GRAND EXPEDITION SUMMER 2018 (19-29) – DAY 9 – Mountain Wisdom

When we got up, everything was frosted. Frost was covering the roof of the tents. It was chilly outside, the chilliest morning of the trip. The difference in temperature when the sun rises is impressive. Before we left, we had a stretching session during which each of us had to initiate a movement. Lucky we stopped Marie-Ève; otherwise we would have been there all day.

It was a difficult day. We had to stop often to rest our shoulders, because the journey was particularly rough. Everyone was proud to arrive.

The plan for the evening was to have a group discussion as was done on previous nights during expedition. However, given the fatigue, this discussion would take place tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s hike is to be the toughest of all. The distance to cover is 14 kilometres with a gradient of 600 m. Marie-Michelle warned everyone that we might be very tempted to give in. She suggests that we focus on the strength of our mind and think about where we will be tomorrow night and then think about our loved ones. Mario even promised ice cream for everyone when we arrived tomorrow. We will be leaving very early and everyone will have to be ready tonight.

Here is what Steph said who on the first day mentioned his intention to write on the blog. Thank you, Steph!

“The last leg of what feels like a life-changing challenge and a forever accomplishment. In one sense, it felt like the end of our hike would never come. The beginning of this journey was filled with much anticipation, uncertainty, hope and nervousness. We knew that the journey would not be easy, but it was what we signed up for. We all needed this experience for one reason or another and the hope of payoff was within reach. Today, we stand at the end and I have immense gratitude.

As I just said above, it felt as though I might actually be writing about my cancer and treatment. This whole experience in some sence actually felt like a necessary part of my treatment. Though this was my treatment for the soul which, for me, was siginificantly impacted by my diagnosis.

Over the last 9 days, my soul was treated by fresh mountain air and stretched with new perspectives. Today, I am full of memories and experiences that I don’t think I have fully digested. I know that over the next few weeks, I will still be processing all of these sacred moments and wish that I could go back. Here are a few golden nuggets that I hope will be forever printed in my soul. Perhaps our friends and family can even take these as their own!


No one does. This whole experience of being disconnected from anything digital (phones, computers, watches-TIME, etc.) and out of reach of control was challenging, but so very powerful. It was a good reminder that, when you let go of control, you can be open to so much adventure.


It is rare to feel as though you are part of an inner circle, where people are vulnerable, open and honest. I don’t think I’ve ever met friends so instantaneously, and were I feel others understand me on a complex level before knowing me. They`ve had similar struggles. It was very powerful to see others open up about what they were here for and have the courage to be true to their needs.


It was so special to witness friendships forming that I think they will last a lifetime. There were many moments throughout this trip where I heard stories from others that answered questions I had not yet asked.  It is a good reminder of how much you can learn just by listening, whether it is learning how to survive in the woods or more significant moments such as finding someone who has had the same type of cancer as you.


I witnessed so many occasions during which people were reaching the top and we were nowhere near the summit of a mountain. Opening up when you are more introverted, pushing yourself to camp in a tent for 6 days, climbing higher than you ever have, taking on extra weight to lighten the load of others, etc. I could list so many moments like this and I think it is important to recognize accomplishments. I am so proud of you all!


Mario said something very powerful to our group and resonated so strongly with me, ‘The doctors will take care of my health, nature will take care of my soul’. I think this is something that all of us participants have experienced firsthand and I hope to keep it going within me.

I’m really enjoying assimilating the last 9 days. I could keep going, but Larissa just invited me to play cards so I have to go!”

Nicolas Tremblay, Blogger and Photographer for the On the Tip of the Toes Foundation