About a year ago we moved to a new neighborhood. One of the main reasons why we had chosen this one in particular was because it offered easy routes to get out of the city without being too far from the downtown area. There are exits to every highway out of the city less than 5 minutes away by car, and it is generally a good place to live if you want to get out often.
Getting out often is not something that we were doing, however, and it was not until this past thanksgiving weekend that we were able to rent a car for ourselves and get out of the city.
For this particular trip we chose to go to the Parc National du Mont Tremblant as we were familiar with the route. We packed our mountain bikes, a few clothes into our backpacks and were out of the city within 15 minutes.
Arriving to the park was easy, however, finding our campsite turned out to be a trip as long as the one we had taken to get to the park in the first place. It is easy to forget the dimension of things in Canada when you come from a country smaller than the province you live in. This park was no exception as we drove for a solid two hours to our campsite, set camp up, and waited for the sky to fall down.
With a forecast for a weekend with nothing but rain, we had prepared ourselves to be wet 100% of the time. By the time we made it there, however, rain had just started and was done by the time we made it to our camp site. After getting a fire going and realizing that the worst was yet to come as we saw no stars in the sky, we made our way inside the tent a few hours before the sky fell down.
Waking up was an interesting experience, as the rain had been falling for a few hours already but was only getting worse by the minute. Having some experience abandoning our campsites while we did some camping by bicycle, we did not hesitate to pack everything up and load it into our car this time around, with some hope of maybe finding out a cabin was available for the weekend in the park. We drove back to the nearest discovery center to find out that the rain the night before was much worse than we imagined, as several trees were completely blocking the road at many points on the way back. Getting out of the car to break and remove the fallen trees so we could proceed was a funny exercise and something I had not had to do in many years, yet we did.
As luck would have it, the rain stopped and the sun came out by the time we made it to the discovery center, where we found out our only option was to go back to our camping site. As we evaluated our options and wrapped the car in our tent to dry, we decided to go out for a bike ride towards some waterfalls nearby.
Mont Tremblant is a gorgeous place with massive amounts of water going through it. With 3 rivers running through it, there are plenty of lakes, waterfalls, and streams all over the place for any visitors to enjoy. With 3 neighboring towns it is also easy to get out of the wild for a split second and enjoy the pleasures of small adventure driven towns. In our case this involved us driving to St. Donat near the discovery center we were at, and spending some time refueling our tanks, literally and figuratively, before heading back to our campsite.
Once we were back at our campsite, we realized that the area where our tent had originally been set up was the only spot in the entire area that had collected any amount of water. We also realized several of our neighbors had also left their campsites for good. We pitched our tent in a much more logical place and then got everything going once more. The night was dry and the sky was starry this time around, and as we sipped on wine in front of the campfire’s light, we gazed at the sky and talked about the days to come.
It had been easily a year since we took some time off to be outside of the city and disconnect ourselves from work and daily life. Even though we have taken time off and even went on a similar trip, albeit with an unpleasant outcome, we felt as if we had only done this for the first time in a long time. It was at this point that we decided that this needed to be somewhat of a part of our routine. So to speak. The night went darker as we talked, and our fire went dimmer. We eventually went inside our tent to the sounds of birds calling for company and coyotes howling in the distance.
The next morning, our last at the park, had a much less hectic pace than the two previous ones — the first one preparing to leave to the park, and the second one preparing to escape the rain — as we calmly got a fire going, had breakfast, and eventually started packing up.
We were smarter this time in that we went outside of the park to drive to a different section, instead of driving through the small roads of the park, and were in a completely different section in less than an hour. We went for two very small hikes and saw a couple of waterfalls, with one of them being one of the biggest I have seen in the middle of a park.
Even though this was the thanksgiving weekend, which was also the last camping weekend of the season, we were lucky to enjoy very little people in the park overall thanks to the rain. We went on a much larger trip last year to Jacques-Cartier (we wrote briefly about this trip in our shared blog) and there were massive amounts of tourists there just to look at the colors. Not so much this time though, as the park was for the most part devoid of any life and running into anyone was surprisingly uncommon.
Once we were done hiking for the day, we rebuilt our mountain bikes and went on a gorgeous 14 kilometer loop through the southwest area of the park.
Even though we decided to invest in mountain bicycles to do more adventurous trips this year, we did not use them for this purpose as much as we would have wanted to, so this weekend was a good way to close the season and to start making plans for next year, or perhaps for the end of the year elsewhere. There are a few routes to do mountain biking in the park, which are mostly accessible by car, though we were happy to see there was a section reserved for cyclists looking to camp, which we used in other parks in the past. This is a good initiative parks in Quebec have, and something that I am sure many bike tourists and bikepackers appreciate when they find themselves in the middle of a park without a place to stay.
When all was said and done, we packed all of our gear on to go back home, albeit with a small stop at the village of Mont Tremblant to indulge in some food and coffee, and then were in Montreal no more than 2 hours later. It is good to know that the location we chose to live in is not only great to get in and out of the city by foot or bicycle, but that it also offers quick gateways out of town by car.
More adventures will come soon, which I am really looking forward to.