AUGUST 17, 2004 — OUT OF MATANE WILDLIFE RESERVE, QUEBEC
Wednesday the 11th, Andrew had hiked 155 miles and stayed at the Du Mont Jacques Cartier campground, which is in the Parc de la Gaspesie. It rained the majority of the days he had been hiking and he was rotating between two pair of shoes. He reported that he was seeing more and more people and was finding more hikers who could speak English. This made his trek more enjoyable. Finding bunk space for the nights was sometimes difficult as the camps are reserved a year in advance. He had an issue with his Achilles tendon and was considering cutting his shoes to relieve the pressure.
Thursday, the 12th it rained hard all day and some of the rivers were flooding. On Friday the 13th he had reached Camp Cascapedia and picked up a food drop. This had to take him through the Cap-Chat mountains and the Matane Reserve. He was out of contact for the next four days.
The next contact from Andrew came in the form of a message on the answering machine, “I made it through the Matane Reserve and I am still alive.” As parents, this was an alarming message. He called later in the evening and reported that the Cap-Chats and the Matane Reserve was the most challenging terrain he had ever hiked. The trails go straight up and straight down. He slogged through swamps at 1000-meter high peaks. The rivers were swollen from all the rain and he had to ford where bridges had been washed out. His hands and feet are a mess from all the moisture and the shoes are shot. He did question why the trail had to climb every peak in the Cap-Chats. When he hiked out of the Reserve, he was told the trails had been closed because the rivers were to swollen. He had been one of the last to ford the river.
He had two wildlife experiences. He was hiking in the clouds in the Reserve when he heard a galloping sound. He unexpectedly saw that he was directly in the path of four galloping caribou. Fortunately, they were as surprised as he was and even more quickly reversed their direction. He has also seen four moose: one male with a great rack, a mother and her calf and a female who enjoyed being photographed.
Andrew asked that I relay that he is “really enjoying himself”. The challenge of the mountains was the most difficult so far and he is looking forward to the next 300 miles or easy terrain and road walking. Today, his body is feeling the effect of a tough week. Hopefully tonight he will find a bed at a hostel, a shower and a few good meals. He has hiked 282 miles so far.