On Monday it was time to leave Bryan for a while and start my trip to the Gaspésie for 6 days. On my way out of Québec city I managed to get lost since my navi totally sucks in city traffic. Keeps telling me to turn where there is no street to turn and stuff like that. So it took me quite a while. I was so happy when I had finally crossed the bridge to the other side of the St Laurence river. Of course it was raining again. Really hard this time. I always had to use the windshield wipers at full speed and still couldn´t see very well. Since the weather was so bed I just took the highway 20 instead of the more scenic route 132 on the coast. My first stop was in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli. A cute little town, but also there most of the things were closed. I just went into some nice boutique, withdrew some cash and had a little snack out of my supplies in the car before heading on. Walking around in this rain is not really funny.
Highway again. Just before Trois-Pistoles I stopped at a Fromagerie and tried and bought some cheese. Was funny to see them stirring the cheese with a kind of huge plastic fork.
In Trois-Pistoles itself there is not much to see apart of the nice church which you also see on the beer bottles. I was a bit disappointed.
Driving on to Rimouski directly to the station of Radio Canada, where my couchsurfing (CS) host works. I could have a look around and was introduced to everyone and when Nadia went on air for the 6 pm News on TV I could watch from behind the scenes. Was really interesting to see how this works and all what is happening that you don´t see when watching the news.
After the show we went home where her son JC already had prepared dinner, which was really yummie. And since I hadn´t eaten properly all day, I was very hungry! Nadia and JC went to a poetry slam later where JC performed. He got the third place and is going to the finals. I stayed home with the daughter, since I wouldn´t understand a word anyway. I had a nice and relaxing night in my own room and a very nice breakfast with Nadia before she went to work. This family is just great, I was so lucky to be able to stay with them. Most of the interesting places in Rimouski were still closed at this time of the year, also the Museum about the ship catastrophy that happend there shortly after the Titanic sank. It was not raining for a change, so I drove to the Parc du Bic for a little hike to a nice viewpoint. I wanted to get to Pic Champlain, but the road was blocked already like 2 km before the actual parking lot. So I left the car behind and walked. Finally on the trail, it took only about 5 meters until I got stuck knee deep in the snow. I quickly thought about aborting this mission, but I really had the urge to move a bit and be in the nature for a while and I really wanted to see the view. I discovered footsteps in the snow. So I thought, if other people can do that, I can too and continued. I broke into the snow quite often and it was very tiring to walk like that and also not exactly without risk, but it was also fun somehow. Plus I had reception so if something would have happened I could have called someone at least. After about 20 min during one of my many falls I somehow lost my water bottle. Quick thought like “Is that a sign?” But then continued. After about an hour I still hadn´t reached the top, but since it was getting worse and worse and I was basically crawling an all fours by then, I decided to stick to the time limit I had set myself at the start and turned around without reaching the viewpoint. It´s a 6 km return track, so basically 3 km to the top. I couldn´t have been far away, already had quite a nice view. I also got really thirsty by then. Helped myself by eating some snow. Down was partly even trickier, but still faster then up and I even found back my water bottle. When I finally reached the car my socks, shoes inside and outside and my Jeans were soacking wet. I first had to change into dry things. My legs were pritty green and blue. This tour was super tiring, but also a little adventure and nice. Alone in the woods, smell of the woods and snow, just peaceful and a nice exercice too. I would say it was worth it.
Time for another round of snacks from my supplies before driving to Sainte-Anne-des-Monts. It had started raining again when I walked back to the car and didn´t stop for the rest of the day. I was also with a couchsurfer there. This guy was kind of a weirdo, but friendly and helpfull. I didn´t feel super comfortable there, but had a kind of nice evening anyway. The next morning he kicked me out a bit aprubtly without time for breakfast. But I was also kinda happy to get out of there, so it was ok. It was not raining anymore but still very cloudy and it looked like it would start any moment again. I went to the monolith close to his place. We quickly went there in the evening too, but it was raining so hard and I was wearing my only dry shoes and pants, so we just had a quick look from far away and returned to his home. In the morning though I walked along the beach all the way to the rock and took some pictures there and from the harbour.
On my way to Mont-Sainte-Pierre I saw some nice waterfalls, partly frozen ones, a cute little lighthouse in La Maitre and generally some nice views on this coastal road. Quite impressive road. Couldn´t take too many pics though since I was driving and it was not possible everywhere to stop.
After a short breakfast stop in Mont-Sainte-Pierre I drove on to Gaspé. No further exploring after breakfast since it was raining again and there was an ice cold super strong wind blowing. So no inviting weather at all. My hostel – the Auberge International Forillon – was in Cap-aux-Os. So about 30 min further from Gaspé and about 3 hours from Mont-Sainte-Pierre. I checked if they would be open and have a free bed on the way since my to be CS host didn´t come back to me with an address or phone number. On the way the sun finally came out and it became a beautiful sunny day. Going to this hostel was a great choice since there was still a lot of snow in the Forillon National Park and at the hostel you could rent snowshoes for free. For $30 a night in a dorm it also wasn´t too expensive. It´s quite cute with a piano and a guitare in the common room and also many old LPs with a player.
I first had a little snack on the terrace of the hostel with a beautiful view before setting off for a small hike with Marion, a German girl working in the hostel with a work´n´travel visa. We did the Sentier La Taiga Trail. Deep winter landscape with frozen lakes, loads of snow, beach with lots of drift wood. Beautiful nature. On the way back we walked on the beach and stumpled over a dead moose.
In the evening I drove back to Gaspé to spoil myself with a dinner in a restaurant. I went to the Brise Bise and had a Poutin aux Crevettes followed by a heavenly Fondant au Chocolat. Bought some supplies at the local IGA Supermarket to be able to cook the following evening and preparing some lunch for the hike the next day. While I have been away several other people had arrived at the hostel so there were 14 guests in total. I was quite surprised since so far every place I had been was basically dead at this time of the year. The next morning we set off to the Sentier Mont-Saint-Albert Trail with snowshoes all together. One couple always stayed behind and didn´t make any effort to fit in the group. When we reached the viewpoint after about one third oft he way they turned around. The rest finished this beautiful trail with great views together. We even saw moose and bear trails in the snow. Unluckily not the animals though. At the Grand Grave we sat a while on the beach and tried to spot some whales, but we were unlucky. On the way back tot he cars we saw some porcupines.
Back tot he hostel we had half an hour to rest before we set off again to the parc with Gilles to see some beavers. We also saw a few mooses and birds. Our search for bears was unsuccesfull though. Finished this eventfull day with a hot shower and a spaghetti dinner.
Started early the next day to drive all the way from Gaspé over Percé, Carleton-sur-Mer, Causapscal back to Rimouski. It´s about 540 km, a long way, but it is possible with a few stops on one day. I couldn´t have been luckier with the weather since the 2 days at the national park I had beautiful sunny and warm days, whereas it was basically raining on every single other day.
I was staying with Nadia and her family again. They had friends over from Gaspé and a workmate of Nadia´s husband. We had a lobster dinner together. A big mess and you have to work for your food, but it´s very yummie and a lot of fun. We ended up in the jaquzi in the garden with some homemade booze. These people are just great, I am very happy to have stumbled in their lives. So openminded, welcoming, fun, natural people who know how to enjoy life. The next morning I could have a quick look at JF´s distillerie
before I drove back to Québec City to Bryan. We did spring rolls for dinner and later went out for a beer with Valérie. Next day, Sunday, we did a little excursion to Thedford Mines and back through the Beauce. Otherwise administrative stuff, laundry, packing,… Getting ready to leave with all my stuff, since I wouldn´t come back.