I’m in the midst of yet another major detour, being pulled along the coastline by its natural marvels. As with the Icefields Parkway, I’d been convinced that La Gaspesie is a dream ride packed with terrific terrain and stunning scenery. And like the Icefields Parkway, it is a special part of the country I’d hate to miss.
With a fresh chain, chain rings, and back tire from the Levis bike shop, I continued along the St. Lawrence south shore ready to experience its gradual widening. This was my introduction to highway 132, which – little did I know – I would eventually consider a good friend with whom I’d shared many fond memories with.
As the river widened, so did my ability to understand Francophones – but unfortunately at a much slower rate! Generally their English is better than my French, so we have a good laugh and use English.
La Gaspesie is very popular for local cyclists eyeing one or two week tours, not surprisingly. There’s even a tourist booklet “Gaspesie by Bike” with elevation profiles, all rest areas, groceries, accommodation, etc, which I’ve found quite handy. So far I’ve passed a handful whom I didn’t have the chance to speak with, and I’ve met a touring couple and two solo tourists, all from Montreal. One was Danielle, who had a flat while I rode with her for a couple hours. Just starting her first cycle tour, she didn’t quite know what to do, so I gladly showed her the process. Three and a half months in, I suppose that makes me the veteran in this case!
Saturday brought yet another unplanned visit. Uncle Neil, Aunt Martine, and Cousins Sophie and Adele picked me up off the highway in their rental SUV near Sainte-Flavie on their way to family dinner in Petite-Matane. The ordeal was an accurate snapshot on how much of this trip has gone: presented with a hefty challenge, we cleverly pulled through despite minimal forethought and resources. My two rack straps were enough to secure my bike on the roof for the 45-minute drive, despite some movement and turbulence.
In Petite-Matane we were welcomed by Aunt’s Sister Micheline, Husband Germain, and daughters Angelique and Marie-Françoise and treated to a tour of their hobby farm.
After being delivered by the rental SUV to my original cycling position near Sainte-Flavie, I steadily continued through the beautiful region they call La Gaspesie. Back to cooking for myself, wild camping – and hiking! For some reason Quebec calls their provincial parks “Parc National” – maybe they’re hinting at another separation vote?
Pic Chomplain hike in Parc National de Bic:
Mont Albert loop hike in Parc National de la Gaspesie – 6.5 hrs and 17km, my longest yet!
Cap-Bon-Ami hike to the lookout tower in Forillon National Park:
Gravel trail to Cap-Gaspé and short walk to Land’s End in Forillon National Park – Land’s End is the Eastern most point in the Southern part of Quebec:
I have few words to describe the consistently impressive landscape. Jagged coastline, full of small towns with a single church, usually its tallest building. The hilly highway generally hugs the coastline, alternating between cliff-top vistas and sea-level intimacy. I’m sure this barrage of photos will do it more justice:
I was particularly satisfied with my Tuesday night camping spot on Le Grand Etang lake. On the hunt for a spot for the night, I noticed a narrow dirt trail beside the highway leading down to the lake. Not a person in sight, my own clearwater lake, and a small forested area with enough flat ground to pitch my tent! A lake shower, lake laundry, and lake dishes completed the full camping experience I’d gone so long without.
Having reached Forillon National Park Wednesday night, I still have much coastline ahead before crossing the next provincial border!
I’ve been pushing my physical limits, as la Gaspesie is extremely hilly and I’m cramming in hikes too. I have a set grocery list that feeds me oatmeal, wraps, spaghetti, and granola / granola bars for two days. I know where to look for camping spots, groceries, and wind forecasts. Do I dare say I’ve settled in to a comfortable routine?