From Woodstock, New Brunswick to Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec
This past month I have mountain biked 340km of the Trans Canada Trail from Woodstock, New Brunswick to Riviere du Loup, Quebec, then hopped on a ferry to St Simeon and backpacked approximately 200km of the Charlevoix mountains. I am now in Baie-St.Paul, about 100km from Quebec city. The map below outlines my route. Part two will follow soon.
PART 1. Woodstock, New Brunswick to Riviere-du-Loup, Quebec
The trail follows the river as it leaves Woodstock and in late May, the landscape is a mix of brilliant green explosions of life, sweet smells and Monarch butterflies moving between flowering blossoms, their paper thin wings trembling like a baby bird in flight. Knowing how far they have traveled in their fragile bodies and delicate wings gives me hope for the journey that still lies ahead.
Most of this section of trail between Woodstock and Grand Falls used to be a railway line, a biker’s friend as the inclines are never dramatic. After visiting my friend Norma in Grand Falls I resume riding on the trail for a few kilometres and then have to ride on the old Trans Canada Highway following the river still towards Edmundsen. The road is not that busy and goes past the beautiful village of St. Anne de Madawaska. Here I had a remarkable experience. As I was biking I noticed on the road what I thought was a dead bird. I stopped to move her off the asphalt to give her a place in the tall grass and as I held her in my hands I could sense a tiny heart beat. Within a few minutes she became conscious again. I called her St Anne of Madawaska. I stayed with her for awhile and made a nest in my bike helmut which she immediately hopped into and made herself at home. Unsure of what to do I began biking again with the bike helmut hanging off my handlebars. Anytime she hopped on the ledge of the helmut I would stop and encourage her to fly away but she would just hop back inside the helmut. And then finally after an hour or so, she made her leap back into the air and disappeared.
“Wisdom begins in wonder.”
Later that same day as I pulled into Edmunsten I received a sweet message through the website from another Norma at the Gite Au NiDaigle B&B (http://www.aunidaigle.com) offering me a bed and a shower. The name translates into Eagle nest. A sweet gift for my last night in New Brunswick. The next morning I got up and ate a beautiful Acadian breakfast and then Norma gave my a packed lunch with two hard boiled eggs with the shells off wrapped in cold wet paper towels in a baggy, a banana, an apple and some local cheese, almonds and 2 home made buns with butter. I resumed the trail in Edmunsten and about 15km later I entered la Belle Province. All alone in the woods I did a happy dance which will come as a surprise to my friends as I am generally too shy to dance without the aid of some tequila. But the joie de vie of the Quebec spirit brought some groove to my moves. The tctrail is now along the spectacular parc Linear Interprovincial. By mid day I am biking on the shores of the beautiful Lac Temiscouata. I camped on her shores that night on a mossy ledge under a large cedar tree.
The next morning the lake, just twenty feet from my tent door, was hidden by a thick fog. Small rays of light highlighted dozens of spiderwebs, like unwoven cotton balls, white with the morning dew betraying their clandestine locations. I wait for the lake to slowly reveal herself and the fog to disappear and then I resume the ride past Notre -Dame-Du-Lac and then Cabano. Here the trail turns inland and goes past St Louis de ha ha and then to Riviere-du-Loup on the shores of the St. Lawrence. After another few nights of camping and the arrival of heavy rain I again was offered a bed at the Quality Inn by their Manager, Jacques Pelletier, a beautiful french man who grew up in the region and shared with me the secret of catching fish in a river of salt water. You must dig the worms from the muddy banks of the Fleuve when the tide goes out as those worms have adapted to the salt. If you dig worms from the land, they turn white in the salt water and the fish don’t like them. As a young child he would sell 10 worms for 25 cents. My backpack was shipped the next day to the Quality Inn and they stored my mountain bike and paniers until Ann could pick them up three weeks later. There are many people who ask me why I am spending a few years on the trail, but others like Norma and Jacques don’t; they ask only how they can help. Their kindness is the spirit of this land. Happy Canada Day.