Two years ago I went to an off-site planning session for work at Le Gite du Mont-Albert. I was blown away by how nice the rooms were and how pretty the location was. The Parc Nationale de la Gaspesie is only a 3 hour drive from my home and I felt like I had travelled to Banff or to another one of Canada’s amazing National parks. My only regret after being next to Mont Albert the first time was not having the time or the opportunity to do any of the hikes around the mountain.
Now, two years later, with the Mr. and our little dude in tow – we arrived at Le Gite du Mont-Albert yet again. This time with a lot of hiking in our plans!
The plan was simple… use our Labour Day weekend to drive to the Parc Nationale de la Gaspesie, bring along all the essential hiking snacks (and whatever gear we own) and do the Tour of Mont Albert (Le Tour du Mont-Albert). After-all aren’t most 10 month old babies ready for a 17.4km hike up a mountain, across to another mountain and then down past a Caribou inhabited area and two waterfalls?
In true “Jenna” fashion, we had our gear all ready the night before and the most important part… the snacks! Side Note: I really enjoy hiking but I am terrified to be hungry and not have food available to me! So, not only do I buy/make snacks, I buy the craziest snacks like candy sticks etc. to make sure all basis are covered.
Off we went! We left the hotel at 8:15AM and headed toward Mont Albert to start making our way up the 5.7km trail to the top. The trail started off really good. It was a walking trail as you can see in the picture below with an incline, so difficult, but nothing we couldn’t handle.
Unfortunately, the smooth walking trails only lasted for the first 1.7km. Then we began climbing up many rocky sections and following a “trail” up a much steeper incline.
Thankfully, our little dude slept almost 2 hours and woke up happy as can be. It took us 3 hours to get to the top which included a few short breaks and a longer break about 400 meters from the top. We were warned that although it might be nice weather on the trails at the top of the mountain it can be quite windy. So with that in mind and not knowing if there would be any sheltered areas, little dude had his lunch in a sheltered rest area before we made the final climb to the top.
And voila! A 5.7km hike up the mountain for these views!
After two years of wondering what it would be like at the top of the mountain I made it! And, with my two favourite people to top it off! Side Note #2: Did you notice my little dude’s fleece suite? It is Cape Breton tartan… just a little shout out to the Mr.’s home even from the top of a mountain in Quebec!
We had quite a time to try and get a “good” family selfie with little dude wanting to be on the go since he was free of his MEC carrier. But, we managed to get some that I am chalking up as “artsy” selfies, haha.
Our family celebration ended as we geared up, after eating peanut butter and speculoos sandwiches, to complete the next 11.7km of the hike. We were feeling pretty confident as the first 5.7km was difficult but we handled it quite well. Doing the tour instead of going back down the way we climbed the mountain was described to us as hard for the first 2km but then a walking trail on a decline for the rest. The trail is so much longer because the slope os not as steep. Well, that is what they told us… and that was NOT true!
A highlight of taking this way however was that we had the opportunity to see 2 caribou! They were pretty close to the pathway we were on across a marsh area and of course our little dude decided he would try to “talk” to them. The best picture I took of them was once we were passed them I turned back and got a picture of them on the move. Side Note #3: It is not recommended to “talk” to caribou… leave them do their thing and get ready to help Santa at Christmas time, haha.
We had 10.5km left to go with the “hard 2km” as described to us up next. Thankfully, once again little dude was being an amazing hiker and fell asleep after the excitement of seeing the caribou. Down we went, scaling the wall at times, jumping from rock to rock and contemplating paying someone for their hiking poles. Side Note #4: We should have bought hiking poles and should not have made fun of other hikers for looking funny with theirs! When/if we do another big hike, we will get poles!
This 2km stretch took us quite a while! We didn’t time it exactly, but we were pretty sure it took us about an hour to do 1km at one point. At every corner we were praying and hoping for the “walking trail” that was described to us. Unfortunately that “walking trail” was nowhere to be found.
At about the 7 hour mark of our hike we stopped along this river for our second “long” break where little dude enjoyed some similac and we shared our second peanut butter and speculoos sandwich. Side Note #5: If you haven’t tried speculoos spread yet, you must! I used to buy it in bulk during trips to Belgium, but now it is available at Atlantic Superstore… it is pretty amazing to have this delicious cookie spread available across Canada at all times!
The rest of the hike took us another 2 hours. In total, the entire tour took us 9 hours to do. I have to say when they rated the trail as a 6-8 hour hike I am not sure what were thinking. Without our little dude we feel like we might have been able to do the tour in 7-8 hours at the fastest, but certainly not in 6! So keep this in mind when planning to do this hike. One of the things I am the most proud of throughout this hike was that although the Mr. twisted his knee, my ankles were killing me and little dude was in a carrier for about 7 hours we were all happy and in good spirits throughout the entire experience!
If you decide to take a trip to this park, but are not up for a 9 hour hike, don’t worry! There are lots of shorter hikes to choose from with some great views. In fact, both of these waterfalls (Chute de Diable and Chutes Sainte-Anne) are at the end of the tour and therefore not too far to do as a round trip from the hotel. And, to make them even more interesting for you they are actually where the trail started to get better for us! Finally, the last 2.5km of the tour actually became what we would consider a “walking trail”.
With very tired smiles on our faces and the thought of the hotel’s pretzel burger and blonde beer in mind, we were happy to be back!
17.4km, 9 hours and some very sore ankles later… would we do it again?! As crazy as it may sound, we WOULD! With hiking poles and hiking shoes however! And, not in the near future…
I hope you had fun joining us for Le tour du Mont Albert from the comfort of wherever you are reading this from!
My shoes for that: The shoes I wish I had worn that day… ANY of these North Face hiking shoes!