Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Porcupines at the End of the World

Driving into Gaspe was like being sucker-punched with a double dose of beauty.  The highway hugged the coastline for hundreds of kilometers and wound delicately through coastal villages blessed with breathtaking vistas.  It ranks easily in my top 5 best drives of all time.  It would rank in the top 3 had I not been once again punched, but this time with an Atlantic uppercut of a storm.  There was a good forty minutes where I thought I was going to drive into a moose and then ricochet off said moose into the steep valleys lining the highway's most easterly end.

Obviously I made it.

I arrived around 10pm on the fourth of July and was greeted warmly by Audrey and Yannick, young francophone couchsurfers who agreed to take my low budget anglophone butt in from the raging storm.  They were cordial and polite and covered in some wild tattoos.

The next day after helping Yanncik with some backyard clean up duties, we went off to the beach where we met up with a couple of their friends, Guyaumme and Jean-Michel (or Mitch as he liked to be called).  We had some pleasant conversation on the beach, but I felt held back because of the language barrier.  Their english was far better then my french, and we made do.  I really truly wish I was fluent in French.

Yannick mentioned that there might be a job available cooking here in town with him but I politely declined stating that I am enjoying my new found occupation as a road scholar to be far more fulfilling.

We headed back to there house and they whipped up some Gaspe home cooking.  Yannick at 23 is a very accomplished and gifted cook.  I have had a fair bit of game meat in my life and never has it been prepared so perfectly.  We had bbq venison and moose roast accompanied with a delicious potato avec confi.  Superbe!

After eating some of the local wildlife I decided it my be a good idea to see some at Forillion National Parc, and headed out with my new-used boots and a day pack.  After a beautiful scenic postcard drive I payed my $7.80 to enter the park and proceeded to drive to where the Iroquois thought was "the end of the world". 
The hiking trail hugged the rugged slopes and meandered up and down with the ridges.  To the south the cold blue ocean teemed with a small pod of whales.  Their deep exhales punching through the silence and quickening my heartbeat.  I have never seen a whale in the ocean, needless to say, it is a beautiful thing. 

I made my way to the tip of the penisula where the view made me feel like I was Harrison Ford in an epic adventure film.  The 4k hike, mostly uphill was worth every bead of sweat.  I began my return descent with the sun's rays fading beyond the rolling hills and valleys of this awe-inspiring landscape.  I kept hearing the "wooosh" of whales coming up for a quick breaths and was hoping to catch a glance in the fading light, when, I heard a noise in front of me.

There was Mr. Prickles the porcupine, a step in front of me on the trail.  His (her?) quills were fully extended and had I not heeded the sound warning, your author would probably be in a waiting room giving you insight into the Quebec health care system.  Anyhow, prickles took off and so did I, two strangers crossing paths in the wilderness.

So tomorrow I make for Moncton NB to stay with Jer, my newest couch surfing friend.  After that it's PEI!!
The end of the world....

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