Destination: La Mauricie National Park
We awoke in the wal-mart parking lot and drove to get some ice caps from Tim’s. I could not believe how challenging it was to order that en francais, but we really did our best and at the end of it, we got what we wanted! All throughout Quebec I was so inspired to learn french. I’ve always wished I had a second language, but never more than noticing my struggles in Quebec, which is so beautiful and somewhere I’d like to spend more time. Not everyone speaks English, but most everyone is friendly and kind. Our drive to the National Park was only meant to be about 3 hours but it was so slow going. I was on the GPS the entire time. We’d be on a major highway for all of a kilometre before having to turn on to some random side road, only to reconnect to the highway moments later. We missed a bunch of turnoffs and had to navigate our way back because I’d look up from the gps for a moment and suddenly we’d be rerouting. We were tired and it was about 2pm by the time we arrived at the park – only to find they were completely full due to a bicycle race that was happening the next day. Another example of why it’s a good idea to call in advance, but that doesn’t work as well when you’re just driving as much as you can and you’re never really sure where you’ll end up.
However, some interior sites were available. We weren’t planning to backpack that day, and it was already getting a little late, but we decided to go for it because it had been such an effort to get to La Mauricie in the first place and the next destination wouldn’t work out if we spent the rest of the day driving. We were still ahead of schedule, so a day in nature after all those parking lots seemed like a wonderful idea after all. It took quite a bit of planning with the parks staff in order to choose our site and get organised, and we were really stretching their limits of english, but they were wonderful and so helpful. I love the experience of planning hikes, and nothing is better than doing so with staff who actually enjoy what they do and have great advice and tips.
It took us a good amount of time to get ready for the trek. We had to get our packs together, which we weren’t prepared for. And we also had to make some food so we would be able to handle the exertion. Our lunch was noodles, bouillon, hardboiled eggs, and cheese. It was… questionable. I’m pretty sure it was food, but somehow when you just boil that many ingredients, your end result is less than the sum of its parts.
The hike in to the site was 7k, most of it on a rather wide and paved road. The hills were still extraordinary, maybe even harder because, in my opinion, it’s more difficult to walk up a steep ramp than a bunch roots and rocks which act more like stairs. We didn’t get the full trail experience and we saw a lot of people, some cyclists, fisherpeople, and other campers like us. Still, we were deep in nature and the scenery was beautiful. We had some awesome conversation along the way, and some long silent stretches as well. We weren’t super comfortable with the trail because we didn’t have a map and the trail markers and directions were quite different than what we were used to.
We arrived at the site around 6:30pm. We walked onto the campsite of our neighbours by accident, but we made our way to our site, which was the loveliest of the bunch if you ask me. We found the water right away and stuck our hot, swollen feet in. So little can compare to that moment of relief and joy.
We just had the one tent and I think it was the first time we shared the small one. We set up quickly and settled in to enjoy the night. The site had an outhouse, a tent pad, firewood all provided, and a fire grill. We felt so spoiled!
We had a little fire and made some ridiculous videos on Christine’s phone using her slow motion camera. We let the fire cast creepy shadows on our faces and recorded ourselves saying just the weirdest shit really fast so that with the slo-mo, it sounded ‘normal’. We had ourselves in stitches.
For dinner we ate the fish guacamole, which we were very happy to finally be rid of, and we toasted the sourdough bread with butter on the ends of sticks. We were full after having hiker hungry and choking down our very dissatisfying lunch. It wasn’t the type of food I would normally bring backpacking, but actually it worked perfectly and we got rid of what we needed to without wasting anything.
When we were winding down for the night, we went down the little stairs to water and looked out over the beautiful lake. We smoked a bit of pot and saw an alien spaceship. Okay, I’m only kind of kidding. We saw something that definitely did not move like anything you see on earth. It jerked through the sky so fast we lost track of it, but it came back. We thought maybe a drone, but those aren’t exactly speedy and this moved like it was propelled somehow, but the trajectory was too random and all-over-the-place to be anything like a plane.
Anyway, we decided this was the perfect time and scenario in which to plan a podcast series, which would centre around two sisters (ahem) who met aliens – and the aliens agreed to give the sisters anything they wanted but the sisters would have to be ambassadors for the aliens finally coming to earth. Like, slowly exposing the population to the possibility and then reality of aliens on our planet. Only, what the sisters wanted more than anything was their very own super popular podcast. We called it “Aliens Funded Our Podcast” and we got super into it – including planning season two – before finally crashing.