Ascent Trip Report
For this weekend, I wanted to explore the mountains just north of parc des Grands Jardins. Alain Côté had visited them the week before and had told me RTE 62 was manageable by car. I prepared a planning for two summits on Saturday with trailheads close together. In the morning, I woke up around 07:30 and got ready to leave by 08:30. I took the road, witnessing the absence of snow all along HWY 138, even at the highest point near Petite-rivière-Saint-François. I stopped for gas in Baie-Saint-Paul, then taking HWY 381 towards Saint-Urbain. There were a string of SUVs towing ATVs and touring motorcycles in front, making for slow progress. Outside of the village, we had to stop at a 5 minutes stoplight as there was some roadwork ahead. One of the SUVs seemed to dislike the bikes' cruising speed and drove up alongside them as we waited for the light. Of course, when the oncoming traffic arrived, they had to drive on the shoulder to get past that dumb driver. When the light turned green, both SUVs charged ahead of the bikes, cutting them off. That was some pretty dismal driving.
I passed the bikes on a safe straight and eventually caught up and passed the SUVs. Soon after that I reached RTE 62 and turned left. The surface was surprisingly good and the drive to the trailhead was straightforward. I passed over rivière Malbaie and it looked massively swollen. Just past kilometer 17, I reached the junction for RTE 627. I parked on the shoulder and got ready to head out. I packed my snowshoes and started off as Alain had told me he had needed them. The first part of the road was good, I could have driven on it, but when I went through a few bends and into a logging patch, I saw some snow banks on the road ahead. I was able to walk around them and kept ascending. On the way, I spotted a porcupine, lazily avoiding me on the roadside. I reached a crest and a junction that forked off to the left where the road bent right and dipped in a slight valley.
On the downhill, there were a few snow banks on the road but nothing I couldn't circumvent easily. I passed another junction, this time on the right, and wondered if it could have been used to save some distance. I opted to use the plan I had prepared instead of risking a dead-end. The road climbed gently and then circled around a bump, heading east. At a left bend, I saw a junction where I wasn't sure if it was the one I was looking for. I checked the road ahead and saw it diverged significantly so I followed the new path, going east. I saw a second porcupine here and a few minutes later, as I descended into a dip, I saw a massive sink hole on the road at the low point. When I reached it, I saw it was maybe 5 feet deep and spanned almost the entire width of the road. I carefully made my way past and started ascending.
I arrived at another junction and followed the road I was already on but realized a few hundred feet later that I should have taken the fork. I turned back and went the right way, passing a few junctions for logging patches as I made my way around a valley. I saw another porcupine somewhere on that stretch and when the road bent left, emerging in open ground on a broad bump, I got great views south and east. I reached another junction where I went left, getting quite close to the summit. When I started seeing logging ruts, I followed the clearest one I could find. The ground was strewn with debris and I soon found myself in a mild bushwhack. Then I merged with a quite good trail that led me to the summit bump, standing on the southern edge of the trail.
From there I decided to follow the trail back down which turned out to be much better than the ruts of the ascent. It led directly to the road and I was now heading on easy ground towards my trailhead. The way back to RTE 627 was uneventful and I saw one of the porcupines again. At the junction with RTE 627, I was surprised to see ATV tracks in the gravel. They hadn't been there on the ascent so someone had come through. When I reached the snowbanks, the tracks crossed them straight on. I seemed to grasp that the ATV had come up the road so they were probably still out there. At the last junction on the right, I saw a parked blue pick-up truck with tons of native themed stickers in the back window and a dreamcatcher hung on the rearview mirror. I kept descending and reached the trailhead shortly afterwards.
From there I drove east towards my second trailhead for mont du lac de l'Auge.