Thursday evening was our last camping night. Together in our big dome, that we shared our impressions of the adventure. Each person had to choose a word that represented their experience or feelings. The words? Acknowledging, alive, hopeful, privileged, beautiful, and surprised took centre stage. It was a lively evening of emotion, filled with tears, laughter … and Karl!
This Friday morning was a rainy one; a day of greyness, wind and rain was on the forecast. Fortunately, we are leaving; we realize how privileged we are to have had such a wonderful week, mild temperatures and a bright sun.
So, we had to dismantle the entire camp and reduce all traces of our passage to a minimum. Together, we shared the tasks. Small teams each dismantle the prospector tents while others dismantle the kitchen, plug the holes and took down the dome. Team work is done naturally and easily.
Once done, we take a final moment of silence and a final breath to feel the fresh air of the mountains on our faces. And together, in a single voice, we sing “On the toes” song.
Our snowshoes and backpacks on, we are ready for our last hike. Two kilometres back on our tracks to where the bus is waiting for us. Leaving our village ends our adventure, but we still have precious moments to spend together.
A brief stop at the interpretive centre for lunch also allows us to see one last time the majestic Mount Albert that watched over our first three days in the shelter.
We then proceeded back to Matane. On the bus, we sleep, we talk, we play music. The river and its ices quietly guided us, and the sunset welcomed us to our inn. We quickly get settled in our rooms and come out for supper. Tonight, we’re not having Charles’ cuisine. Instead, we had a supper at the restaurant … in a reception hall. Fortunately, it is not the place but the people who create the evening’s atmosphere.
Back at the Auberge des Sapins, we had a free evening. We are alone at the inn, and we fully occupy the common living room. We gather around the fireplace. It is warm; Catherine, Alex and Jayden play ukulele and sing with Serena. We get a nice surprise; Karl, Georgi, Adam, Serena, and Jayden wrote a song on the bus, and perform it for us.
Our last evening is therefore a happy one. And as Mario Bilodeau, one of the Foundation’s co-founders, says, after an expedition and moments of reflection and sharing, we must celebrate.
That’s what we do as it is done in great big family gatherings.
Chantale Lecours, Photographer and Blogger for On the Tips of the Toes Foundation.