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Where I stayed
Forillon National Park of Canada
What I did
Whales, Lighthouses, Seals and Black Bear
We’re really enjoying these puttering driving days. Today, we drove through Haute Gaspesie (the upper Gaspe) and east, on into Land’s End. There are so many quaint, rugged coastal villages along this route. We noticed that most of the villages were in a protected bay, often where a small river would spill into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
At Mont-St-Pierre where we camped last night, the cliffs go straight up and we noticed small landslides with lots of rubble at the bottom. It is a glacial valley, with rock formations millions of years old. Then on to Sainte-Madeleine-de-la-Riviere-Madeleine with its magnificent lighthouse. We stopped at a Belvedere (I learned that it means lookout) in Grande-Vallee for pictures of another village nestled in a bay. We visited an historic site where Marconi had established North America’s first maritime radio station in 1904
At Riviere-au-Renard (Fox River) we bought fresh turbot and fresh shrimp at a local fish market. A little later in the afternoon, while in L’Anse-au-Griffon we watched dozens of fish plant workers, mainly women, going home after their shift. It seems that the further east we travel, the more the locals rely on fish and fishing, rather than the tourist and artisan shops at the beginning of the Gaspe Peninsula.
Tonight we find ourselves camped in Forillon National Park of Canada (I add the words "of Canada" because if we go to a National Park here in Quebec, it means one of their provincial parks. Another lesson learned!). We are in the campground at Cap-des-Rosiers (Rosebush Cape) for 3 nights. The cape got its name from the many wild roses that have grown here for hundreds of years. Apparently sailors use this cape as the point that divides the St. Lawrence River and the Gulf. There have been many shipwrecks here, which resulted in a lighthouse being built in 1858 – the highest lighthouse in Canada
August 24th – Walk to Cap Gaspe
What a wonderful hiking day to Land’s End, Cap Gaspe (the easternmost point of land in the Gaspe) this has been. We drove to the southern area of the Forillon National Park, signed up for a whale watching tour tomorrow morning, and had the most interesting talk with the tour operator about Gaspe Bay and his love of whales and kayaking. He used to be a guide, taking tourists out kayaking among the whales. Older now, he is still involved with the whales and the sea. We talked about how precarious the balance of nature and the oil/gas business is. One oil well he spoke of is in the middle of the migration path of all local species of whales and dolphins. As the National Park pamphlet stresses “Harmony between man, land and sea”. Talking at length with this gentleman reinforced to us how important it is for all of us to work to keep it this way. So much is at stake!
Then we headed further east and hiked along the last stretch of the International Appalachian Trail, ending up at Cap Gaspe. We learned that the Appalachian Trail starts in Georgia and runs 3400 miles up the east coast to Maine
Arriving at Cap Gaspe, we were in awe with the beauty of the land and seascapes. It was windy up there, and gloriously sunny. Far below, we could see whitecaps racing on the Atlantic Ocean. We kept straining to see whales, our eyes deceived by the whitecaps. However, we did see some large seals playing and sunbathing in the waters directly below the cliff
Walking back down the trail, we met a retired couple who had been just ahead of us. Between my broken French and their broken English, we had a great conversation about bears, hiking, travelling the country, and retirement. He explained that “L’Anse” means “cove”, but we couldn’t decipher what “La Grave” means. These two words are everywhere 'round here. Do any of you know?
August 25th – Whale Watching Day
What can we say other than “What an amazing day!” We started out at 9am, back at noon and had a wonderful day on the water with humpback whales! They are incredible creatures!