Adventuring 2 weeks on the eastern coast of Quebec
As much as I can, I try to discover as much of my home country as possible.
Last year, I had the opportunity to spend two weeks in Eeyou Istchee Baie-James in Northern Quebec, and this year I was lucky enough to spend two weeks discovering the east coast of Quebec with my husband and service dog, Alo. I don’t remember the last time my husband and I had the opportunity to go on a trip together considering he works a lot, and finally having two weeks off, we decided to pack up our little corolla, and head east.
Before I describe to you this itinerary, this was not a sponsored trip. It’s very rare, that I get sponsored opportunities, as a freelance photographer one thing I know is, you just got to get out there, make the most of it and hopefully when you get back, have the opportunity to sell, share your work with companies.
This time around, I was not as successful to have had my work from this particular series showcased, I decided to share on my blog my adventure and hopefully inspire those who have been thinking about discovering this part of the province, and let me tell you this: IT IS SO WORTH IT!
My husbands vacation dates always fall on the busiest times of the year, which in this case was construction week. Knowing that, we booked our camping spots 6 months prior our trip to make sure we would have the opportunity to visit the places we’ve been longing to. I expected crowds packed everywhere and was a little nervous about my social anxiety, but we were very lucky to find ourselves very distant from the crowds.
Day 1 and 2
We left very early on a Sunday morning to head towards a park we have been wanting to go for way too long: Saguenay National park. It was about a 6hour drive, and we did not stay at the popular park entrance, but rather the quieter one which is along Baie Sainte-Marguerite. The reason why, well a part from my anxiety, the campsite locations are just breathtaking. The area is also very common to see the Belugas, but sadly we did not see any. With a lot of hiking planned in our schedule, we decided to spend the time here relaxing and taking advantage of the beautiful beach which was only a one minute walk from our campsite.
One thing to note: the camp sites are situated about 2.3km from the main entrance. SEPAQ offers a wagon to help bring your stuff, but I highly recommend to bring your bike to haul the wagon because we did it on foot and it was quite an adventure! Hahahaha, all jokes aside, I really enjoy these types of campsites because usually you have more privacy between sites and it’s a lot more quieter.
The first night, we took things easy, I was very sick with mental illness and so once the tent was set up, I went for a nice swim and we ended the night with a fire, some Happy Yak and some smores.
The second day I woke up very early to catch the sunrise and walk around with my camera. I left Alo with my husband who was still sleeping and went for a walk to see the Beluga lookout which is about 1km if not less from our camping spot. There were no Belugas sadly, but it was a beautiful and very accessible walk overlooking the Baie Sainte-Marguerite.
We then had a slow breakfast, over the fire (once again with our delicious Happy Yak) and after we went for a small hike, checked out the Beluga lookout (again hahahah) and then spent the day on the beach. Expect to see a lot of chipmunks and bunnies, they are very sociable and you can easily spot them as they just happen to cross your path within feet. Even with Alo by my side, they seemed to be not scared at all. There might of not been any whales in the area during our stay, but I was very happy to have the opportunity to photograph these little creatures pretty much everywhere we were.
We ended the day watching the sunset, and it was incredibly stunning. Although it was high season, we were pretty much the only ones on the beach. I had my camera out and was taking so many photos in different angles and styles, taking full advantage of the light. I felt so inspired, especially when a family of loons arrived, calmly drifting by with the purple - pink hues coming from the sun and sky. It was our last night here, and we honestly couldn’t of asked for a better way to end our 48h stay in this part of the region.
We woke up at 5am to pack up our stuff and hurry back to the car to make it on time for our ferry from Les Escoumins towards Trois Pistoles. We were very tired, had no breakfast or coffee, and during the ferry ride which took about one hour, we were just thinking about the Timmies we were going to get once we reached the other side. The ferry took us across the Saint-Lawrence, and it's also the perfect opportunity to keep your eyes peeled to see marine life. Again, we were unlucky and saw nothing, but it was still a beautiful boat ride.
Once arrived in Trois Pistoles, we took the time to stop for a nice coffee and breakfast at your typical Tim Hortons. and from there we stopped at the local grocery store to stock up on some snacks, and dinner. Because we were in the region of Bas Saint-Laurent, it was inevitable for us to stop at a fishery store to purchase some fresh caught Halibut for dinner the same night.
Our next location was Bic National Park. We decided to step it up, by renting a Huttopia tent (glamping style) for the one night. It allowed us to store our food in a fridge, have access to decent cooking accessories and especially, a bed! Our focus was to see the seals, Jonathan never saw them and I was so excited to be able to show him these awesome looking animals.
We walked the trail leading towards the seal lookout, and from there we walked to the tea house to have a snack and of course, some tea. The park is quite small compared to the other SEPAQ parks, but it is completely stunning. Nice walking paths accessible for everyone with some spectacular view points.
One of the important things I highly suggest, is to talk to the staff and rangers at the parks. For instance, when we were at the seal lookout point, I had a long discussion with the ranger and he gave us some great tips on where to find seals during the sunrise. Because we were only there for one night, we wanted to take full advantage of the park and try to capture some of the authentic timeless images that would define Bic national park.
