The Québec maritime Blog
Claudine Roy, president of the organization that runs the TDLG on Skis event, has the “Gaspésie kilometre” in her blood—which means you have to take her calculations of how far you’ll have to ski each day during this unique event with a grain of salt! This week-long all-inclusive cross-country skiing vacation is an invitation to discover the sea and mountain scenery of the Gaspé Peninsula under a blanket of snow. The peninsula’s jagged coastline, bordered by the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence as well as Chaleur Bay, is reminiscent of Brittany; its interior, a “sea of mountains,” is a continuation of the Appalachian mountain range, with summits over 1000 metres (3300 feet) high.
What could be more exciting than skiing in the magnificent Chic-Chocs?
On the agenda for the 2016 edition from February 20 to 27: a real workout! More specifically, the TDLG on Skis is seven days of cross-country skiing 200 km to 250 km (125 mi. to 155 mi.) a day. Don’t worry, though, you can always shorten your route or even skip a day, depending on your physical condition and the weather. As a former participant, I can tell you it’s best to be prepared for anything: even in late February, it’s not unusual to hit temperatures around -30°C (-22°F) without the wind chill while climbing Mt. Albert in the Chic-Choc Mountains, to encounter a blizzard along the coast, or to battle your way through a snowstorm in the Gaspé area… Those who like skiing in fresh snow are rarely disappointed!
Mind you, most of the time, you’ll find yourself under clear blue skies as you glide from hill to hill, rise to the top of a mountain or fly down a trail towards the St. Lawrence. This year, 160 cross-country skiers are expected to participate in this outdoor adventure, along with about 40 snowshoers—a first this year—who will cover 10 km to 20 km (6 mi. to 12 mi.) a day on separate trails. A team of friendly volunteers oversees the event.
Music, fine dining and more
Gaspesians are known to enjoy the good things in life, and they live up to this reputation during the TDLG event, which includes entertainment and fine dining as well as skiing. You won’t want to miss the morning gatherings and après-ski evenings featuring the verbal acrobatics of the event’s spokespeople, actors Isabel Richer, Pascale Bussières and Sophie Faucher, as well as comedian Pierre Brassard. The TDLG also has artists in residence and musicians who follow the skiers. The accordionist Sylvie Gallant will serenade participants at the beginning and end of each day’s journey, while the roving musicians Les Zappalaches will transport their instruments by snowmobile to play in shelters during lunch breaks, and the TDLG Jazz Quartet will keep everyone entertained in the evenings.
While participants line up for departure, they soon spread out as they ski at their own pace.
The week also includes 10 stops in towns and villages of Gaspésie where the inhabitants participate in the event. “The community aspect of the TDLG is even more important than the skiing,” says Claudine Roy. “This event is a great opportunity to meet other skiers, volunteers and the people who live in the villages that welcome us.” I still remember arriving at noon at the church in the village of Val-d’Espoir on a beautiful day. Inside, an orchestra was playing lively music that had people waltzing in the aisles. We then gathered around tables covered in food prepared by the families of the village, which set our taste buds dancing. The meal started with hearty soups and ended with stunning desserts—it was hard to move on!
The fine cuisine offered at the Gîte du Mont-Albert hotel, in Parc national de la Gaspésie, had already delighted our taste buds, as would the rest of the meals throughout the week (lunches included). With the support of the organization Gaspésie Gourmande, the TDLG makes a point of introducing participants to the best local products available. One of the high points of my trip was the Atkins smoked fish we savoured in a hut near Percé at the end of a long day of skiing… My mouth still waters every time I think of it!
Since all good things must come to an end, it makes sense this event would conclude on a high note. The year I participated, the long winding procession of skiers ended their trek on the ice of Gaspé Bay, surrounded by kitesurfers, before celebrating in the village cathedral. Where else but in Gaspésie can you imagine such a thing?
Does this cross-country skiing adventure sound like something you’d like to experience? Find all the details here.