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The prophets of doom announced a rainy weekend. Fortunately, we did not listen to them. A story of an outdoor weekend where our raincoats were finally... useless.
By Simon Diotte
“You’re out of luck! We’ve had great weather all week, but now they’re forecasting rain for your camping weekend. What will you do?” said my worried mother-in-law. What she didn’t know is that we weren’t actually going to camp but rather we were going “glamping”—an expression coined by mixing the words camping and glamour—at Huttopia Sutton, at the foot of the Sutton mountains.
In this vacation village, created by the French company Huttopia, there’s no hardship whatsoever! Visitors can stay in cabins, cottages or luxury tents, like we did, for a weekend, and which we named the “Canadian Tent.” This canvas shelter includes a living space with enough above-head room to stand on stilts, two small rooms, sheets for five “Huttopists” and comfortable mattresses. As for the kitchen, everything is there: a table, pots and pans, a hotplate and dishware. With all this comfort, we weren’t afraid of the elements.
However, At the Huttopia village they offer something extra: a living space where you can eat crêpe dishes and wood oven-baked pizzas in its bistro, enjoy a drink or savour a delicious cup of coffee, sit around a table for a game night (loaned on site), select a good read from their book shelf or sit in front of the TV to watch the World Cup Soccer Tournament (Allez les Bleus !). To really disconnect from the daily routine, there’s no WI-FI here.
Outdoors, a heated pool with a view overlooking the mountains, petanque and badminton courts and a ping-pong table can also be enjoyed by the vacationers. All this at only a stone’s throw from our glamping site.
Huttopia Sutton is the perfect base camp for an active weekend. From the door of our tent, a network of trails welcomes us: Parc environnement naturel de Sutton. It offers 50 km of trails that crisscross the Sutton Mountains which must be discovered as they take us through a forest with mixed essences of trees irrigated by dozens of mountain streams, and the habitat of some rare salamander species.
After some negotiating with our 10 and 8-year-old daughters, we came to an agreement: Each hike will be followed by a dip in the pool or a treat. The ink had barely dried when we took off towards the end of the day on the Village to Mountain Trail, accessible from the camping by crossing the Chemin Maple. This walking corridor links the Sutton ski hill to the village that goes by the same name, and follows the cascades of the river set inside a narrow valley. The magnificent landscape makes us want to linger much longer. If we had to push the girls to head out, now, once they put their feet in the water, they didn’t want to come out. Each cascade served as a pretext for a “foot bath.”
After this warm up hike, we were ready for Mount Sutton by way of Lake Mohawk, at an altitude of 690 m. To reach the lake, we had to ford rivers, climb over rocky passages and avoid tree roots, to the great joy of our daughters. With each arduous passage, they asked for more. We also met several hikers with dogs, to their delight. Each puppy was subjected, to a dose of petting, on the spot. And then the inevitable question is asked”: “Dad, can we get a dog?” Hum. . .
I don’t know how many kilometres were covered, but when we got back, the girls really deserved to relax in the pool and us, our thirst-quenching drinks. Quote of the evening: “Wow! I have so many Instagram pictures!”
On the third day, we head out towards Glen Sutton, at Canoë et Co, to rent kayaks and enjoy the magnificent Missisquoi River at about thirty kilometres from Sutton. Flowing peacefully through this countryside, the Missisquoi is not a dangerous river. Our offspring loved the experience of having a picnic on the boulder that stands out in the middle of the river. There’s no better way to end a weekend “with no rain”.
Take a look at Simon's article A Jewel in the Rough in the Eastern Townships, telling you about his discovery of the Missisquoi-North River