I woke up in a single bed on the screened-in porch of our cabin. It was frosty, my toque had come off in the night, and I was surrounded by smelly hiking boots. Oh, the life! The night before, my room-mate (the cabin had two bedrooms, each with two single beds), had come to me and said, “No offence, but I don’t know how you are still married with that snoring.” So, I was voluntold to move onto the porch, thus maintaining peace on the mountain.
Today’s inner soundtrack was “More, More, More” (how do you like it?). We tackled Mont Xalibu, a five-hour round trip to the summit at 1140 metres. It was a very civilized journey coming on the heels of the Mont Albert circuit, climbing gently past scenic Lac-aux-Americains, before testing us from the 90-minute mark onward. Not too long after that, though, we reached the sub-alpine treeline, and from then on we could see for kilometres in every direction, except when leaping from boulder to boulder on the stretch of trail approaching the plateau. I highly recommend keeping your eye on the trail along here — your ankles will thank you. While Xalibu is somewhat less travelled than the Jacques-Cartier and Albert hikes, its smaller plateau offers a superior 360-degree view of the heart of the park. A definite highlight was hunkering down for lunch in one of several semi-circle stone windbreaks, perfect for hungry hikers. I think I can safely say that our group voted Xalibu the best hike of the week, for its combination of reasonable climb, great picnic spots and unsurpassed views.
Mont Xalibu is a 10.6-kilometre out-and-back. It is rated difficult and takes four to six hours.
The Lac Cascapédia campground vibe was so laid-back in the last week of the summer season, that we found ourselves on a first-name basis with the camp mister-do-everything, Gilles. So laid-back that we were caught by surprise when we returned on Day 3 to find the camp store and kiosk closed for the season and all of the canoes and kayaks packed up and taken away. It was Wednesday, and the campground was still open until Sunday. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted, Gilles.
Today’s inner soundtrack was “Shattered” (look at me, I’m in tatters. Does it matter?) Honey, if you read this, approximate lyrics don’t bother ME. We climbed Mont Richardson on our last day. Driving in we passed what I swear was the same moose we’d seen three days earlier, albeit with less of a death wish on this particular morning. Richardson is the fourth jewel in Gaspésie’s crown and we were the first hikers on the trail. In fact, we saw only a handful of people all day, making this feel like a proper day of discovery. The mountain presented a slightly different challenge than the others, requiring a climb to a lower summit adjacent to Mont Joseph-Fortin, followed by a saddle and then a steady climb to the summit at 1180 metres. Mont Richardson’s plateau is easily the most compact of the four mountains we climbed. The trade-off for reaching an almost pointed mountain top is the need to climb rise after rise to get to it, each offering a false hope that you have reached the top.
Mont Richardson is an 11.6 kilometre out-and-back. It is rated expert and takes four to six hours.