Date: June 24 2000
Trail Day: 24
Miles Today: 18.6
Location: Beside River Causapscal
Section Mile: IAT 290.4
ECT Mile: 290.4
Got out of Amqui. The trail here is well marked. It follows dirt roads, ATV trails and sometimes becomes hiking trails. Stopped by Chute Philomene - a medium size waterfall. A very sorry looking sign announced its presence - probably drawn and layed out by a fifth grader. The maintenance was pathetic. Met two guys who were putting up signs for ATV trails.
After meandering across small hills, farms etc. the signs once again became scarce. I found my way to a dirt road. Followed it but it dead ended into a house. I turned back but two women hailed and asked me to come there. They were friendly. They invited me into the house. One of them flirted with me quite outrageously. She was the lady of the house. Her husband arrived shortly and showed me where the trail was. He also drove me to the river and showed me the salmon. They are difficult to see. They were very friendly and I spent several hours with them. He then dropped me of where I had got lost and I continued my hike. I am camped beside River Causapscal near some rapids. The lead in my mechanical pencil has also run out and I am using a tiny piece. Well, some more maintenance.
A scenic shot
Date: June 25 2000
Trail Day: 25
Miles Today: 23.6
Location: St Marguirite
Section Mile: IAT 314
ECT Mile: 314
Continued the hike along River Causapscal. Its a nice trail but the maintenance is quite poor. I was looking out for salmon but saw none. The trail then joined a dirt road to Causapscal. Just as the dirt road started there was a bar on top of the hill. Went there and had a large beer - very refreshing. Had a very interesting conversation with the bartender. I wish my French were much better. Its fun to talk to the local people - they have lent a lot of color to my hike.
Near Causapscal the trail entered a field, continued on some delapitated land and then followed a small stream. There was an old kerosene lamp hanging from a tree in the unmaintained land. Parts of it have rusted away. It brought to mind the history of the place. There were numerous old farm implements strewn about. I have also seen some of the original houses that have now been boarded up. They are much smaller and humble but have more character than the newer ones. There are also several very old barns.
Most of the trail was through back roads. Signs were also scarce. There was one section that ended in a T and there were no signs. At that time I had assumed that I was lost. I made a guess and saw a sign at the next turn. I had been on the trail all along. A note on the signs. The metal plates with SIA/IAT logo seem to be in short supply and are thus used only at intersections or forks. So you can hike for several kms without seeing one - a very uncomfortable feeling. Also in some of the true trail sections there are very few crossroads to offer a bail out point. So I am always hiking with the fear that I might lose the trail due to bad signs and may have to backtrail about a half days worth of hiking.
It started raining around noon. It was off and on all day. I started another section map after Caucapscal and it was in tatters by the end of the day. Caucapscal was a disappointment. No good places to eat. It was also peak tourist season due to the salmon fishing and I could not find any rooms. I decided to continue to St. Marguerite and find a room there. This made for a very long day.
St. Marguerite is a very small town and has no hotel/motels/camping ground. I bought my food supplies for my next section to Matapedia which should take 4-5 days and has no stores in between. The girls running the store offered their couch in their balcony for me to sleep in but their brother seemed uncomfortable with the idea of a stranger in the house. So I declined and set up camp on a pine stand.
I am now somewhat wet and very tired. Boy, that couch sure looked appealing. Anyway, good night.
Date: June 26 2000
Trail Day: 26
Miles Today: 17.4
Location: 7 km North of St Andre De Restigouche
Section Mile: IAT 331.4
ECT Mile: 331.4
Today was a bright day with plenty of sunshine. Good to dry out my tent, clothes and sleeping bag. The trail started out as a dirt road, switched between ATV trails and dirt roads several times. This continued for about 10 km. Then it made a sharp descent into a valley. At this point it became a true hiking trail. There are no bridges at this portion till River Asmetaquagon. There are three stream crossings. I crossed the first ones without getting my socks wet by stepping carefully on large stones. I tried the same thing on the second stream, but got my feet and socks soaking wet. The third stream was a combination of the previous two streams and I had water up to my knees with fairly strong current. I also had to wade River Asmetaquagon. It was about a hundred feet wide but very shallow - about 9 inches average.
