Quebec Road Trip Day 9
The calm after the storm allowed us to enjoy a relaxing breakfast after our long night at our windy campsite in Percé. It was such a glorious morning that we almost forgot about how little we had slept the night before. Almost.
We drove about 3.5 hours from Percé to Gaspe National Park. This provincial park is actually in the mountainous centre of the Gaspe Peninsula and not at the tip, which I would have guessed before our travel to Quebec. In fact, as mentioned previously, Forillion is the actual National Park located at Cap Gaspe, the tip of the stunning Gaspe Peninsula and Gaspe National Park is a provincial park not located on the coast.
Our route from Percé to Gaspe National Provincial Park inland, and then a a not so nice surprise, lead us on a 60km gravel road through the Chic Choc Mountain Reserve. This route was equally a beautiful, fun adventurous treat (for me) and an annoying, bumpy botheration (for both me and my driver). If our 1998 purple Dakota didn't need new shocks before, it certainly did after that undertaking! (J: It did need shocks before) Either way, as mentioned, it was very beautiful and the fall colours were really starting to pop providing a much need distraction for my trusty driver. You can imagine our surprise then, after over an hour on a gravel road with potholes hungry enough to swallow an entire tire, to find Gaspe National Park to the busiest of all the Quebec parks we've visited! There was even a line up to buy a entrance pass! This Park, it turns out, is also accessible from the north, and much more conveniently so. Thankfully we get to take advantage of this paved route on our way out!
A second revelation quickly followed the first. There were mountains here! Real, snow capped mountains in the interior of the Gaspe Peninsula! On the East Coast of Canada! I was not expecting that. At all. I suppose this shouldn't be surprising considering Gaspe National Park is described as a mountain park, of course. But snow capped mountains! Mount Albert specifically! How amazing! Quebec really is stunning. I feel like there are gems hiding everywhere in La Belle Province. Thickly forested slopes, alight with bright Fall colours rise up on all sides of the road around you, sometimes the steep slopes even creep up to snow dusted rocky peaks!
The finikity weather and looming fog swirling the mountain tops led us to choose lower elevation hikes for the afternoon. We hiked along the river beside the visitor centre to the Chute du Diable lookout area. It was a nice easy path to a vista over the river with the mountains rising behind it.
We spent the later half of the afternoon on our very private campsite enjoying a warming campfire and a view of Mount Albert over the tips of spruce trees. I roasted marshmallows, obviously. J serenaded me on the ukulele, obviously. It was the first afternoon that we had taken on the whole trip just to sit around a campfire, relax and enjoy begin outside. It was a much needed break.
The next morning we took on two other hikes in the park, Le Lac aux Americains and Le Mont Ernest-Laforce. They were pretty much would I would classify as "My Perfect Hike', which by my definition, requires some effort but offers rewarding vistas that exceed said effort. Le Mont Ernest is a loop up to a lookout with sweeping 360° views of the surrounding surprisingly stark landscape. The mountain clouds hung low over the peaks hiding them from view, but it also created a wild mountain atmosphere that was pretty amazing. The second hike Le Lac aux Americains brought us to a glacial lake surrounded by mountains that had aspects of lake Louise intermingled with East coast forest. Pretty impressive.
We reluctantly left the park and headed back to the main highway to make our way back down the Gaspe Peninsula and towards Montreal. It was a beautiful day for the waterfront drive, which was bitter sweet. Nice to drive in, but sad because not only were we headed south but also it would have been really great to have the sun for our hikes that morning.
We detoured to the adorable village of Kamarouska to admire it's colourful architecture and quintessential harbour before heading just a little down the road to our last campsite. As most of the campsites have been, it was practically empty and we had our pick of the campsites. We chose one with a fabulous view of the St Lawrence trying to soak up every last second we had with this iconic waterway and of our vacation. The tuk shop at the campsite had 50% off all food and drinks including beer! Needless to say, it was a great deal and we scooped up the last bottle of craft beer to wash down our last nights marshmallows with!