The Québec maritime Blog
Traversée de la Gaspésie (TDLG) events are all about discovering the beautiful region of Gaspésie. First, the TDLG team organized the TDLG on Skis, a weeklong cross-country skiing trek, and then they offered a cycling event, the TDLG on Wheels. With winter and summer covered, it was time to consider organizing something in the fall…
The TDLG on Foot 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 you might join a future edition!
What did the first TDLG on Foot involve? A week of hiking over 115 kilometres (70 miles) along the northern shore of the Gaspé Peninsula in beautiful fall weather, all the way from Mt. Albert to Gaspé. 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 hikers from Québec, 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 both the organizing team and participants, who were the first to experience what turned out to be a wonderful outdoor adventure.
Here are three good reasons to participate in the TDLG on Foot:
1. It’s fun!
Since music and the arts also have the ability to bring people together, they have a major role to play in all TDLG events. First, there’s the accordionist Sylvie Gallant, who serenaded the hikers as they set off to put a swing in their steps and 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 from happy hour all the way to the end of the evening. Finally, there are roving musicians who pop up along the trail. This year, the Acadian duo V’là l’Bon Temps brightened the hikers’ days and kept everyone smiling with their flute and guitar.
In addition, this first edition of the TDLG on Foot featured actors Sophie Faucher and Pascale Bussières as well as comedian Pierre Brassard, who kept everyone laughing! 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 excellent
TDLG participants like to eat and 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 tartar, turbot fish cakes, fresh shrimp, lobster bisque, pork osso buco, grilled maple salmon, seafood lasagna, codfish balls, squash flan, apple strudel… My mouth is watering just thinking about these 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) 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 and make you feel small, but also convinced that you’re exactly where you need to be right at that moment. A few of the group 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.
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 hikers 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 sharpens the senses… Fall was in full swing: light shone through the leaves; your lungs fill with the earthy aroma of the forest and sea air; leaves crackle underfoot as the sun warms 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 TDLG on Foot.
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 leg of the journey was in Forillon National Park and ended at Land’s End, where hikers encounter 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 hikers’ arrival. I walked a segment of the trail with them 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 TDLG on Foot to celebrate defeating cancer. At that moment, I knew getting involved in this event had been a good idea, that for many of the participants, we had brought happiness into the world.
On the last morning, just before the hikers headed back home, I spoke to Marie-Claude, another participant, who confided, her voice full of emotion: “What we just experienced was big. It’s impossible to duplicate something like this... Sharing the ups and downs of the trail, laughter, pain, tiredness, discoveries...” 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...
Are you eager to participate in the next edition of the TDLG on Foot? Start planning now!