Around the Gaspe Peninsular
I'd heard all manner of good things about the Gaspe Peninsular but first impressions suggested that it wasn't as going to be as impressive as I'd hoped. The scenery wasn't proving to be great and the driving was tedious but, to my relief, it all changed for the better right about the time I was starting to think about turning back and making a break for Quebec City. First I had spotted Rocher Perce - a stunning arched rock formation located off the coast of the small town of Perce - then, after stopping the car for a nice stroll through the town, the drive suddenly became rather magical. It was as if I had been transported from a rather tedious drive to work and dropped right on the Col de Turini. With the sea glistening away to my right, I sped along the twisting and turning road, melting snow sending huge waterfalls cascading off the mountains to my left. It was quite something and I was reinvigorated.
I was intent on reaching the town of Gaspe before stopping for the night and checked myself in to the cheapest looking motel in town. I was delighted to find that, in any other town, it would in fact have passed as a top-notch hotel - if you're ever in Gaspe I can heartily recommend the Adams Motel. I went for a wander through town - seemingly a small time ski resort - and returned with a Double Big Mac meal from McDonalds. It was my first real junk food encounter for quite some time and, as a reformed addict, it was absolutely superb.
During the night there had been a huge bang and the building shook - fearing an earthquake I looked outside and was greeted with the sight of an errant Penske rental truck parked in the room downstairs. After heading down to check the hotel wasn't about to collapse - like I was a structural engineer and would actually have a clue - I went back into my room and went back to sleep.
As I left the next morning I inspected the damage - it looked even worse in the daylight - and headed off to the nearby Forillon National Park which, given my recent run of bad luck, wasn't something that I was massively excited about. In the end it turned out to be a great day and Forillon would become one of my favourite national parks.
Having warmed up with a couple of short hikes, I set off on a longer trek out to the lighthouse at Cap Gaspe. It was quite a peaceful walk out along cliff edges overlooking numerous beaches and pebbly coves; very civilised. I hadn't seen anyone else until I neared the end of the trail when suddenly a young couple came hurrying down the trail towards me in somewhat more of a hurry than you would expect. Usually in this instance you'd give each other a friendly nod and occasionally a cheery hello but this couple were looking at me with alarm and random words were coming out of their mouth making no sense. (I'd later discover they were from Toulouse and had a heavy accent but, anyway, back to the story...)
To start with I thought they were complementing me on my hair - which I thought a little strange as I don't have much - but it turned out (and I'm sure you're quicker at realising when you're reading this than I was at the time) that they'd just seen a bear and they'd beaten a hasty retreat. At the time it didn't seem to be my greatest idea but, despite being completely terrified, I had to see it for myself. Grabbing the biggest rock that I could see, I thanked them for alerting me and walked on. They must have thought I was very brave or very stupid. Or possibly both.
And, as I rounded the corner, there it was. I'd never seen a bear before - it's not the sort of thing you see in the streets of Woking where the most dangerous animals are the locals themselves - and I'd previously convinced myself that, when I finally did, it would take an instant dislike to me and it'd all end in tears. But, watching from 100 feet away, my feelings changed. Rather than something that was gonna hunt me down and eat me to death it was laying out on the grass eating lunch. It was all very very cool. Okay, lunch was quite possibly another hiker but I sure as hell wasn't gonna get any closer to check. With my hands shaking I snapped a couple of very poor photos (now I really regret not buying that shiny DSLR with 500mm lens) and then beat a hasty retreat like my French friends who I found a short way down the trail eating their lunch. We chatted for a while and then went our separate ways.
I stayed in the park for a few more hours and even saw another bear cub scurry off the road and back into the woods as I rounded the corner. I was now quite a fan so I pulled up, switched off the engine and rolled down the window in the hope that I might get a photo or two but it was long gone. I saw loads of other wildlife too, and some awesome scenery, but finally took a look at the map and realised I had a long way to go so I headed off.
The north of the peninsular was every bit as good as I'd been told it was and I was delighted that I'd managed to squeeze a ‘lap' in to this trip. To be fair I was bloody tired but delighted nonetheless and the scenery were helping to spur me on in my quest to reach a bed and breakfast in a place called St-Simon which had been recommended to me. I pulled in to the wind farm at Cap Chat to take a quick peek at the worlds largest vertical axis wind turbine and as soon as I got back in the car I knew I wasn't gonna make it as far as St-Simon and decided to stop at the next major town for the night. I knew that i was gonna miss out on what was supposed to be an excellent B&B but I had no intention of killing myself and the place where I ended up did me fine in any case and I slept like a log.
Originally published on - and Copyright retained by - Boogity, Boogity, Boogity
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