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To conquer two summits of more than 1,100 m in one day, this was the challenge I gave myself as I ventured to hike up Mount Gosford. It meant walking 18 km on a trail with an ascending elevation of 1,100 m. Not bad for my first “real” trek of the year!
By Simon Diotte
This was my third visit to Mount Gosford, the highest summit in the meridional section of Quebec with an altitude of 1,193 m, in the municipality of Saint-Augustin-de-Woburn. I had conquered it before, hiking up and back, wearing snowshoes and boots. This time I wanted more. I had it in my sights to conquer it again, but also to hike up to the top of Cap-Frontière, at an altitude of 1,150 m., located exactly on the Canada-U.S. border. The excursion represents a loop of almost 18 km.
At the welcome centre, Jonathan warned me: “This trek will take at least 7 hours to complete if you’re in great physical shape.” Hmm… Was I really ready for this? I wondered. I spend my entire week playing a keyboard! I started doubting myself, but it was too late for me to back away from my objective. Besides, there are several loops on the route that offer a way out, so I won’t be taking a very big risk here.
After spending the night in the shelter called Le Castor, I arrived in the parking lot of the Rose-Délima pavilion, exactly as the sun was rising, at 4: 58 a.m. The trail starts out on a fairly wide and rocky path. The streams, gorged from the rain of the previous night, were making a loud, thundering sound. This noisy band of water cleansed me of all the urban cacophony I had accumulated in my head. As I began my ascent, a thick fog settled in the forest and filtered the sun’s rays. It was so beautiful, I had to pinch myself! I didn’t regret my early rise and lack of sleep a second.
In less than two hours, I was almost at the top. I was so proud of my morning exploit that I decided to text my family in Montreal. As I was taking some selfies on the trail, I spotted the intersection that leads to the summit. So, in my euphoric state, I ran to the number 6 trail, which actually leads back to the Castor shelter, believing I was headed to the top of the mountain. By the time I realized my mistake, I had already covered a distance of one kilometre! It took me another hour’s climb to return to the intersection and find the right trail. The moral of this story? Cellphones are not just entertaining on a trek!
At 7 :30 a.m., I finally found myself at the highest point of the Eastern Townships where a tower stands overlooking all sides of the mountain. I was able to view the entire region. To the north, I could see Mount Mégantic and the lake that goes by the same name. South of me I spotted the New Hampshire and Maine mountain ranges. After having marvelled at all this, I started out for Cap-Frontière. To access this mountain, I had to hike down to Clearwater Brook by way of Petit-Gosford, then to the border which follows the dividing waterline.
Ascending Cap-Frontière is like going up the Calvary, the climb never stops! However, a well-deserved reward welcomed me at the top of this 1,150 m elevation: The borderline creates an open forest space and allowed me to view the beautiful Maine mountains. Awed by all this nature, I had now reached the halfway point of my challenge. It was only 9:30 a.m. and it’s lunchtime for me. After this pause, I started my way back by taking the number 7 trail which follows the border for almost 2 km before heading down to the Clearwater brook valley. For the final sprint, I had to climb back up Mount Gosford to return to the parking lot from where I had begun.
At 1:30 p.m., I completed the loop, just as I passed the first hikers of the day. It took me 8 hours and 30 minutes (including pauses) to accomplish my 20 km challenge (remember the 2 extra kilometres, because of my cellular distraction). My legs were tired, but I’m the happiest of men!
So, when’s my next visit?