Updated: Jan 14, 2022
At the top of a mountain with no place to hide against the wind, we survived all three days.
What Really Happened Out There!
Everything started with a phone call to SEPAQ: we wanted to go camping, anywhere that had a couple of days availability (Not an obvious feat, camping this year had become the new luxury vacation abroad! ) The Sepaq representative (they're great!) helped us book this spot - we were desperate to camp so whatever was available we took - and we arrived having had no idea what was waiting for us.
After packing the car to the roof, we got on the highway heading to northeast Quebec where campsite number 10 was waiting for us.
Parc National du Grands Jardins was our first stop of of 4. Many lakes, stunning mountain views and hiking trails was what awaited us.
The drive took us around 5 hours, and after grabbing some maps of the trails and grabbing wood at the visitor's center we went to see our long waited campsite. We are always interested to see how parks (in this case Sepaq) cares for the environment around, even as visitors flow in and out. Not using wood from the ground at the campsites is one of those investments that we make to ensure the ecologically stable future of these beautiful places!
We arrived full of expectation and well, okay, the sky was a bit grey, there were RVs and other campers all around us, the gravel a bit hard and there wasn't anywhere to anchor the tent... but the most important was that we were happy to be outside and starting our camping week. (Camping with strangers all around was sort of disappointing because it went against what we had imagined...just us, a starry night and the silence of being in a remote spot all alone. But the truth is, making sure people camp nearby is another way to preserve the park so we, shrug, accepted it here too.)
The first night the fire warmed us with a combo of hugs, starry sky and a healthy serving of maple liquor. (have you ever tried it? you should.)
As we were enjoying our fire, we got the unexpected visit from two locals; a very curious porcupine who did three loops around the car and at the same time a cute mouse between our legs. Good thing we had put the food back in the car at this point or the porcupine might have stayed longer :)
On our first morning we were greeted by a perfect and shining rainbow smile.
As usual, we managed an early noon departure to head to the trails. Breakfast, washing dishes, making it a relaxing trip and enjoying N. inevitably contribute to our morning delays. We happily resign ourselves to the consequences of our decisions, and at the same time wish we could get our act together slightly faster each day! :) The good part about leaving late is that by the time we get to all the trails... everyone else is leaving so we have them to ourselves!
The trail we chose was an easy one; a 2-hour walk, 5.25 km with a
230 meter ascent to see this incredible view of the valley.
As we were walking up, people coming down kept saying how strong the wind was, that is was impossible to stay at the top. We smiled to ourselves and figured they're exaggerating. Ha! We're used to strong wind! Yes, the trees were shaking but it didn't seem out of the ordinary.
Only when we reached the top could we feel the force of what the other hikers tried to warn us about!!! In the beginning the enthusiasm and surprise made us smile and recharge from the hike up.
It didn't take too long for us to start looking for some protection. The wind was incredibly powerful and was truly a force to be reckoned with. We decided to heed its warning and find a sheltered place to have some snacks.
Afterward, N. walked all way down singing and making sure his breaks were working. :)
The wind didn't show any sign that it was going to stop. The night was harder than we expected; besides the insanely loud wind, the temperature reached below 5 degrees Celsius. (Read that again.) We weren't expecting warm temperatures but perhaps 5ºc wasn't on our radar either.
Breakfast would have been impossible in those winds so we decided to look for a more protected place. Not very far from the campsite near another small lake, we found our spot.
The whole area was quite windy which made it quite cold. (We later found out that all of Quebec had been windy these last few days). We remembered having seen a flyer to visit a nearby farm so we drove to the bottom of the mountain and decided that would be a good activity for N. (and me) and to get away from the cold for a few hours.
Success!! From chicks to cows and goats, by the end of our visit we were
happy that we had made that decision :)
We spent all day protected from the wind and Noah was very happy to see and touch animals. (One of the biggest challenges since we came to Quebec from Barra Grande has been how little contact we've had with animals. Besides our dogs there, we also had daily visits with donkeys, chickens, pigs and other animals that roamed through the village.)
Back to our last night in Artabaska, the feeling of relief (for not blowing away) and the expectation for the next campsite was high.
Before packing everything to go to our next destination, we did a little walk near the campsite to stretch our bodies.
The truth is, hard conditions make for lasting memories. We were challenged the entire time we were here by one of things we most love - the wind! Trust me, it gave us all it had. And for that... I can promise this place is not one we will easily forget.
Plus, we left this place stronger than we thought we were.