Friday, August 3, 2012

Sentier des crêtes, vers le pic de l’ours, Parc National du mont Orford

     What is it with us and long hikes on high humidity days? I assume I’ll figure it out some day. In the meantime, here is a brief overview of an exceptional adventure. For all intents and purposes, this was my first difficult hike, ever. This proved both very challenging physically and helped create a great sense of accomplishment, although we only actually went on half of the sentier des crêtes.
     The path is reached by going to the community center parking lot in the Orford National park. It is a fairly simple drive to it from anywhere in southern Quebec. Afterwards, a mere kilometre and a half on bike path number nine separates you from the natural beauty of this trail.

     The path itself is very technical. By that I mean rocky, uneven and often times, steep and narrow. The higher reaches of the trail are attained fairly quickly and some great viewpoints are swiftly reached. The suggested time for that section of the trail is five hours. This may not apply to you if, like us, you enjoy taking your time.
  The first point of interest on this trail has no name and is located over 500 meters in elevation. It is located 125 meters off the path and is well worth the small detour. You will reach an excellent viewpoint, overlooking Stukely Lake. You’ll see nearby hills and get a distinct feeling that the view never ends. It only gets better from there.
     The next major stop, called Rocher fendu provides 270 degrees of pure bliss and relatively stable ground to enjoy it. We stopped here for several minutes, filming, taking pictures and generally enjoying the heck out of the place. At this point, a drop leads you across a narrow pass and over to the next unnamed viewpoint. From there, a difficult hike up leads you over to the pic de l’ours. The views were excellent and the breeze was very welcome, as the wind was almost absent from the difficult stretches of uphill trekking.
     Once again, there were no garbage cans to collect trash, but people here were better at picking up after themselves. We were able to hang our hammocks in a grassy knoll bellow the large rock formation that gives the place its name. That area was sheltered enough that we could use our cooking gear safely, and the ground was level enough that no spillage actually occurred, this time.

     Since this hike didn’t have an elevator at the end, we had to travel back. It was a long way down. Needless to say, we were pretty tired near the end. Out came the hammocks again, for a well needed rest. I cannot describe the pure enjoyment of using a hammock on a long hike to get some rest. I strongly suggest it.Overall, this was an amazing experience. Next time: mont Orford itself, over 800 meters tall. Until next time, farewell and stay safe on your own adventures.

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