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Published: March 18th 2011
(Contributing Photographers-Michael Weinstein and John Carson: Many thanks)
The motel owner was cooking breakfast for us the next morning. We discussed our travel options and it was agreed that the only viable option was to backtrack our previous travels to get back to Riviere du Loup on Friday evening for a Saturday departure for home. We couldn't go any other way and still make it back Friday. It was very disappointing because you could see how wonderful it would have been to be able to complete the whole tour. We just had rotten luck with the blizzard and the aftermath of it.
We went through the mountains yesterday in the dark, so at least we would get to see some of the best scenery in the Gaspe Peninsula in daylight on our ride back from Mont Louis to Matane. The trails were nice and smooth. Riding was excellent. We rode again to La Martre to gas up at Gilles Ouellet's station again, trying to pay him back again in business for his hospitality. It was close to lunch time so Gary inquired with him about anywhere in La Martre we could get lunch. His wife told us about a
place a couple blocks down that would feed us.
The place turned out to be a general store. The proprietor was a middle aged woman and I was negligent in getting her name. Her husband and another employee proceeded to set up a dining room for us in a storage area. They pulled together a couple tables and found chairs to seat all seven of us. The lady did her own baking and she had some beautiful rolls out on top of the meat counter. A couple of us grabbed them after getting her permission. We all grabbed something to drink from the store and the lady brought in a big platter of the home baked rolls and butter. We dove in like we hadn't eaten in days. There's nothing I like better than fresh home baked bread. My cousin's grandmother on the south side of Chicago baked bread every day and it is one of my favorite childhood memories eating her hot bread fresh from the oven in her tiny kitchen. The bread was delicious.
The lady then brought out bowls of homemade soup for everyone--again--delicious. She managed in French to let us know that we could
have sandwiches as long as they were ham (jambon) or pastrami. We feasted like kings. It was a very wonderful, impromptu event. The food was great and, once again, the hospitality was warm and friendly.
After lunch we once again had excellent riding on smooth trails. The scenery continued to make me slow down and enjoy it. We stopped at a lookout with a great view of a mountain valley leading into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The mountains just south of here and in our view are the Chic-Choc Mountains. These are a part of the Notre Dame Mountains, which is a continuation of the Appalachian Mountains. Most of these mountains are within the National Park of the Gaspesie. The tallest of these is Mont Jacques-Cartier at 4,160 ft. I selected the GPS screen which showed elevation and the highest I saw on the trail was 1,795 ft. At the end of our trip, we talked with 2 groups of snowmobilers that tried to go through here the day after the blizzard. They both encountered avalanches. One group had an avalanche right in front of them with their first sled close to being swept away. Both groups were
forced to turn around and find roads to ride to bypass this area. We could see where the mountain drifts were broken through by the groomers.
True to the course of bad luck that this group had for the entire week, we encountered a very drifted area about 10 miles from Matane. It had gotten very windy during the day and this was a wide open area---the same area where the sleds got stuck the day after the blizzard. John was leading at the time and he came back to tell me that he had encountered a drifted area that was going to be tough to get through. He had made it through and turned around to warn us to be ready for it. I managed to get through some drifts, thinking that this isn't that bad. Then I came up on an 8 foot wall in the middle of the trail! I thought to myself "just give it hell", but I just couldn't gain enough speed and the camber of the drift threw me off the sled. The guys managed to pull me out relatively easily and after I got to the other side, I turned around to
see that another sled got stuck. Once again, Super John went into his "ride 'em out" mode. I think everyone got stuck coming through here. I also think we have set a record for stuck sleds on one trip. Why should today be any different? It was now dark by the time we got the last one out.
Thankfully, we didn't run into any more drifts in the last 10 miles and made it back to the Riotel in time for supper. Tanya said we should rename this tour "The Riotel Matane Tour." This will be our fourth night at the Riotel. Thank God it's a great place!
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