North - Day 28

During breakfast a wave broke against the rocks, sending a huge white plume fifty feet in the air. At first, massive hills on my right kept me in shadow for distant stretches while bright light shone on the water. The whitecaps of large rolling waves blew streams of mist for 20 or 30 yards, forming rainbows. 55 mph winds challenged my balance and foot placement like the most difficult trail. The road passed several interesting village inlets that offered some shelter and sunlight. Anse Pleureuse provided a big morning meal. In Manche-d’Épée the road finally turned inland, where a daredevil driver nearly clipped me from behind. At Madaleine a grocery manager forwarded me to Paradis de Jude et Diane in Rivière-la-Madaleine. The elements had drained the force from my legs and mind. I slept for an hour, feasted for dinner, and then slept another ten hours.

A lady in a convenience store mentioned the winds. Then she wrote “90 km” on a piece of paper for clarity, because in French you say “60-30” to mean “90.” People paid me compliments, “You must be in good shape.” I just smiled and shrugged my shoulders, thinking that chest congestion could still stop me. Only two months earlier I had been sick and overweight, so I hoped they were right.



North - Day 24

After a gentle downhill grade for a couple kilometers, the trail arrived at magnificent waterfalls feeding Rivière Duvivier. Then began an arduous 3-hour climb up Mont de l’Ouest, part of the same ridge I had been running the prior day. The trail afforded magnificent views of valleys back to the northwest before passing by a side trail leading to the peak. After cresting other satellite peaks, the trail followed a ridge along Lake Matane before descending steeply to the shore. I was too “beat” from recent exertions to be grateful for this cool, cloudless day. Stumbling out of the woods at 3:30 p.m., I found hospitality with the hunters at Chalet Matane #1.

At dawn I awoke to a glorious light raking across the treetops from the right. Nature paused in a delicate balance of breezeless, cool conditions with ice forming on the water. Already I contemplated getting another layer of fleece for warmth at night. Departing quickly to generate heat, I heard a crashing sound on the opposite shore. Emerging from the woods came a huge bull moose — the counterpart of my nocturnal wildlife encounters. On more than one occasion during the day, I heard moose scatter from the trail ahead before I arrived.