Day 0 – The long road to the start

Waking up in a cold Quebec airport at 3am isn’t exactly my idea of fun, but that’s when the United lady said they’d open again, so there I was. As if I had a choice. The flight had long been payed for, they just wish to run me through security again. I don’t blame them.

This place had been empty the past 10 hours. Now, long before daylight, hundreds of french speaking Canadians have swarmed what was my quiet space. I gathered that they were all leaving in an hour for Toronto. I on the other hand still had yet another 6 hours to walk around the very small airport before my flight to Gaspe would arrive. Mostly trying to not look suspicious, in reality stumbling to different seats and tables, falling asleep. A 22hr lay over, and a glass of beer was 10$. I had no choice but to sleep.

A lady goes on about how her son has a 2 story house, a wife, and a steady lobstering job at the age of 24, she follows up with how she would slap me if I were her son, for doing what I’m doing. She’s seemingly the only person here that doesn’t speak french, unfortunately. Lived in Quebec all her life. I can’t imagine, never picking up the dominant language. Seriously everyone here speaks french, and seemingly most don’t know english. How could you live?

From one incredibly small airport to another. I am reminded yet again how amazing it is to fly. Looking down on clear blue lakes, and meandering rivers. Canadian country roads that appear so haphazardly placed it could be a puzzle. Soaring above the clouds free to observe the light hues our atmosphere creates when there’s nothing left but dust.

My last flight before I begin walking. 2 days travel at 450mph to do what will take me the next 6 months to reverse on foot. It’s off to a good start, I’m in some special seating, no one next to me, no one in front of me, and I’m able to kick my legs up and really stretch, while the sardines behind stare on at the stupid American up front.

This particular airport doesn’t get many commercial flight. Only 2 a day at most, and only via propeller plane. The building is smaller than my parents home. Me and maybe 5 others get off here.

I made it! Freedom! Finally! No longer couped up in an airport, no longer with anything to do other than to walk. Given my shit understanding of kilometers j had previously gathered I have about 34 miles to walk from the airport, to the official start of my journey.

Immediately cursing myself for printing such poor directions for this first step. Why do none of the roads have signs? I’ve only walked 200 ft and it’s already unclear where to go. Note for next time. If before you leave on a trip, you’re already calling your map crude, it’s going to be especially crude once you’re trying to rely on it. Come to think of it, I’ll likely be cursing myself once again 400 miles from now in New Brunswick.

Walking to Gaspé is exciting, and wonderful, and why are there beautiful women everywhere riding bikes? I don’t know, but this place is great, and i love it here. Greeted by wide open waters, and a view of the city in the distance. Walking through valley roads, now for the next 20 miles to be walking along the coast.

Everyone has prime real estate here. From the ice cream place to one of a hundred car mechanics. They’re all overlooking the water, up in the mountains, and just a skip away from a national park. I quickly create the game “I would live there,” where I point out every home that I would happily reside. It’s truly never ending.

Quebec is beautiful in so many ways. If only I spoke french, I probably would take much longer getting through these areas. I still wonder how to pronounce Bonjor properly. I do enjoy the back and forth of it though. They say Bonjor, I say hello. They say Merci, I say you’re welcome.

Although today has been exclusively a roadwalk, I have no complaints, it’s an area you really have to see for yourself. It’s incredible here. I almost feel like I’m going to see a moose before I even enter the mountains. Wild, yet inhabited.

Today I walked 23 miles on asphalt, and I have 11 more to go tomorrow before the journey truly begins. Which brings me to the question, if you yourself were to wish to hike the International Appalachian Trail…. should you too, do this walk, or get a ride (I think there are buses.) I want you to consider it, but i wouldn’t recommend it. Along the way there has been multiple options for lodging, lots of amazing views, but the obvious downside, you’re walking a thin line next cars. I personally would do it again.

Well my dear reader, tomorrow is the big day. Tomorrow I begin the Eastern Continental Trail, and arrive at Cap Gaspé. The first steps in the long journey home. It’ll be nice to be off this road, and up in the mountains I’ve been looking at. For now, I’m at a really amazing hostel for the night in the very small town of Cap-Aux-Os (I tink.) It’s a pretty good stopping point, only 11.5 miles away from where I want to be.

Tomorrow will likely be another 20miles total. The first 400 miles of this trip, I will do what feels best, but am trying to keep that pace. Slow and steady, honestly.






I would live there.




12 thoughts on “Day 0 – The long road to the start

  1. You get free French lessons just from the (infrequent?) road signs. Your career with the Canadian version of AAA is now a possibility. Following your journey. (Don’t) break a leg, so to speak. Hike on!


  2. I think I’d live there, too- what a view. I’m already loving your story. Hope you are able to keep sending frequent episodes.
    *you can always start lobstering next year!


  3. If you’re ever in a pickle to speak the language, give me a call. I’ll help you out. I have family out there, although I haven’t spoken to them since i was 16yo… The roads are awful, you’re right but the woods and the Canadian Appalachian are pretty! Safe journey!


  4. Love your descriptions, looking forward to reading it all…bon marché and à votre santé…pardon my poor French, couldn’t resist, would so love to be fluent. Anyway, have a great walk James, I’m drinking a toast to your good health!


  5. Jupiter. Good luck on the journey. Please keep the posts coming! The first one was very humorous. We are trekking part of the OTL in your honor this weekend.



  6. Now that’s an inspiring start. You are an elite ultra hiker and your writing is starting to catch up.
    Thank you for taking us there…


  7. Pingback: New Florida Trail speed record set | Florida Hikes!

    • Realistically you can take a bus or train from montreal or quebec city to at least matapedia, which is the southern terminus of the QC IAT. I think there are also buses that go to Gaspe. Which is the airport I eventually flew into. Remember, all French.


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