We know we are in Quebec because French is still the primary language. By the time we have driven 6 hours due east of Quebec City along the south side of the St. Lawrence River, we begin to question whether New Zealand might look just like this. Leaving the very well tended small farms of Eastern Quebec (no abandoned cars or junk anywhere), we began to pass below the Chic-Choc Mountains producing hundreds of creeks, rivers and piled snowdrifts. How can it be mid-May, on the coast, with whale and lighthouse sightings, right next to waterfalls tumbling off the cliffs into the sea?…hundreds of them! I stood in one spot and counted eleven waterfalls within view, from 40 to 120 feet high. Truly extraordinary, especially finding it on our own continent.
Furthermore, the small coves between the cliffs each have a strong cultural identification, be it Basque, Acadian, Loyalist, or Scottish Highlands. The food however was the same from cove to cove, represented by the small ‘Casse Croutes’ (snack shops), but all offering fresh seafood in addition to the usual french fries, as you would expect from a fishing community.
We are 6 weeks ahead of the summer tourist season which means the roads are empty, but the campgrounds are closed. I suppose that after 8 months of snow, Canadians do not want to take a summer vacation in the stuff, so they wait until July to open up their campgrounds. However, the Forillon National Park remained open and staff allowed us to park overnight for free in any parking lot, most with gorgeous views, and attached hiking and biking trails. The bad news is that the far more numerous Provincial Parks throughout the Canadian Maritimes are truly still closed for the next 4 weeks.
Can there be too much nature on a nature trail? Yes, if you have to delay your hike a dozen times to wait for black bear and numerous 30 lb. porcupines to decide when they are ready to share their hiking trails. They seemed to have no fear of humans, even accompanied by a leashed dog…so we waited patiently to proceed. Who knew porcupines climbed trees to eat tender buds?
The weather cancelled a hike planned for the International Appalachian Trail that passes through the the Gaspe Peninsula as well. But we caught a break from the rain, and hiked up to view the Perce Roche (featured image), an eroded limestone monument. Tomorrow we will enter the primarily English speaking Province of New Brunswick to get to the Bay of Fundy and the amazing tides.