Following our ascent of mont du lac Warren, Serge stayed at my place on Saturday night as we needed to meet Sébastien and Martin around 07:30 at the Trane arena, 5 minutes away. We woke up at 06:45, got ready, and left around 07:25. We were the last ones to show up and we shook hands with everyone as we learned Sébastien’s friend Alex would hike with us. We left on HWY 138, heading for Baie-Saint-Paul, in Serge’s car while the three others took Martin’s. The drive was uneventful and we made it to the Sitec mine around 09:15. We parked in the plowed spot at the junction with the road leading to petit lac Malbaie and started gearing up.
I noticed then that I had forgotten to put map quadrants, waypoints, and tracks in my GPS receiver but it wouldn’t be an issue since Martin and Sébastien had done so themselves. We finished getting ready and hopped the snowbank where snowmobile tracks left north. At first I didn’t put my snowshoes on as the way was packed down, but our path diverged about 200 meters in on untouched snow. We started breaking trail on a road and passed by cabins on our right. It then bent right and we arrived at a dead end.
We headed west across the trees in what looked like sparser cover but quickly realized we could descend into the stream bed to our right. It was quite wide and easy to navigate and the main difficulty was from the deep snow. In many places, we could spot faint trails that seemed to cover the area. We followed the meandering stream and reached an open glade where we had to cross a small snow bridge over running water. On the other side, we followed a branch north that headed towards lac Rétréci.
The narrow stream went through a few bends through a forested area and then emerged in a wider marshy clearing. At the north end of that clearing, we searched for the small stream that goes up in a gully south of mont du lac Rétréci’s summit. It wasn’t too difficult to find and we headed north in its bed. A few hundred meters later, we looked for a suitable path towards our goal and headed right, straight uphill. It wasn’t a particularly dense bushwhack but I opted to wear my shell as there was some snow falling off trees. The slope started moderate but eventually became steeper although never extreme. There were partial views along the way, but it was mostly forested.
The summit was no different and we started downhill again quickly. Getting back to the stream was easy and as soon as we were out of the trees, I removed my shell and stashed it. It took only a few minutes before we were back at the main stream and breaking trail again towards lac Rétréci. From there, we would be heading towards our second goal, mont du lac Claire.