The price you have to pay

Trip Start May 16, 2011
Trip End Jul 31, 2012

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Where I stayed
Auberge Internationale Forillon

Flag of Canada  , Quebec,
Sunday, June 19, 2011

Wow, no rain. I marvel at the view from the hostel's dinning room window across the Gaspe Bay as I tuck into my croissant, pain au chocolate and fresh fruit. Looks like I will get a walk in after all. Soon Ellie and Taylor arrive for breakfast and a plan is hatched. We are going walkies! We just need to get ourselves the first few kms down the road and into the park.

Giles to the rescue! He agrees to drive us down the road and drop us off so we can hike the last 4 kms to Cap Gaspe. After all he raved about it so much the night before; the views, the cliff face, the whales, the seals, the sea birds you name it he reckons it's got it all.

He drops us off with instructions about a recent bear sighting on the trail and an attack on two girls from a protective mother bear and departs quickly. Bear, a mother and two cubs. An ANGRY bear. Oh dear what have we let ourselves in for.

We start at a small beach with a gentle walk over the hill to a cove taking in the sea shore views. We soon discover a heritage site - a store and warehouse. All to do with cod. Yes cod that was dried and shipped to the Europeans for eating. Then another gentle wander along the coastal path and we find another heritage site - a small homestead for preparing cod, perched on the side of a rugged cliff with access to the beach and cove below.

It is here we meet some travellers (seeing the park via car) that inform us they have literally just seen mother bear and her cubs up on the road, a few meters away from our walking trail. Yikes. We hatch up a plan. Taylor has an umbrella (yes he's travelling with a large brolly) which he instructs us that Ellie will use up front by opening and closing to show size and hopefully scare away, whilst Taylor and myself are to stand behind and to the side flapping our arms about whilst whistling and shouting loudly! Yeah you got it ... mad hey?

So we start off again on our trail, busy testing our whistling skills and Ellie singing about bears to make some noise. Now part of me would like to see mother bear and her cubs in the wild going about their business and I wish for silence from my companions, but the other half doesn't want to come face to face with protective mother bear (who has recently attacked) on a deserted walking trail either... so I'm left in two minds what is for the best. So I start singing with Ellie about bears!

The trail is lovely, gently dipping and rising across the top of the shoreline looking down at coves and bays whilst passing graves. Yes graves. It is at this point that I catch on, Giles has dropped us off on the Grand-Grave trail, 4km before where we asked to be dropped off. Oh well, just a bit more walking to do before we reach the cape.

Now apparently Ellie is a graveyard fan and loves spending time looking at graves and the headstones. Which I have to point out to the Europeans reading this - they aren't very old over here, but the gaves on this trail are some of the oldest. Taylor and myself, (who is now in the know about the walking distance), not wanting to delay our progress try our hardest to keep Ellie walking forward and not lingering at graves. So much so we manage to walk right past a sight and Ellie doesn't even notice.

Eventually we make it to the start of the trail we wanted to begin at and Taylor and myself let Ellie into the secret that we still have to walk the same distance (again) we have just covered, to get to the cape. We fall about in laughter at the madness of it and the fact that Giles hadn't dropped us where we wanted. To top it off between us we have one bottle of water, two bottles of beer (Taylor), one bagel (with nothing on it), two nectarines, two plums and some chewing gum. So the rations are shared out and we start off again.

It is along this stretch as we near the cape that I hear a loud and strange noise to the right of me and look out to see a whale. Yes I've heard the whales blow from the shore. We stand in amazement and watch whilst trying to take photos. A climb later, oh and an encounter with a porcupine and we make it to the lighthouse and Cap Gaspe. We seem to spend some time here soaking up the breathtaking views of the cliff face and wildlife. Yes more whales - a pair of Minke Whales and Fin Whales plus a seal or two to accompany the plentiful bird life.

Aware that time is pressing on and the fact that we need to do a 11-12km walk back to the hostel through the park, we hatch a plan to go back via the car park (and road) to see if we can get a lift out of the park with someone. However 4km lies between us and the car park and mother nature has something else in store for us. Yes as quickly as you can say 'Jack Robinson' the sky turned grey and the heavens opened on us. We try and walk with three under the umbrella, that Taylor has, but give up and we soon get wet - very wet. It is raining cats and dogs as we would say back home. Yep it's a heavy downpour that just doesn't want to give up.

First my legs and trousers are wet, then very slowly I feel wet feet, then squelching in my woollen walking socks and finally the water slushing about back and forth in my boots as I walk. Yes all three of us are wet, very wet. I'm wringing water out of my gloves every couple of minutes. We find the car park but as Ellie points out, no one is going to want us in their car now, we are soaked. A phone call to the hostel to see if Giles can collect us and he's not there. A taxi isn't possible either. The only option is to keep walking. We stick to the road in the hope of hitch hiking but the few cars leaving the park give us wide berth as they drive on past.

Knowing we are getting cold and noticing we are walking in silence I convince Ellie to sing her bear song again. Before long we are walking (or is that swimming?) along the road and singing along to whatever tune pops into Ellie's head. (Funnily enough not 'Singing in the rain'.) Occasionally sticking our thumbs out and getting no success. We must have done another 4km on the road before we were eventually picked up by a French couple whose back seat we fell into with relief. They drove us back the remaining 4km to the hostel where we showered and dried off.

So a laundry night wasn't planned but hey one was needed. It took two cycles through the tumble drier to get my clothes dry, as for my boots... I stuffed them with what newspaper and paper I could find and every few hours changed the wet paper for dry.

So folks, I guess that's the price you have to pay mother nature just to get a whale sighting around here.
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Sarah D on

Oh mate, bless you. Glad you had company for that day. You've bought the experience to life for me when you described water sloshing in your boots...!

Game on hey? And not eaten by a bear - result xx

sue kinsey on

Wow looks fantastic, hope you are having a brill time (looks a bit chilly though)! Take care and carry on trekking. Luv n hugs Sue and Neil x

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