From Asmetaquagon there was another new trail to River Etiene. I had bought about four days worth of food for this section to Matapedia. When I looked at the map closely during the hike I realized I will reach Matapedia tomorrow noon. I had too much food. So I feasted on 3 cans of sardines and some bread. It was a little heavy and all the blood must have gone to the stomach as I felt very lethargic. Even worse I had a long climb ahead of me. I took about 1.5 hours for that 1 km climb. But after that I got back to normal.
From River Etiene the trail followed a dirt road. There were absolutely no signs - and I hiked mostly on guesswork. I was afraid of a back track. Finally saw a cabin, knocked and talked to two forest employees. One of the guys had seen me in Amqui. He told me I was quite close to St. Andre de Restigouche (the place I was trying to get to) and gave me directions. I was happy to avoid a back track.
It was getting late in the day, so I decided to find a place beside the road and camp. No cooking today as I am fairly full from my lunch.
This section of the forest has more wild life. I think the rest of the valley is heavily hunted. The message is clear - we need protected areas for wild life till we learn not to kill everything that moves.
A general note - Canadians are even worse than Americans when it comes to the bottle. A good portion of the people I meet are nursing a beer during our conversation. St. Marguerite does not have a hotel/motel/ library or even a gas station but it has a bar. Smoking seems to be compulsory here.
Date: June 27 2000
Trail Day: 27
Miles Today: 13.7
Location: Auberge Matapedia
Section Mile: IAT 345.1
ECT Mile: 345.1
A lighter day than usual. The map that the forest employee drew for me yesterday turned out to be useless. Either the directions did not come through from the mix of French and English that we spoke or I took a different route. I just continued to stay on the major dirt road that headed south or west and suddenly got to a trail head with the SIA sign on it. I missed a small portion of the trail - definitely needs better signage.
Got to St. Andre de Restigouche. Small place, had a library but no internet connection. Bought some canned soup and soda and ate. Continued to Matapedia.
This section of the trail was a pleasant surprise. Most of it was on proper trails. It was very well signed - normal trail standards (excepting the Florida trail). It was a mish-mash of signs - the SIA/IAT metal tags white pieces of plastics with SIA written on it, blue and white pieces of plastic nailed together, blue blazes, white blazes, blue and white blazes. Anyway, I was thrilled to have such a well marked trail. It could also be appropriately named "The trail of many streams". I think it must have intersected or ran along 7 streams. Very nice. Some sections had very old, large, magnificent maple trees. I wonder why they havent been chopped down to make toilet paper.
Today is also an important day as I have completed my first province. I am still in Quebec just this side of the river. I have crossed the river to buy groceries but without my backpack ... Well you get the picture. Unbeknowest to me, before I started the hike, Quebec is one of the larger provinces in the hike. It has taken me just short of a month to complete it. The largest state will be Florida; at about two months, followed by Virginia at about 1 1/2 months and then, Quebec.
I got the package that I had mailed to the post office at Montreal with no problem. I now have a fresh set of maps and a fresh set of socks. My socks have held up very well and could possibly last another month. The Thorlo's have lost some of the springiness though.
I am now stuffed with chicken, banana, beer and cheese (tastes and smells horrible - no wonder they say you have to develop a taste for it). I also noticed how soundly I slept this morning. The forest workers have been driving their vehicles on the road barely 20 feet from my tent and I never heard them. This is in sharp contrast to the first few days one spends in the forest where every little noise gets amplified due to anxiety and you have trouble falling asleep. Now, I am out in 15 minutes.
Matapedia is also one of the stops that the train to Gaspe had made on my way to the trail head at Parc Forillion. In fact even Caucapscal was a stop. The train had worked its way south and then travelled east along the western coast of the peninsula. I have hiked the eastern coast of the peninsula, paralleled the train route and shall now head south into New Brunswick. Train and I divide here. The next time I cross my train route will be in New Hampshire (Amtrak). I thought I saw a white AT blaze from the train. It will be interesting to find out if it really will be the case.
