Quebec North Shore Tour
PART 3 - COTE-NORD
We were finally off to Cote Nord region, but not before travelling around the fjord on both sides of the Riveire Saguenay. Again, spectacular scenery. We turned left when we reach Highway 138 and headed east.
When we planned the trip, we wanted to stop about halfway between Saguenay and the road’s end. We found a cute little cabin at Le Gîte du Phare de Pointe-des-Monts on the internet. The cabins looked extremely enchanting with a view of the St. Lawrence River and we booked a cabin for a night. We explored the vicinity and the local lighthouse.
We sat on the deck of the cabin watching Northern Gannets diving for fish and whale breaching out in the river. That night was unforgettable with a near full moon. We enjoyed a quiet night with wonderful sounds and silhouettes of a variety of waterfowl, gulls and herons.
Cabin at Point-des-Monts
Rugged Shoreline of Point-des-Monts
Sunrise at Point-des-Monts
We left the cabin early and headed toward Havre-Saint-Pierre for a three night stay. Stopping at Sept I’le to refuel and pick up supplies, we were very happy to find a great variety of vegan options at the IGA.
Our campsite was right in Havre-Saint-Pierre at the municipal campground. Our site was small and perfectly perched high enough to see the water. The park had a large beach with a nice variety of seabirds. All day, the red-throated loons would fly over us with the unique flying calls. From the water, we could hear their haunting loon calls as they communicated amongst each other. Never heard a bird call quite like it, so eerier sounding.
Checking the local weather at the tourist information centre, we booked a boat tour to Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve for our first full day and planned to travel to the end of the road on the following day.
The tour included a visit to two of the islands, Île Quarry and Île Niapiskau. These islands have a very unique landscape of forests, barrens, peat bogs, seashores and monoliths. The tour included presentation from the Parks Canada staff, however, it was all in French and we couldn’t understand a word of it. We were the only two anglophones, so we didn’t want to inconvenience the entire group by requesting English translations (not that it was offered). One of the passengers was bilingual and knew we were anglaphones from being centred out on the boat and he was very kind to translate some of the important information for us.
Shoreline of L'ile Quarry, Mingan Archipelago
Monoliths at Ile Quarry, Mingan Archipelago
Monoliths at Ile Niapiskau, Mingan Archipelago
The trip to the end of the road was a full day excursion. The journey was 200km one way, which included 156km of highway and 44km of gravel road (400km round trip). Along the way was beautiful landscapes and quaint villages of Baie-Johan-Beetz, Anguanish and Natashquan. There were rivers, watefalls, bays and forests. A recent forest fire (July 2013) left a huge visible scare along the highway. Although the charred skeleton trees trunks were still standing, new life was emerging from the ashes. The only disappointment was that it rained most of the day, with frequent downpours and blowing mist, making it difficult to impossible for photography. However, we did what we could and just enjoyed being out there. It’s not always about the picture, it’s the adventure too!
We ran out of payment just past Natashquan, but the gravel section was wide and well maintained. The landscape was very unique and beautiful. The end of the road was in the cute village of Kegaska, where the road forked. One way led to the Ferry dock and the other to the Kegaska Airport. This was the end of the line. FIN!
On our return to Havre-Saint-Pierre, we tried to stop for photos between the downpours, but the opportunities were scare. That evening it cleared up, so we purchased another bag of firewood and had a wonderful final HSP night around the campfire.
Regrowth after the Forest Fire
It was a bit sad leaving Havre Saint Pierre as we grown to really love the area and, travelling west felt a bit like we were heading home. But we were so wrong as there was plenty of adventure still ahead.
We had originally booked a three night stay at Réserve faunique de Port-Cartier-Sept-Îles. But, a week before we left, we came to find out that the park was huge and the site we booked was a four hour drive off the main road. We immediately cancelled the reservation and booked two nights in Tadoussac and the left the first night open. Travelling from Havre-Saint-Pierre, we stopped at a charming little campground at Camping de la Baie Verte in Forestville. We paid the $17.44 fee and set up our tent on a beautiful site overlooking the water.