also had to get into my tent due to the insects. They are little flies and seem to be attracted to the brightness of the tent. They keep smashing into the tent. It sounds like it is drizzling. The weather has started to warm up considerably. I was hiking without a shirt for a good portion.

Date: June 20 2000
Trail Day: 20
Miles Today: 17.4
Location: Rte 1 at Chalet 1
Section Mile: IAT 242.1
ECT Mile: 242.1

It rained overnight. Kind of surprising as the sky was clear when I went to bed. Did about 8 km on the trail with the remaining on Rte 1 where the trail joins it. Spent the morning portion cursing the trail designers. There isn't a hill or lake that they miss. Even lakes, they touch it at several points, many times climbing a little hill and then coming back down. The meanderings are also outrageous. Near Lake Matane it was on a series of 3 hills which had a ridge running along them. They used the ridge between the first two then brought it down almost half way and then went back up. I had to check my map and compass to make sure I was headed in the right direction. In one section I missed a turning point, continued on a side trail and reached the edge of a lake. Saw two, 5 inch fish swimming. I think they were trout. They were pinkish, had spots on them and were top feeders. They were swimming in water about 2-3 inches deep. Every once in a while they would gulp something from the surface - insects probably. It was a very peaceful and serene to watch.

Also saw a deer - or so I think. I only saw the hind portion. It was too yellowish to be a moose. Also saw 2 moose on the road walk. Looks like the smaller ones come to the road. Both of them would run only reluctantly. On the road walk two friendly guys stopped to chat. They were out to see wild life. They had seen me walking from Lake Matane (about 18 km) and said they were impressed. I impressed them more by saying I had walked from Cap de Gaspe !

Weather has decidedly turned hot. No T-shirt day today also. Water is also becoming warmer and harder to find.

Also saw a grouse play injured (or so I think). It made a squeaky noise and shuffled as though injured. I think it was trying to lead me away from its nest. I played along and then it flew into the bushes.

They have something called Chalets in the park. I thought it would be like a shelter in Parc de la Gaspesie. But, its a more elaborate affair. Its like a cottage that you can rent. There is even a fridge inside - that's living in style in this wilderness. Anyway there was no care taker or anyone. So, I cooked my food on a picnic table in front of it and then pitched my tent near by. Now I am hoping nobody comes by at night and throws me out ! Good night.

Date: June 21 2000
Trail Day: 21
Miles Today: 17.3
Location: About 6 km SW of St. Vienney
Section Mile: IAT 259.4
ECT Mile: 259.4

The night went OK. Got up early to avoid Ranger check if any. Cold morning. My hands were numb. I hummed a parody to Pink Floyd's "Comfortably numb" - Uncomfortably numb. Left Reserve du Matane and continued on to the town of River Matane. There was a camp there not yet open. The lady served me sausages, crackers, candy bars and cheese sticks anyway. I have now entered the Valley of Matapedia section. I had one heck of a time finding the beginning of the trail. Finally found a sign almost lying on the ground saying SIA. Followed it. The term trail is very loosely applied here. It was essentially a bush whack with very poor signs. Ribbons of all colors were going every which way - no help. Did considerable detective work and followed it. All of a sudden, after about 1 km of this it dropped into a dirt road. From here the signs were good.

Got to St. Vienney. Called Kumar - not there. Talked to Karen - Suriyan's wife. She was nice to talk to and some encouraging words. Looks like they were worried that I may dropped out. The last entry I had mailed them was after the hard snow hike when I was thoroughly demoralized. Mailed another set of journal entries and a roll of films. Also mailed my winter clothes to Vivek. I am now 2 lbs lighter as a result but my pack is much emptier. They sure are bulky. Had lunch in a restaurant - good. Here's a food craving on a long hike - Salad. Tomato, cucumber, lettuce with some dressing - Ummm.

Continued hiking but could not find the road it took off on. Knocked at someone's door for directions. They were extremely helpful. I am sorry now that I did not get there names and a photo. The mom took out a more detailed map and started searching. She then called some people and was able to find the road. They were really nice and helpful - Thank you. Some more trail angels. I spent almost an hour talking and figuring out the maps with them.

Continued on the trail. After a lot of turns and quirks during which I was sure I was lost, I suddenly saw an SIA sign. I had been on track all along! The signs need to be improved a lot. I am now about a days hike from Amqui. It rained today. Had to cook sitting in the tent and the stove in the vestibule. Almost bedtime.

My review of Reserve du Matane. It is quite remote, rugged and undeveloped - more suited for experienced back packers. The folks there also need to do a better job at presentation and developing picnic spots, trails, views etc. The full potential of nature there has not been captured. Give it the shine of Parc de la Gaspesie and you have a promising place here.

Date: June 22 2000
Trail Day: 22
Miles Today: 12.4
Location: Amqui
Section Mile: IAT 271.8
ECT Mile: 271.8

The start was quite frustrating. This section from St Vienney to Lake Matapedia seems to be poorly signed. I was supposed to follow a dirt road to Lake Matapedia. Absolutely no signs. I tried to follow the map but there are many forks in the road that are not shown on the map. I explored several of the forks and they all dead ended or ended at tree stands. At one point I could see the lake from a small hill. I guessed about 3 kms and started bush whacking. It was harder than I had anticipated. The trees were dense and there were several good ups and downs with poor footholds. After about an hour of this I came across a tree stand. Got on top, took a break and a photograph. The trail from the tree stand led back to one of the forks that I had explored. After about 4 hours of attempts I gave it up as a lost cause and decided to find the trail by a road further down. The route was called Lebrei. The trail was well marked from here.

It shared an ATV trail that ran a semicircle around a hill. Then it became a true trail and after about 20 minutes dumped me at a corner of a freshly ploughed large field. It was not clear from the signs which side I was supposed to hike. I could see Rte 198 and the electric posts. Decided to walk to it. I walked across three farms, several fences in poor condition and reached 198. Then a further 5 or so kms along that route got me to Amqui.

Found a cheap decent hotel - Hotel Amqui. It faced the train station. The trail I had taken from Montreal to Gaspe had stopped here. Bought a big beer, big pizza, ate showered and fell asleep.

Date: June 23 2000
Trail Day: 23
Miles Today: 0
Location: Amqui
Section Mile: IAT 271.8
ECT Mile: 271.8

A zero mile day. A day of rest. Bought shorts, a wind cheater, poncho and fuel. Did laundry and mailed some letters. Watched the soap opera "All my children". Everyone seemed to be having emotional problems. Library was closed due to a holiday - no internet. I also think I have been in the wilderness too long - women were looking very pretty !

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