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My Experience of the First TDLG on Foot
  • Fall TDLG participants

My Experience of the First TDLG on Foot

A Trekking Adventure in Gaspésie

Traversée de la Gaspésie (TDLG) events are all about discovering the beautiful region of Gaspésie. First, the TDLG team organized the TDLG on Skis (now the Winter TDLG), a weeklong cross-country skiing (or snowshoeing) trek, and then they offered a cycling event (which no longer takes place). With winter and summer covered, it was time to consider organizing something in the fall…

The TDLG on Foot (now the Fall TDLG) will undoubtedly become a popular annual adventure. I joined the TDLG team as assistant coordinator several weeks before the event began. I’ll share some of my experiences in this post, in the hopes that they may inspire you to take part in this adventure at some point!

What does the Fall TDLG event involve? A week of trekking over 115 km (70 mi.) in beautiful fall weather from Mt. Albert to Gaspé via the northern shore of the Gaspé Peninsula. The package includes everything from meals and accommodations to professional guides, as well as snacks and entertainment along the way.

From September 27 to October 4, 2014, 125 participants from Québec, the rest of Canada, France and the U.S. came together for this friendly outdoor adventure. In addition to being physically challenging, all TDLG events are opportunities to meet people and have fun while exploring the region of Gaspésie.

On the big day, the excitement in the air was palpable among members of the organizing team as well as the participants, who were the first to experience what turned out to be a wonderful outdoor adventure!

Here, then, are my three good reasons for participating in the Fall TDLG:

1. It’s fun!

Since music and the arts also bring people together, they have a major role to play in all TDLG events. First, there’s the accordionist Sylvie Gallant, who serenaded the participants as they set off in the morning to put a swing in their steps and then again at the end of each day’s journey to pick up their spirits. Then there’s the house band, the TDLG Jazz Trio, who soothed tired muscles with jazzy tunes during happy hour all the way to the end of the evening. Finally, there are roving musicians who pop up randomly along the trail. This year, the Acadian duo V’là l’Bon Temps brightened the participants’ days and kept everyone smiling with their flute and guitar.

In addition, this first edition of the Fall TDLG featured Québec actors Sophie Faucher and Pascale Bussières as well as comedian Pierre Brassard, who kept everyone in stitches. Several other surprises and magical moments were part of the entertainment during this event… but you’ll have to participate in the next edition to find out more!

2. The food is amazing!

All that physical activity makes you hungry—and TDLG participants like to eat well! The Gaspésie Gourmande team, in partnership with local chefs and host communities, did a great job of planning healthy, tasty and locally sourced meals, from breakfast to dinner, not to mention the traditional shooters enjoyed at the end of each day’s trek and the appetizers! A sample of some of the items on the menu: yak tartare, turbot fish cakes, fresh shrimp, lobster bisque, pork osso buco, grilled maple salmon, seafood lasagna, codfish balls, squash flan and apple strudel. My mouth is watering just thinking about those meals!

3. It’s an experience of a lifetime!

Day 1: Mt. Albert (17.5 km / 11 mi. loop trail)

Day 2: Mt. Jacques-Cartier, Mt. Xalibu, Lac-aux-Américains (23 km / 14 mi.)

Nestled in the heart of the Chic-Choc Mountains, Parc national de la Gaspésie presents hikers with significant challenges: climbing 800 metres (2620 feet) to get to the famous Mt. Albert plateau and then up to 1280 metres (4200 feet) in altitude to reach the top of Mt. Jacques-Cartier, the highest point in the region. However, the stunning views will take your mind off the arduous climb over rocks and lichen and make you feel small but also convinced that you’re exactly where you need to be right at that moment. A few participants were fortunate enough to spot some of the caribou that live in these mountains. “To be there, feeling so grateful for this adventure that life was offering me, awed by the edge-of-the-world landscape, and then to see two caribou cross our trails… Tears sprang to my eyes,” said Sophie Faucher, one of the lucky ones.

Hiking past the Pointe-à-la-Renommée Lighthouse©

Day 3: Mont-Saint-Pierre to L’Anse-Pleureuse (25 km / 15.5 mi.)

Day 4: Grand-Étang to L’Anse-à-Valleau (17.3 km / 11 mi.)

The trekkers then headed from the mountains to the sea, to meander along the north shore of the Gaspé Peninsula from Mont-Saint-Pierre to L’Anse-à-Valleau. This leg of the journey really awakened the senses… Fall was in full swing: light shone through the leaves; your lungs filled with the earthy aromas of the forest and the sea; leaves crackled underfoot as the sun warmed your skin… “You step lightly through the forest, rediscover a childlike wonder, become one with all that surrounds you,” mused Pascale Bussières, spokesperson for the Fall TDLG.

Day 5: Forillon National Park – Les Crêtes, Mt. Saint-Alban, Cap-Bon-Ami (18 km / 11 mi.)

Day 6: Forillon National Park – Les Graves and Cap-Gaspé (18 km / 11 mi.)

The last stretch in Forillon National Park©

The last leg of the journey was in Forillon National Park and ended at Land’s End, where participants encountered the immensity of the sea, which “broadens your view and fills your soul,” according to Claudine Roy, president and co-founder of the TDLG events. This is a less demanding stretch that gives you the opportunity to soak up the horizon as you walk. Even the whales were there to celebrate the trekkers’ arrival. I walked a segment of the trail on this last day and asked Denise Boisvert, one of the participants, whether she was happy with her week. Almost moved to tears, she responded, “I know for a fact that of all the people here, I’m the happiest!” In remission for the past year, she had decided to participate in the Fall TDLG to celebrate defeating cancer. At that moment, I knew that getting involved in this event had been a good idea and that we were creating happiness for many.

On the last morning, just before the trekkers headed back home, I spoke to Marie-Claude, another participant, who confided, her voice full of emotion: “What we just experienced was huge. It’s impossible to duplicate something like this… Sharing the ups and downs of the trail, laughing together, being tired and in pain together, discovering things together…” And I think she’s right. I think that, above all else, the TDLG events are about the joys of being together and of feeling like you’re part of something special and unique.

Do you want to participate in this adventure too? Find out more about the event and start planning now!

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