Ascent Trip Report
Following our ascent of mont du lac Trique, we drove about 5 kilometers north from the junction of RTE 66 and HWY 381. Our trailhead would be at another junction with a logging road. Just past lac à la Cruche, we crossed a large culvert and arrived at the junction where two large loaders were parked. We let two vehicles behind us pass before doing a u-turn and parking near the machines.
We finished preparing and put on the showshoes, anticipating a long slog up unplowed logging roads. It was now 12:15. I complained that for some unknown reason, I was not able to get the tracking I had prepared to display on my GPS receiver. At least the logging trails were shown on the map layers, but I know not to rely on this as they are often completely regrown. In Bill O’Reilly’s infamous words I thought to myself : "&$?@ it, we’ll do it live!"
We hopped the snowbank and Serge took the lead. He had put earphones on, as he says he does when faced with boring long distances, and broke trail at a moderate pace. The sun was high up and I was positively cooking. There was no wind and the snow was doing its usual reflector job. The grade was gentle, but it was a constant uphill. After the first right bend, we passed a junction with a sign indicating lac Emmuraillé.
I went in front at some point, breaking trail. It was pretty tiring, having to compensate for the mushy uneven snow, but I was feeling strong. The road kept going through a left bend and we could start to see summits in the background. Serge asked which one we’d be aiming for and I told him I thought it was a pretty distant bump we could see on the horizon. After a while the slope lessened and behind a slight right bend, we reached a chain gate. I saw a cabin in the woods to the right as we descended in a dip at the bottom of which we passed over a stream.
I tried to get a bearing as we paused on the bridge and said we had two options. Either follow some trails that switchbacked up the valley towards the ridge, either we saved some distance and cut directly uphill, bushwhacking. We followed a regrown trail for a short distance but it looked clear it wasn't going to be a cakewalk so we decided to try the bushwhack as the slope steepened slightly. At first the forest was relatively sparse but it became denser very quickly. The trees were dripping wet from the melting snow and I was getting soaked enough that I felt uncomfortable. At some point we reached the top of a small ridge from where we had a partial view of our destination. We saw we were somewhat off-course and headed more southwest. We went through what looked like a marshy area and old regrown logging trails before bushwhacking into denser stuff again. This wasn't the most enjoyable setting, probably closer to the worst I've seen this winter, but our spirits were still high.
We finally emerged on a newer trail that was only slightly regrown and headed south. It led to a junction where we could see we might have arrived to if we had used the trails from the start. We kept going, heading mostly southwest, on the easy trail that is still regrown enough to prevent driving on it. After a while, it made a sharp bend right and headed northwest. I could see on the map that the trails were supposed to continue north before switchbacking again towards our goal and we decided to, again, cut the distance by bushwhacking. The vegetation was now much sparser, at least, and it was much easier to cover the distance that led us on the trail that runs along the ridge.
We followed this wide path for a few hundred feet until it bent to the left and away from the summit. We went off-piste in a regrowing logging patch for some distance until we reached untouched forest. We went by a massive boulder, a curious sight on top of a laurentian mountain, and continued until we were on an obvious bump. There were partial views and we could see possibly higher terrain to our south. I marked a waypoint and we kept going, crossing a wide clearing. We followed what looked like logging ruts until we saw the terrain descend slightly on every side. It was clear this was the high point of the second bump and I put down a second waypoint. It turned out this one was slightly higher than the first and we took a short break at the summit.
To make sure this was the high point on a very flat summit, we headed north towards the clearing. No higher ground was found and we quickly were back on open ground. Then I spotted a red object towards the first bump and we realized, as we approached, that it was my jacket that had caught in some branches and slipped off my pack. I was glad we were retracing out footsteps. We quickly reached the ridge trail and followed it to our bushwhack where we kept following our tracks. Afterwards, back on the trail, we slogged it under a baking sun until we reached the four-way junction. The bushwhack uphill had been bad enough that we decided to try and follow the switchbacks downhill.
At first, it was easy to follow but when it started to get regrown more heavily, I considered cutting through the forest to another trail visible on the map. We headed in the trees and made our way to a path that was so old it was almost invisible. We followed this for some time until it was clear we'd have to bushwhack again. Heading east, it was a dense whack to a decent enough trail that led north. I eventually spotted our tracks on our left and knew we were almost out of the forest. Following the regrown trail, we made it back on the road, crossing the stream.
From there we had to go uphill to the cabin and then it was a constant downhill all the way to the trailhead. Serge was breaking trail, as the snow was mushy enough to make our earlier tracks sink anyway, and setting the pace. I zoned in and out on that boring stretch until we reached the junction to lac Emmuraillé. We could see cross-country ski tracks heading off on that trail. From the pole strikes, there were either two people still out there or a single skier that had already come out. We covered the rest of the distance and when Serge exclaimed as he spotted the two yellow loaders, I was happy this was over with. Nearer to the road, I saw a SUV parked in front of our car. The skiers were still out. As we stashed our gear and changed into dry clothes, I heard voices and greeted the elderly couple as they arrived. They had gone to lac Emmuraillé and back, skiing lac à la Cruche on the return. We chatted a bit before taking the road towards Québec.