Here’s the next part of our wonderful trip around the Gaspé Peninsula. You can read the first part here.
Day 5, Gaspé to Mont-Saint-Pierre
Today, it looks like the weather forecast is right. We leave in a light drizzle that hangs in the air, getting us wet but not soaking the ground. The result is that the dust rises all the same, and the drizzle makes it stick everywhere in a fine mud. I have to wipe my googles regularly to see the road, and by the end of the day my lens is badly damaged and will have to be replaced.
In the morning, we arrive in the heart of the region, which last week received 150 mm of rain in 24 hours. We come up against an impassable obstacle: a culvert has collapsed in the rush of water. A deep crevasse cuts across the width of the trail. At the far end, you can see the remains of a culvert made from wooden planks strapped together with wire. It wasn’t built yesterday! Digging into the topographical maps on his GPS, the guide leads us to a municipal road that will take us back to the trail. Unfortunately, this road has itself been washed away by the flood and is impassable.
Heavy rain has ravaged the area
With no other option, we have to take the road around this part of the trail to get to the restaurant. By the Saint-Laurent river’s edge, it’s eight degrees and the humid air from the open sea pierces my bones. I arrive frozen, and I’m glad to be able to warm up. This afternoon, I’ll dress in my warmest clothes. On the spot, we are informed that the path leading to the restaurant is also cut off. So, under the escort of two provincial police vehicles, we leave the restaurant to rejoin the trail a few kilometres further on. The chaotic situation that prevailed at the time of our visit is exceptional. The situation has since been restored.
So, as we re-enter the ATV trail network, we head up into the mountains where we come across large patches of snow. Tomorrow we’ll be in the Chic-Chocs, and all bets are off as to whether or not we’ll be riding in the snow. We head down to our hotel facing the Saint-Laurent river at around 6 pm. The restaurant is a little further on, and we could take our machines there. Mine is so dirty that I really can’t go near it with clean clothes. I’m not the only one with this problem, as we’re all walking there. Delicious meal, I really enjoyed it.
The machines are starting to suffer from the week, and we had several breakages during the day. The most serious being a broken ATV frame. Fortunately, the team found a garage that could repair it first thing the next morning. Now that’s Gaspé mutual aid!
Day 6, Mont-Saint-Pierre to Cap-Chat
That morning, we left later, the weather gray and misty. We had planned to spend some time at the top of Mont Saint-Pierre, where Benoit and I were married last year during the 2022 tour. We imagined celebrating our anniversary with a dance to our favorite song before setting off again. Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided to cover the landscape in mist and we didn’t even stop there.
We cross the Chic-Chocs in dense fog, where every turn is a surprise. Visibility sometimes drops below 10 metres. Our guide is particularly careful to point out the way ahead. Personally, it was the first time I’d ridden in such thick fog, and what’s more, my googles were constantly fogging up or drizzling. This made the experience very special, memorable and so intense that one participant joked, “I couldn’t see my steering wheel!” On the way back down, the mist dispersed, the weather cleared and we had dinner on the lakeside at the ilet, which must once have been a campsite or vacation camp. A beautiful spot. We arrive at the same time as a fisherman preparing his rod. When he saw 21 ATVs arriving, he left, no doubt hoping for more peace and quiet elsewhere, poor fellow.
Once again, our pace is too fast and our guide lengthens the route so that we don’t arrive too early at Cap-Chat, our last accommodation. There, we have plenty of time to discuss over an aperitif and a meal. The weather is gloomy, as the end approaches. Some are more tired than others and will welcome a well-deserved rest. Others, like me, would do a second round on the fly.
Day 7, Cap-Chat to Amqui
We leave the hotel with lunch and head down to Cap-Chat to the gas station. We’re starting to look like the pit stops of a racing team, so efficient is the refuelling of our 21 machines at two fuel pumps.
This was our shortest day in terms of mileage, to allow participants to return home. The weather is mild, and five days out of seven have been very sunny. We dined near a covered bridge in Saint-René-de-Matane, with only 50 km to go before the end of the ride. In the afternoon, about 15 km from Amqui, we stop one last time to say goodbye, because we know that once we’ve parked, it’s going to be more difficult. It’s already over, it went by like a flash. The balance sheet is 18 punctures, 3 trunks to repair, 2 damaged fenders, a radiator fan and 2 odometers down, 3 spare wheels used and one participant left the ride due to a health problem.
That’s the Gaspé Peninsula!
I met up with friends again, made new ones and once again enjoyed every kilometre of this tour, which I hope to do again next year. The people who make such an adventure possible, in addition to the great organizers, are the volunteers from every club we passed, who cut trees, packed rocks, repaired culverts, solidified paths and opened the road for all ATV riders in general. Thanks to them, our group injected some $70,000 into the local economy.
Gaspésie is a fantastic region for ATV riding. We are treated to the spectacle of the Gaspesian wilderness in all its splendour. The high mountains, the sea, the forests, the valleys, the crystal-clear rivers and the immensity of the space are a sight to behold. In the life of a quad enthusiast, the Gaspésia tour is a pilgrimage not to be missed.
Chantal Pelletier, Columnist