Monday, October 22, 2007

Exploring Forillon National Park of Canada

I convinced Ed to join me on the 4 kilometer hike to the Cap-Gaspé by reminding him of how badly he’d feel if a park bear came after me in the Forillon National Park of Canada. He reconsidered and decided that whatever “paperwork” needed his attention could easily be handled later in the day. After all, it wasn’t even 8 AM.

We would go together. I packed two apples, half a Hershey dark chocolate bar, our #3 Rubbermaid Servin’Saver full of mixed nuts, and a giant bottle of water in our new L.L. Bean backpack. Then, I checked for the camera and binoculars. Got them! We were ready for a morning of unexpected surprises.

The Forillon National Park of Canada is rated by tour books as an exceptional park located at the eastern tip of the Gaspe Peninsula distinct of its "grandiose mountain, cliff, and sea viewscapes." And, although the Forillon National Park of Canada is open year-round, the ranger entrance shack was deserted this October morning. We drove onward to the trailhead at Anse-Aux-Amérindiens where we faced the choice: follow the gravel road or hike a trail at called The Graves. We headed up the wider, less rugged gravel road.

We hadn’t gone far when we noticed a sparrow hopping along the left side of the gray road. The bird stayed ahead of us by just a few paces. When we would come too close, it would fly barely knee-high and land several yards ahead. We’d get closer and it would fly ahead another 12 feet. This pattern continued for over a kilometer as if the bird took delight in showing us the way to the Cap of Gaspé. Our feathered guide abandoned us when we huffed breathlessly and sat on the log bench at the top of a steep climb.

We paused often to catch our breath and to gaze through the pines from the high road over the Gulf of St Lawrence. Beautiful! Whitecaps moved in linear patterns. Blue sky touched the rugged cliffs on the horizon. Occasionally, sea gulls glided into the wind. And, waves crashed into hidden coves far below. An interpretive sign reminded us that 200 years ago hardy French, Irish and others thrived as fishermen along this coastline.

We didn’t see another sign or human being along the way either until we reached our goal. Some might say that you don’t have to climb a mountain to know it height but we were determined to have the bragging rights to say we went to the end of the earth at Gaspé and where the International Appalachian Trail ends.

We had reached the Gaspé Lighthouse and overlook thinking we could go no further. But wait, a scenic overlook further down a trail promised a better look. It would be a steep climb back up. Was it worth the extra physical push? Yes, yes, an emphatic yes!Because of the incline, the trail first went inland and down. Then as if at the vortex of a “V”, the trail sharply cut to the right and faced the bay. The trail ended at a wooden deck the size found on nice suburban houses. A lone telescope was bolted to the deck floor and swiveled for a panoramic view of the gulf. To our delight, seals lounged on a rocky island mass below the cliffs of the Cap of Gaspé. I counted 26 on the rocks and four bobbing in the water. One of the ones lying on the rock rolled into another one sleeping nearby and received a slap with a flipper for this trespass. Others would raise their heads then lower them as if to say it was still nap time. This sight delighted Ed and I for nearly an hour before retracing our path back.
October 17, 2007

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