So once again, we woke up very early to catch the sunrise, made some coffee and walked down to the bay where the ranger told us we would be able to see some seals. And we did! With the beautiful hues of the sunrise, I was able to capture some stunning photographs of the seals on their rocks enjoying the morning.
As we got to the location we were greeted by a porcupine which is always exciting. (well for me anyways).
We spent a couple of hours there, watching them, and listening to their grunts. After it was time to pack things up, have breakfast and hit the road for the next location.
Day 4 to 6
This time we were on the road to one of the most spectacular SEPAQ parks, Gaspesie National park. We booked our campsite for three nights in the Mont Albert sector. This park is known for their wild hikes, and we were ready for three intense hiking days. It was about 4 to 5 hours from Bic National park, once we arrived and set up our tent and gear, we decided to head out for a difficult 5km hike up Mount Xalibu. I love hard hikes, with high stunning views, but my husband found it quite demanding. We took our time and it was cool to see the change in temperature as we were getting higher and higher. I was glad to have brought my Patagonia sweater to wear once we were at the top.
The following day was a difficult day for my mental health. We decided to take things easy, hang out in our hammock, and do small walks to see the waterfalls, rivers etc. I think it’s important to take some days to simply relax without over tiring yourself, especially if you are dealing with mental health difficulties. In this case we hung around, went for a little drive and mentally got ready to hike up Mont Albert the following morning.
Our last full day we woke up and took off to hike up one of my highlights, Mount Albert. It is one of the highest mountains in the region (let alone Mount Jacques-Cartier) and we left extremely early to catch the sunrise mid hike. I always enjoy waking up early and hitting the trails before everyone else. It’s calmer and I feel more grounded. This is a very difficult hike, but as long as you take your time, and have lots of water and snacks, I believe it can be quite accessible. The first view point, brings you to this nice point over looking the Gîte, which is a very luxurious hotel in the park. (Maybe one day we will have the opportunity to stay there! HAHAHA).
Now one of the reasons I wanted to absolutely hike Mount Albert, is because it’s one of the homes of the last remaining mountain Caribou. AKA. My favorite animal, sadly we did not see any, because they are currently found on Mount Jacques-Cartier, however it was really cool to be able to step through their habitat. Once again, the hike was quite demanding, but stunning. We got to see the change from the woodlands, to the more ‘‘arctic toundra like’’ territory. Once at the top we made it to the far lookout point which is another km walk (but very accessible) and saw some snow! It was pretty awesome to see and we enjoyed the view while having a Happy Yak breakfast.
Day 7 to 9
After one week of camping, we packed up our tent and headed out to Percé to stay in an Airbnb. Of course camping is fun, but when you haven’t had a real shower and bed, it’s nice to have a little break. Originally our plans was to stop on the way to Forillon National park, but it was 30 degrees and way too hot for Alo. So we drove through the park and ended up in Percé where it was a bit cooler. I was tired, and I have to admit, Percé is a beautiful village, but extremely touristic with loads of people. I was feeling sick and we were waiting patiently for our room to be available so that I could rest.
But it’s never a true adventure if everything goes to plan! And this case, even tho I mentioned about 3 times at our airbnb stay that I have a medical service dog, the owner was extremely mean and aggressive and would not let us stay at his place. I had a panic attack when I tried to explain that we have messaged him plenty of times to warn about my service dog and him saying it was okay, but once on sight it was a total different story. As I was panicking, and Alo was trying to calm me down, he shot an aggressive look in my eyes quoting ‘‘I don’t care about the law and your disease, take me in court! ‘‘ and I walked out to sit on the porch crying, exhausted and scared about trying to find a place to stay during the busiest summer weeks in Quebec.
Luckily, the co owner of the Airbnb came in and herd the confrontation and was extremely disgusted about what happened. She came out on the porch to calm me down and offered us to stay at her place. My husband and I agreed because everything was booked and sold out, but we felt incredibly uncomfortable staying in someones house.
Once we arrived, I was completely gone in my head. Multiple panic attacks, exhausted from our 6h drive and 4hour wait until getting refused. We finally made it to the house which was quite far from where we wanted to be, but at this point we were just happy to have a place to stay. I took a shower, put my pajamas on, watched a little TV before falling asleep without even having dinner.
The following morning we went out for a walk to the closest beach with Alo. I started calming down although, my heart was still pumping. We then went to Percé to spend the day walking around and taking advantage of souvenir shopping. While we were there, I had the opportunity to meet up with my service dog trainer to do a one hour training session that went extremely well.
Day 10 and 11
After Percé, we took the road and drove back towards Quebec city to camp at Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier. It’s one of my favorite parks because of the scenery. We camped at Morillon campground which is one of the furthest camping spots. It was calm, we went for a swim in the river and head back to our tent where it started to pour rain. It rained all night, and my husband was not to impressed by the rain. The next morning everything was soggy, but it was also our last morning. We packed up our stuff and hit the road back home.
We arrived home around noon, and it felt good to be back in our apartment after full 11 days of adventuring. We were tired, but it was all well worth it. We might of not had the opportunity to see as many wildlife as we wanted, but the views, hikes and activities we did were all well worth it. It was our first time experience that end of the province and from hearing so many positive feedback s from the area, we surely approve that the eastern coast of Quebec is just simply breathtaking.