Days 94 to 97 July 21 to 24 2015
This was to be the idyllic kayak trip – in our minds we had Minke whales, we had blue skies, we had calm waters, we had fjords rising around us. We had all this in our minds as we booked this trip – – –
Day One 21st July Quebec city to Lans St Jean
We made an excellent decision to hire a car instead of trying to co-ordinate connecting with the 1 bus a day. Despite a slightly anxious start about finding the rental place, navigating the one way streets, getting out of Quebec city. We managed with only one navigational error that took us on a lovely scenic route out of the city through lovely hillside villages.
Early on we passed by St Anne’s Cathedral said to be a place of miracles and I seem to remember reading the largest cathedral in Canada but I cannot seem to validate that. Well as we were excited by the idea of getting to the “Flavour Trail” we passed by seeing it only from a distance.
On the way we traverse the Flavour Trail Charlevoix, a well mapped and promoted food trail. I imagined tiny French style villages with streets lined with French Patisseries and Fromagerie. Not quite we had drizzling rain and trouble finding the picture I had.
We stopped hopefully at a Fromagerie, again imagining a cosy French cafe groaning with fresh baked bread and cheeses in these lovely old buildings, surrounded by green pastures – but no cafe. There was a lovely selection of cheeses which we sampled before buying a couple of pieces for our evening wine and cheese! Chris had difficulty with the rather stern woman behind the counter even using his school boy French – rather well I thought.
Pouring rain as we got closer to Lans St Jean – dampening the spirits somewhat and crushing the idyllic vision of kayaking the blue water of the fjords with whales popping up alongside us.
Lovely drive into a cute little waterside village. Before checking in we stopped to introduce ourselves at the Kayak centre and check if still going – absolutely.
Checked in. Washing done. Slight embarrassment as I ended up in someone’s unit instead of the lobby – the startled woman who met me spoke no English but looked horrified. And I with no French looked even more so as I hurriedly back out apologising profusely.
Day Two 22nd July Kayaking the Fjord
Met and prepared to head off with Fjord en Kayak our guide Jean Francois. A small group – us and a family of 4 with 2 young teenage boys. Wonderful travel companions.
We were issued tandem kayaks which I would be ever grateful for from the time we moved passed the bay, till our return. The weather continued overcast but at least it was not raining.
All packed – every kayak full. We set off – Chris and I great paddling together. Calm waters along the bowl of the bay surrounded by green hills and little hamlets. Lovely. Dispositions elevated.
Very quickly we past the heads of the bay and paddled into a strong head wind, choppy sea, and the final blow – when I asked Jean Francois when we could expect to see whales he replies – no whales as we are too far up the river.
Crossing the Fjord was hard work and we quickly lagged behind requiring a tow here and there to keep us up with the group.It was good to have completed it before lunch. After crossing we paddled along the sheer towering cliffs of the fjord coming straight into the water. Little vegetation and no pleasant river bank upon which to have our lunch. It was not possible to see where we would put in.
Finally wet and cold we put in on a rocky beach. As we tried to think this was fun Chris took a picture of me – everytime I see it I recall how a smile can deceive. I was cold, shitty and wondering what the hell I was doing out here.
After lunch more paddling with help at intervals from Jean Francois and finally – camp.
Camp was again a rocky beach and steep incline but treed. Our beds were small landings built on the hillside with a tent on each. A covered communal meeting area and kitchen down on the waterfront.
Mozzies, Mozzies, Mozzies.
All of this was forgotten with a fantastic dinner prepared by Jean Francois – Duck in sauce.
Day Three 23rd July Kayaking the Fjord
Awoke to rain and wet gear. Sore wrists, sore elbows, sore everything. What were we doing?
Hot coffee and delicious omelette helped the mood.
Into the wet soggy gear – not so delish!
Our route for the day – ” Against the wind for only 10km”. Another morning fighting choppy seas, strong winds and no opportunity to rest for fear of going backwards.
Another lunch spot with no visible sign of landing points – a little tricky beaching but we made it.
The afternoon with wind at our backs!
On return into the peaceful bay of Lans St Jean – Jean Francois suggested a leisurely paddle around the bay to view the countryside. Mutiny as with one accord we all headed straight for the beaching spot.
The boys had been steadily slowing the pace over the day which was unusual. As the boats were hauled up the helper noticed increased weight. On investigation it was discovered the front hatch had not been properly secured and they were carrying a hull full of water.
The bliss of that hot shower can not be fully described. So blissful I did not realise I had drained the tank!
We were going to eat at the Chalet but it was average and decided to take Jean Francois recommendation and head to Bistro de L’anse a co-op. Fantastic – cosy, friendlier than friendly, good beer, great food (Venison burger), great atmosphere, delicious local chocolates Kao Chocolat. Despite being tired we thoroughly enjoyed our night.
Day Four 24th July The Mountain Road Back to Quebec City
Woke the next morning surprisingly fit and refreshed. Delicious crepes for brekky at Cafe Du Quai then back on the road.
Travelled back the mountain road – Highway 381 it was sparse, beautiful, with very few signs of other people until suddenly we came across a huge granite mountain rising beside the road.
We drove in to find a park centre for Parc national des Grands-Jardins – the misty granite cliffs we saw was Mont du Lac des Cygnes. We park and enter the centre looking for a toilet and a place to eat our lunch. We expect a quiet little hub after our quiet drive. We enter to a Buzz of climbers and hikers.
Supermarket – delicious lunch
Found our way back to the Chateau des Tourelles without incident.
Opted for chicken dinner – Portugues style chicken at Poulet Portugais it was GOOD. So good we returned the next night as well.