Date: June 28 2000
Trail Day: 28
Miles Today: 16.9
Section Mile: IAT 362
ECT Mile: 362
Called Vivek and Suriyan. Vivek to send me the next set of maps to Ft. Fairfield and Suriyan to make reservations in Baxter Park. Got a late start, probably around 10:30. I crossed the bridge to New Brunswick and walked about 1 km when a van pulled up next to me and the driver said I was on the wrong road and that I was still in Quebec. His name is David and he is one of the trail maintainers of the section from St. Andre de Restigouche to Matapedia. He gave me a lift back to the motel I had stayed in and I continued on the current road. Matapedia has two rivers - Matapedia and Restigouche and I crossed the wrong river. God knows where I would have ended up had David not stopped to point me in the right direction. His daughter is called India !
What are the odds of a trail maintenance worker stopping by when I was on the wrong road and what are the odds of seeing two enthusiastic hikers in the middle of a closed section in Parc de la Gaspesie where I was thoroughly lost and demoralized by snow ? I am starting to believe that the term 'conincidence' just not do it justice. There is something bigger at work here.
I continued towards Dawsonville where the trail is supposed to pick up and saw absolutely no signs. Continued on to Squaw Cap to see if I can find the trail. No sign here either. This section either does not exist or they are horribly marked. Continued to hike towards Glenwood to pick up the trail near the Kedgwick reserve. On the way I had stopped by the only store I have seen today. Had sandwiches and soda. The gentleman running the store offered his yard for me to camp in and I promptly accepted. We talked a lot about Northern Canada, Florida, about his life, mine and cold weather stuff. It was interesting.
Around 9:00 pm it started to get a little chilly and I put up my tent. Tomorrow I should enter the Kedgwick reserve. The trails, from what I have read from other journals are very steep and rugged. David also told me that Nimblewill Nomad got lost in Kedgwick. That is not a good sign. I will have to try and pay more attention to the maps and my progress. Lets see how it goes. The gentleman whose yard I am in now also saw Nimblewill Nomad and John. Looks like they will do the Mt. St. Pierre - Matapedia section afterwards. Nimblewill Nomad is 62. He had hiked from Key West to Cape de Gaspe in 1998 at the age of 60 !
In a restaurant
Date: June 29 2000
Trail Day: 29
Miles Today: 16.8
Location: Jordine Brook
Section Mile: IAT 378.8
ECT Mile: 378.8
I had breakfast at the same store. I talked a little more with the store owner. Took a photo with him. His name is Arthur Bacon. He has lived here since he was 6. He and his wife have a daughter who is married and they have two children. There had been a fire in a barn and trailer yesterday. I had seen a police car, two fire engines and several cars speed by as I was hiking along the road. Yesterday evening one of the fire fighters had come to the store and related what had happened. It seems two of the horses in the barns had been trapped and died. Last night as I was about to fall asleep I suddenly realised that I had talked to the man who owned the horses and dogs. He had said he had sold the place and was moving 10 miles away. So in the morning I asked Arthur if that was indeed the house. Turned out it was. It was somehow bizarre. I mean what are the chances that I would talk to the person and within the hour his trailer and barn burns up. Spooky.
Anyway, I got hiking at about 7:30. It was cloudy. I did about 7 km to Glenwood Provincial Park which they have actually shutdown. I found the trail and continued. The trail is quite well marked with white and blue stripe flags and some parts have metal tags with the SIA/IAT tag on it. It started raining around noon, so I put on the backpack rain cover. I just get wet during rains. Raincoat cuts off the air circulation too much and you end up sweaty inside. Either way you get wet. I saw a bear and a moose. The bear was the same size as the one I saw in Park Forillion but this one bounded off immediately. I was able to see the bear and the moose because of the rain. The noise of the rain drops had drowned out the noise of my footsteps.
At one point I got to the place where they were cutting trees. The posts and the flags were all gone. I continued in the general direction and saw the large machine responsible for the carnage. The operator was new and had no idea about any trail. He drove me to another similar machine. The second guy knew where some parts of the trail were. We drove around till we found it. They then dropped me off where I had seen the first machine so I could hike the whole thing. People think it odd when I ask them to drop me back at where I found them. But once I explain that I have to walk the whole distance they understand. I have even pieced together the necessary sentence in Francaise. Its "Je dois marche la trail complet".
Boy, the machines do an awful lot of damage. It destroys everything - the smaller trees, shrubs, weeds - everything. It looks as though a gruesome murder has just taken place. I walked a little further down the trail. It had some of the large, magnificent trees. I realized with a pang of sadness that the machine would be getting them some time next week. What hypocrasy - the western countries blame the " third world" countries for destroying the rain forest while the rape occurs everyday at home.
