So, I got the idea to sign us up for the Tourise Chaudiere-Appalaches Adventure Tourist Contest. As we are both outdoor enthusiasts, I figured that we were the perfect team. As well, Catherine is a great photographer! The only problem was that I completely forgot to tell her that I had signed us up for the contest. Oops. It was only when I got the call that I realized what I had done. However, it turned out to be a really nice surprise for Catherine… and I know how she thinks, she’s always ready to take on a new challenge… I knew that she would follow me on this adventure.
Our adventurer itinerary began on a Sunday morning. We took along the strict minimum: sports clothes, bathing suits and food for the three days. And so, we jumped in the car to conquer Chaudière – Appalaches and what better way to kick-start our road trip than to sing our heads off to Céline Dion!
Our first stop was in St-Paul-de Montminy, or more precisely at Appalaches Lodge, where we did some Cani-Hiking, also known as hiking with dogs. To be honest, we didn’t have any idea what Cani-Hiking was about. We thought it was sort of like dog sledding, but in summer. We were wrong. It was more like our body was the sled. Equipped with a harness, we had to let ourselves be pulled along by the dog. This may seem to be relatively easy, but when the dog decides to take off running down the mountain, you can feel your quads forcing to make them slow down. Our friendly guide, Stephanie, was passionate about dogs and earned our trust in the first few minutes. She was able to reassure us, as we didn’t seem so sure in front of the 55 dogs that were in the enclosure. This activity, that I would qualify as physical but not too physical, could be of interest to all dog lovers and mountain hiking enthusiasts.
For lunch, we had a prime place reserved on the patio of the La Chaudière(Appalaches Lodge restaurant). This place is basically a health spa. What’s better than being in a spa ambiance to fully recharge before taking on our second activity?! After enjoying a wonderful meal, it was time to get back on the road in the direction of Parc des Appalaches.
This regional park, south of Montmagny, offers a wide range of activities - biking, fishing, hiking, nautical activities and much more. It’s full of hiking trails so you can explore the natural world.
In this regional park, you can also take a canoe or kayak trip along the river. That’s how Catherine and I got the brilliant idea to do some tandem canoeing. We quickly found out that we had absolutely no coordination. The result? We changed our canoe for two individual kayaks. Ahh…the feeling just wasn’t the same. We felt much more connected to the water with the kayaks than with the canoe. And so, we rowed along the magnificent Noire Nord-Ouest river for the next three hours. What a fun way to relax while doing something physical at the same time!
Once our trip along the river was finished, we got back on the road in the direction of Esker Nature & Resort, which was hands-down our favourite part of the whole adventure! When we got there, we succumbed to the charms of the couple who operate the site. They welcomed us in such a heartfelt and sincere manner that we felt naturally at home. We were inspired by their way of life, which was to simply be together and be with nature. We were really impressed by the beauty of the cottage in which we would spend the night. The site was unbelievably clean and had a rustic decor and was simply magnificent. In the evening, we made ourselves a little meal with a good bottle of wine and finished off the evening in the hot tub!
Esker Nature is really the best place to enjoy a stay with the family. Unfortunately for us, our stay was too short to enjoy the entire place and try out the wide range of available activities that you can enjoy on the lake or in the forest. Hiking, paddle boarding, kayaking and lots more!
The next morning, we had a challenging hike to do to reach the summit of a mountain where we would spend the night. When we woke up, we were surprised by the rain. But oh no, the rain couldn’t stop us! So, we decided to relax with a good coffee and go check out the falls while we waited for the rain to let up.
After these few relaxing moments, we headed off towards the Parc du Massif du Sud. This was probably the coldest day of the whole summer. It was rainy, windy, and the humidity level had to be at least 70%. When we got to the park entrance, they described the route we had to take to get to our base camp. A number of different routes were possible to get there. For the way there, we decided to take the longest and most challenging route! Gigantic trees, a huge observation tower, wind turbines… in short, the Les Géants trail was like a breath of fresh air, in spite of the inclement weather.
After 5 hours of non-stop hiking, we (finally) arrived at our base camp. This refuge can accommodate 8 people and operates like a youth hostel: bed reservations are individual. That night, only Catherine and I had reserved beds…or you could say wooden planks ;) However, we had planned ahead and brought sleeping bags, floor mats and of course way too much food.
We were really surprised by the cleanliness of the site. We were expecting to spend the night in a site without conveniences. There was a chemical toilet with paper just in front of the cottage and the Klondike… we had our own wood stove. Catherine lit a fire to cut the humidity and heat up the cottage.
We went to sleep at about the same time as the sun, completely exhausted from our day. We really slept well! The next morning, we ate quickly and got back on the trail for the trip back to the entrance, which was about 7 km away.
This trail, called Les Ravages, was in the middle of the forest compared to the last one, which turned around the mountain. On that day, we felt all alone in the world and completely connected with nature. We found more than a dozen moose tracks in the woods. Very majestic. As well, a beautiful creek ran through the forest and we were thrilled to find small fruits and mushrooms throughout the forest. Some genuine beauties of nature!
And so, after 2.5 hours of walking, we arrived back at the entrance. We were so happy to find out that there were toilets and showers. After more than 12 hours in the forest, a shower is a must…especially since a representative from Tourism Chaudiere-Appalaches was waiting for us for a lunch interview!
This lunch get-together, that marked the end of our adventure, took place at Resto Bistro Bleu Citron. A wonderful little restaurant with a patio with a view. We had some delicious homemade cooking made with fresh and tasty ingredients. A little piece of Italy in the heart of Bellechasse (Saint-Charles-de-Bellechasse), where you can try a variety of pizzas, pastas, salads and the quintessential gelatos. Yum!
A special thank you to the whole team at Tourism Chaudiere-Appalaches for this incredible adventure that let us disconnect, explore, feel out of our element and all this, not very far from home!
Sarah and Catherine
Photo credit: Catherine Bernier
Text credit: Sarah Lemelin