Looking to get out of Dodge? Tired of skiing the endless powder of Vermont? Don’t forget that our friends to the north in Québec know how to do it right when it comes to skiing. This February CTA members Pat Sabalis and Tif Crowell traveled north to participate in the Traversée De La Gaspésie, a weeklong ski tour on the Gaspé peninsula. Pat and Tif generously shared their trip blog with us, and we thought it sounded like something CTA’ers might enjoy. Here are some snapshots from their trip:
Tif and I traveled to the Gaspe Peninsula (“Gaspesie” in French) to take part in the Tour de la Gaspesie (TDLG), a week of cross country skiing in the mountains and from town to town. I’d known about this event for a few years and persuaded Tif to give it a try this year. Gaspesie is the eastern-most point of Quebec where the St. Lawrence River flows into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. There is a national park that includes the Chic-Choc mountains, which are part of the Appalachian mountain chain. The TDLG began 13 years ago when a small group of friends took a tour. Over the years, it grew and grew. This week 225 people will participate in the tour.
I thought I would include some maps to orient my readers to Gaspésie’s location in Quebec, and the location of our stops on the peninsula.
(On the drive north) We passed exits for Quebec City to the north and had our first views of the tumultuous ice heaves of tributaries of the St. Lawrence River…
The scenery became more textured. There were more trees (poplar, beech spruce, cedar) and craggy hills with trees sprouting from the rock. We were treated to a movie about caribou in the Gaspesie that went on forever. It started to snow lightly around 11:00. At 11:30, the highway narrowed to one lane each way. I don’t know what the bus driver took to keep awake, but I would have fallen asleep at the wheel long ago. Route 20 soon ended and we got on a two lane route 132. The land again became flat and bare, isolated trees silhouetted on the horizon, brushy windswept fields and snow drifts. The road snaked through small towns and the occasional traffic light. It is obviously the main route with numerous oncoming tractor trailers sweeping by…
After completing their bus journey, Pat and Tif embarked on a series of group day tours, which included a variety of cultural events as well as cross country skiing. Here are some excerpts from their days on trail.
The bus took us up the road a few miles to the trailhead where we were met by the cheerful morning accordionist.
After a nice rolling trail in the woods, we climbed steeply to power lines, followed them a short way and returned to the woods. Another long steep descent and we were at the first pointe d’eau (water stop), manned by Gilles (a TDLG employee). Back in the woods, we soon entered a park where a shelter with wood burning stove was full of local folks with all kinds of food from sweets to smoked salmon. The next stop was at the shore where piles of ice accumulated in and around the rocks. Beautiful.
(On another day:) It was sunny, cold and pleasant with nice views across the bay to the cliffs of Forillon National Park. Gaspé came into sight. Volunteers greeted us at the end with cold beer — Coors Light of all things! I guess a light beer was appropriate since we skied less than 20 kms.
(On another day:) The day dawned cold and clear. Percé Rock, a massive limestone stack 473 yards long, 98 yards wide and 96 yards at its highest point, was a beautiful sight in the morning. Some sources claim that it is the most famous natural attraction in Quebec.
The drifts from the previous day’s storm were amazing.
…As we got close to the city, Sylvie stood alone on the ice playing her accordion. She wore the “uniform,” a long parka with a fur trimmed hood. It seemed that all the men and women working on the TDLG wore these parkas, which looked perfectly appropriate in Gaspésie, but would look like overkill in Vermont.
A group of schoolchildren were on the ice to greet us and a band on the bridge started to beat its drums. It was a long, slow, and very cold slog across the windy bay. The Gaspé peninsula is a windy place. I saw a provincial flag flying straight out in breeze. All that was left was the hem closest to the pole and some shreds. I read in the literature at the Gite that the wind on the peninsula is a nearly constant presence and there are only about 8 days a year with no appreciable wind.
Finally, we climbed up the bank into the city, and skied on the main tourist street to the beat of drums, where local folks had gathered to slap our hands and cheer.
Congrats Pat and Tif on completing the Tour De La Gaspésie!
For a more detailed account of Pat and Tif’s journey, check out their blog Second Wind Cycling Click here to learn more about the Traversée De La Gaspésie. If you are looking for a group ski tour on this side of the border, check out the CTA’s Multi-Day Tours.
See you in Gaspé!