The rest of the hike went well. There are a lot of ridges in this section and as a result I could only do a smaller straight line distance than I had hoped for. After what seemed like an endless number of ups and downs I came to the hill beside the Restigouche river. It was a beautiful scene. I then made a long descent to Jordine brook. Now there are two ways one can cut a trail on a hill. Straight up - short and steep or with numerous switchbacks - gradual descent but long. The trail down was an example of the second approach carried to the extreme. I was almost dizzy with all the switchbacks. But I had decided to camp beside the brook and was in good spirits. So I just enjoyed it.
Most of my places to camp in the forest are quite bad. It will either be sloped, cramped or have a big boulder or root sticking into my back. This time I found a semi established camp site. Nice and flat. There was also a nice fire ring with a lot of dead trees nearby. I was about to get a fire going but then decided to sleep instead. This is also prime bear country. So I have cooked and eaten away from my tent. I am also supposed to hang my food away from a bears reach but I am too tired and lazy to do so. Tomorrow I will let you know if I still have my food.
Picture of the River Course
Date: June 30 2000
Trail Day: 30
Miles Today: 18.6
Location: Near England Island
Section Mile: IAT 397.4
ECT Mile: 397.4
First off, no bear visits. Tonight I complete my first full month on the trail. I am enjoying it so far.
Last night I was thinking of walking along the river Restigouche. The trail never touches the river. So today morning I tried to hike to the river from the brook I had camped on. Within a few 100 feet however the valley closed in and the vegetation became too thick. So I continued on the trail. Got to a good view point. The river is very low, they say. I could clearly see enough shore to walk on before the mountain began. Further down the trail there was a dirt road which seemed to be headed towards the river. I followed it for a while but then it started paralleling the river. I then decided to bushwhack to the river. It looks like the mountain has a very steep slope just as it gets to the river level. I had to lower myself down those 50 ft or so. My ski pole fell off and I landed on my butt several times but finally made it.
Walking the river was easier. I cant believe the trail never touches the river. Some of the sections were much harder. These were where I was walking on the outside of the curve of the river. Here the river cuts into the rock and there is no walking area. In one such place I barely had a foot hold, my body was parallel with the rock face at about 70 degree angle with both hands on the rock. I had a good 10 feet plunge into the water if I slipped - Not life threatening but a definite soak and swim. I made it and was so relieved that I decided to rest. It was a very odd place. A highly sloped rock face with good depression for a back pack and a person to sit in. Above was a tree that was growing at an angle to get the sun. It had started raining and the tree acted like an umbrella. I sat there and really enjoyed the strange location I was in. Then I continued on.
The rain then picked up and it rained off and on almost all day. I was fully wet. There was one rock section that I had to climb into the trees to avoid. Since it was raining very heavily I decided to rest. I thought - about a month ago I was working in Pratt and Whitney now I am in the middle of nowhere sitting under some trees behind a river soaking wet. I really like rain and was very happy. I was grinning a good 10 minutes. 5 canoes with women passed by.
Due to the rain the rocks had become slippery. I skidded and lost my balance several times. There is one flat red kind of rock that is the worst. I saw numerous tadpoles in the little pools. Three officers (police, forest kind) stopped their canoes to chat. One of them knew about me starting from Cap de Gaspe. We talked trails, salmon and bear and said our byes. I got towards Pine island. Somewhere in this area the trail diverges from the river for about 20 km. I decided to get back on the trail. There was a club. I talked to 2 ladies working there. They gave me directions and some soup and bread. The soup was wonderful as I was wet. People have an inborn tendency to help others and sympathize with those who are having a hard time. Its very difficult to believe this in this modern age, but its true. The two women were an example. They saw me soaked and worn out and naturally gave me food and encouragement. This can be a very refreshing experience and rebuilds one's faith in humanity.
I found the trail without any problems. Due to the cloud cover however it darkened a little quickly and I couldn't find the flags anymore. I have almost no water, but was forced to camp where I was. Only snacks and uncooked Ramen noodles for dinner today. It is still raining but I am out of wet clothes into my dry ones and in my sleeping bag. It is very cozy.