Our last days in Quebec were spent at Forillon National Park, where we enjoyed views along the Atlantic and hiked the Les Graves trail out to the Cap Gaspe lighthouse. We were joined by a friendly porcupine and an inquisitive moose. We absolutely positively did not hear bears in the brush. We missed seeing the coastal drive west along the St. Lawrence river in daytime but we did end the trip with one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen in my life.
The drive from Gaspesie National Park to the Gaspé peninsula and the Percé rock was absolutely stunning. Every bend in the road revealed the glory of fall in all its splendour - yellows, oranges, reds and greens.
We arrived in Gaspé in the late afternoon and after checking into our hotel headed to town for dinner and to view the famous Percé rock with its large natural arch. Early the next morning, only two of us managed to roll out of our warm, comfortable beds to head out in the misty drizzle to see the sun rise over the Atlantic. Unfortunately, we missed the sun as it peeked out for a handful of seconds as it rose over the horizon but we soaked up the quiet, gray atmosphere as we explored to peninsula - together, alone - while the rest of the town slept.
During our trip to Florida, we went on the hunt for alligators and found one at the Wakodahatchee wetlands. Can I just say that the dark, still waters and forests dripping in Spanish moss are a bit scary? I mean, who knows what is lurking beneath those lily pads and high up in the trees. Be that as it may, it was still gorgeous and so much fun to explore.
Florida was a pleasant surprise! I’d never really thought about traveling there - it was never on my list of places to visit - but an opportunity arose to drive down with a friend for a short vacation last winter. With my sister along for the ride, we arrived two days later and a strange thing happened. I relaxed. As we approached the house and pulled out the key to open the door, I looked around and my breath eased out. Tension seeped out of my shoulders and all the stresses of life disappeared. The warmth of the Florida sun was heavenly and the magic of a new unknown place to explore was exhilarating.
Within moments of our arrival I mused to the others that I now understood why Canadians fled to warmer climes during the winter months. I mean, sunshine and sundresses, ice cream and seabirds, swimming in warm waters and walks on the pier in the middle of winter? When everyone back home was enduring -20 degree temperatures and digging out from yet another winter snowstorm, we were sleeping with the windows open to allow the sea breezes in and eating dinner outdoors surrounded by palm trees, skittering lizards and fragrant flowers.
And though the reality of winter would be ours again in seven days, I learned the immeasurable value of a week of summer in the middle of winter and was determined to enjoy every minute of those seven days of summer!
On our final morning in Gaspesie National Park we decided to hike Mont-Ernest-Laforce, an intermediate level 4,5 km trail. We left early and arrived as the sun was lighting the treetops. The weather and light were phenomenal - warm and golden. Given the early hour, we only saw two other parties on the trail, although there were many people starting the hike as we arrived back at the parking lot.
The trail wound its way through a forest and upwards above the trees to open and bare hilltops with stunning views. It was windy up top but we barely noticed, our attention on the 360 degree views. When breakfast began to beckon, we started back down the trail, pausing to watch a mama moose and her baby before heading back to the cabin, packing up and driving east to the tip of the Gaspe peninsula.
So, it's been a while...
Summer showed up and it's been non-stop for months. It's been hard to find the time to edit and post but I'm sure everything will settle down eventually.
Back to our east coast trip and a beautiful evening hike in the Tablelands. The landscape here is otherworldly. It would seem more at home in the desert landscapes of the American southwest than in Newfoundland. To hike in the Tablelands is to walk on the mantle of the earth, which is normally far below the earth's crust. Peridotite was forced to the surface during a plate collision several hundred million years ago. The rusty colour indicates high levels of iron. Highly toxic minerals and a lack of nutrients results in little plant growth - thus the barren landscape.
Our hike was the perfect end to a stressful day. It was a warm evening and we had the trail to ourselves. Three girls in a vast, quiet landscape.
Storm clouds hung low over Gros Morne National Park on the first few days of our visit. The tent walls would flex and bend in the strong winds, delivering stinging slaps to the face in the middle of the night. Clearly our choice of tent was excellent, though. It bore up well under harsh conditions - no broken poles and a warm, dry interior.
After enjoying some moose burgers in town, we drove around the park and watched an incredible sunset. The following day the others hiked to the top of Gros Morne mountain (post to come later) while I took the opportunity to visit some of the local sites and get a bit of work done. The day was dark and the seas were rough but the light was phenomenal. Stray beams of sunshine put a spotlight on the earth and the Tablelands seemed to glow in an almost ethereal light. A slice of cheesecake topped with cloudberries in a local restaurant tasted sublime after many hours exploring the Lobster Head Cove Lighthouse.