Day 11 – Moose & Squirrel

Sending a package to Canada from the US is really expensive. Maybe 50 dollars extra, it’s hard to remember. Nonetheless it had to be done. I won’t see a town for another 140miles.

The desk clerk at the visitor center looks me over, and says I’m the first thru hiker of the season to come through. Taking me down into the depths of their basement I’m worried. I sent all sorts of shit in this package to another country that you’re definitely not supposed to send. Batteries, multiple different kinds of liquids, unmarked bags of strange substances. Was I being brought to the arms of an officer or has everything gone smoothly?

My package is in good shape, and I’m happy to see it again. Food from home. Dehydrated fruits, and plenty of things I’ve been missing.

I do some quick calculating and figure I can hang out and try to charge my phone for another hour and still make the distance I want. A young family gets talking to me, and I mention that shortly I have to leave, otherwise I won’t have time to for 20 more miles today. They’re astonished, but I smile. I’ve already gone 5, it’s just a matter of time.

Making my way through a sea of tourists, this mountain is much harder to climb. Massive, fast flowing rivers, a result of snow melt I’m sure. Plenty of water in the form of lakes, and water falls as well. Bridges over streams, and large boulders to traverse.

There is almost no trail here, it’s just rocks. Hopping from one to another. It’s a ton of fun, although I’m sure a slip and fall would spell doom.

Earlier I saw a display case showing off medals for an ultramarathon that circumnavigates this mountain. Thinking of friends back home, and how much fun they’d be having doing this. It’s Mont Albert that I’m climbing, and the views are surreal. 360 degrees of rock formations poking up into the sky. Surrounded by giants, and here I am making my way to the top of one.

In the distance I can see more snow fields. This time not so docile either. To the left they drop straight down the mountain to certain death, and on the right they drop straight down into rocks, certain death. Unbeknownst to me just yet, the trail asks that I climb straight up.

No thanks. A little to far out of my comfort zone just yet. I’m from Florida, ya’ll. I’ll get there, but alone, and right now I’d rather not take a silly chance, and fall or put my foot through the melting snow into the rocks underneath. I find my way around to a much easier path up the ice. I can feel people watching me from great distances away, wondering what the hell I’m doing.

I make it through safely, and scale my way up talus as fast as I can to the top of the mountain. Everywhere here you’ll find signs saying to stay on the tral. It’s a very sensitive environment, the Quebec caribou are endangered, you’re up above treeline, and what do I see? At the top finally and way off trail I see a couple bathing in an alpine lake.

Making my way across the top of the barren landscape, and loving it. Just me, some rocks, lakes, and nothing else. If only the entire trail was like this, that would be absolutely fantastic. Has me dreaming of the Pacific Crest Trail, or the Continental Divide, or Colorado Trail….. those would consistently be a treat to be walking.

Down into the valley, now walking across boardwalk after boardwalk through a pretty meadow. I hear something over the podcast I’m listening to (thetrailshow of course,) I start filming just in case, and turning a corner what do ya know it’s a big moose munching on some grass. My first moose of the trip. I had been seeing thousands of their foot prints, I guess it was just a matter of time until I actually spotted one.

Getting closer to see if maybe I could pass by freely, that’s a big nope. She moves slightly, and my eyes get a great view of a baby wandering around behind her. Now everything I’ve read, and heard, except for one story from another hiker, has told me that moose are totally chill animals. All the locals say it too, especially during this time of the year they’re very well fed and won’t be a bother. But a big moose and it’s child? Again, not exactly a risk I’m willing to take right now.

I talk to it softly hoping it moves off. It doesnt, so I hang out and watch briefly, until she stomps her hooves a couple times, and makes some loud noises. I take that as a good reason to back off and give them space.

Sitting maybe 200 meters further away now, I question how long I should even wait, or what I should even do. Waiting here forever, another moose is bound to come up from a different direction, and I’d be stuck. After about 30 minutes I slowly creep forward, yelling greetings into the woods, hoping that gives the animal warning to move on.

It’s painfully slow going, and nerve wracking, but for my own personal piece of mind it has to be done.

No moose, good. Back to my normal pace, I come across a campground I was going to blow by, but instead I’m greeted by a backpacker wearing the same shoes as me. A good sign! Everyone else out here is wearing big heavy boots, and all I’ve got are these flimsy tennis shoes. We chit chat, and he’s very nice. The first to tell me that after I leave Gaspesie National Park, the next wilderness area is a total bitch. I kinda laugh it off considering all I’ve went through. He also confirms for me that I did the right thing, with my moose and child encounter.

The day is done, 25 in the book, and I’m camped with two other dudes down the trail. Being around so many people in this park has been nice, but I think I’m ready to see some thru hikers. Weekenders just aren’t on that same journey.

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