After several weeks of waiting, preparation and questioning, we are leaving today for the 2019 great winter expedition. I will have the pleasure of telling you about the adventure experienced by our group of 11 young people aged between 19 and 29. A week of snowshoeing in the Gaspésie park is planned. We will sleep in shelters and prospector tents. For most of the participants, it will be a first experience in Gaspésie, snowshoeing and especially, winter camping. We will learn how to set up a camp and hike through the winter landscapes of the Gaspé Peninsula.
The adventure began on Friday evening as we gathered at the Cofortel Hotel in Quebec City in preparation for an early Saturday morning departure. We met around a big table at a restaurant. Some arrived by plane from Ontario and British Columbia … and others by bus from Montreal. We can already feel the excitement of the departure.
Saturday morning, we’re ready to go. We have a big day’s drive ahead of us: about 6 hours of driving with stops here and there. We are in good hands with Carl who will be our driver and helper throughout the expedition. On the bus, through English/French exchanges, the links begin to develop. We enjoyed Alexandra, Catherine and Marie-Michelle’s singing songs from Joe Dassin, Céline Dion, Johnny Cash and REM.
At lunchtime, the group’s Anglophones discovered our iconic Rotisserie St-Hubert. For the rest of the road, Marie-Michelle and Catherine inform the group on the camp that we will have to set up in the coming days. First of all, learn how to make knots! With our ropes and using the bus benches, we learned to make a flat knot, a chair knot and a tensioner knot. Each of these knots will help us set up our tents securely.
As we follow the river, the mountains slowly appear on the horizon and we finally arrive at the Mont-Albert shelters. Beautiful cabins with the edge of the wood. Everyone is helping to clear the bus and carry the equipment. We arrived just at the right time, at dusk under the watch of the quarter moon.
As we arrive, we also meet with our three guides for the week. Charles, Isabelle and Corine will introduce us to the magnificent park of the Gaspé Peninsula. They know the place inside and out and promise us fabulous hikes. Charles is also our leader, and we are treated to a first-class supper. We also take advantage of dessert, a delicious bread, apple and blueberry pudding, to celebrate Jessica’s birthday, our social worker.
A first evening of discussion brings us together, in our expectations and concerns. We quickly realized that we share the same things and that, together, everything will be fine!
Under the starry skies, we head for our first night in a shelter. We are ready and enthusiastic to experience our first day of adventure.
Chantale Lecours, Photographer and Blogger for On the Tip of the Toes Foundation.