Day 12 & 13 – Leaving Gaspesie

I come across a woman very late in the day. Strange, mostly because everyone is already in camp by 3 or 4 here. I’m the only one out walking late, even though it’s not dark until 9pm. I ask the prerequisite question, “Are you hiking the SIA?”

No, unfortunately just a long day. I crave other thru hikers now, what’s the trail like ahead? Only they know. Although she tells me of her friend Marie-Anne who is, and how we should be running into each other very soon. This makes me happy.

Sleeping under my tarp for the 3rd time this trip is weird. I really don’t even need a shelter for both the Appalachian Trail and the International Appalachian Trail. Up here there are wooden refuges, and lean-tos every 10-15k, and on the AT there are shelters every 10 miles or so. It’s incredibly convenient. I don’t have to set up anything, I can roll in very late, dump out my things, go to bed, and pick up in the morning takes about 10 minutes to get going again. I’m totally hooked, and really I do love my tarp. These shelters are just so damn nice. No rodents either! Very unlike the AT.

In the morning it’s raining, and sure enough here comes a smiling face. I ask, of course, if he’s hiking the SIA. He is! We share secrets of the trails ahead, since I’m heading in the opposite direction as everyone else this works perfect. He is now the second person to tell me that Matane, the wilderness area I’m heading into, is BRUTAL. I still am reluctant to believe for whatever reason.

Moving on, the rain still falling, I seek refuge in a shelter to dry my feet a little. Moving on again, the wind picks up, and the clouds roll in. I can no longer see very far in front of me, but here again comes two folks. Still in Gaspesie but on the very outer edge at this point it’s unlikely, in this weather, and this place, that they’re just out for a couple days. Sure enough, they two are hiking the SIA.

It’s a father and daughter, and I’m not sure the dad speaks english because me and his girl are trying to exchange words and he keeps motioning to keep moving. As if they’ll find another hiker ahead to get this valuable info from. Maybe he just thought I was crazy. In this storm all I’ve got out currently is my tiny umbrella. They on the other hand, rain pants, rain jackets, and pack covers. Maybe I am crazy.

The dad wins and they leave me. I figure it’s time I get out my poncho before I reach the top of the mountain and it’s really bad.

The wind picks up again, and I’m pressing forward to the peak, questioning again my sanity. Poncho now blowing every which way, although still managing to keep my dry and warm. Yelling into the storm like a true madman, grinning ear to ear. Reaching the top, only to find its somewhat of a dangerous ridgewalk. I crouch lower, and plant my feet down, making my way past the edge, catching my breath again as I come across little patches of total mangled trees. The wind made them this way. I’m to stubborn to let the wind do the same to me.

Naturally this isn’t the end, as I cross more talus like the other day, up and up. Following cairns. Any other trail marker that had been installed up here is long since destroyed. Remembering a friend telling me about the amazing views off these mountains. I wouldn’t know, it’s all white.

Eventually leaving Gaspesie the trail finally goes down. I made it. No longer up in the clouds, no longer is the wind trying to blow me away. The trail is now straight down, without relief. I’m now in Matane. It’s now time to see if what I’ve been told is true. Will this be the most harrowing section of the International Appalachian Trail?

Arriving at my campsite for the night, it’s 8:30 and I scare some love birds who almost look as though they’re living in a tent here. Big cooler full of food, bags full of food. A coffee press. Everything. And no offer to me. Oh well. Beans for dinner again.

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My phone was mostly dead for the next couple days, I apologize for the lack of photos.

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