“The peninsula is an amazing place full of friendly Quebec-Acadians and their history. However if you have a few days before wanting to be in Quebec City than I suggest going all the way around route 132, through the town of Gaspe. Otherwise I would suggest taking 132 until you reach the north route 299,” Beatrice had informed us, “its generally one of the prettiest routes on the peninsula as its the a section of the Appalachian mountain range. And it will get you to the southern towns along the Saint Lawerence river.”
Just after the town of Gesgapegiag, we found route 299. Our vehicle slowed down and pulled right on the shoulder to a halt. The two of us to consulted the map, a couple of pamphlets and determined if we continued on route 132 up to Gaspe or take 299 to Saint-Anne-des-Mont?
“Okay, from our current location the town of Gaspe is 230kms (2 hrs 30mins) or Saint-Anne is 155kms (1 hr 50mins). And if we go to Gaspe then it will be another 250kms along the coast or partially inland. So, what’s your vote?” I asked. She pondered the information than said “Let’s drive the mountains. I’m tired of seeing water,” I mulled over this answer than smiled and said “never thought I would hear you say mountains over water. Okay. Lets take 299 and see what is up there in the Gas McGerrigle Mountains and the Gaspésie National Park!”
Back on the roadway we drove for bout five-kilometres until we started noting those bright orange and black road construction signs which would eventually impede our driving for the next 22-kilomtres and chew up an extra 45-minutes as we sat idling in various lineups to pass the construction crews.
- The Park was created in April 1937 in order to permanently protect the caribou of the Gaspé Peninsula, the beauty of Mount Albert, the McGerrigle Mountains and the salmon of the Sainte-Anne River. The altitude profoundly influences the climate that shapes the entire landscape and creates a diversity of species unique to Quebec and even to the world. Arctic-alpine plants and tundra landscapes are the preferred habitat for a herd of caribou, the last representatives of this species south of the St. Lawrence River.
Along our passage we decided to stop for a picinic lunch and pulled over along a section of roadway next to Riverie Cascapedia. Pulling out the coolers and setting them on a picinic table overlooking this quaint and serene area. As soon as we opened the first package, a swarm of small pestering bugs arrived. They attacked us, with swooping annoyance trying to invade our foods. We quickly packed up and headed onward.
Our drive continued and we opted for snacking in the vehicle instead of gambling with another onslaught of pestering bugs. After an hour or so, we drove past a yellow chalet with signage Relais de la Cache. Continuing onward our vehicle chugged up the elevation changes until we peaked at the summit outside and began our descent.
As the road turned, twisted and descended we came across this giant white palatial estate in the middle of the mountains reminiscent of Fairmont Banff Springs except without the red brick.
Its magnificent peaks and panels of white contrasted against the green pine and spruce trees it is surrounded by. We pulled into the parking lot and meandered inside to learn more about this elegant escape called Gite du Mont-Albert.
Everything about this lodge screamed at me to pull out the suitcases and stay the night and take to wandering a trail or two to a summit and see about finding those wandering caribou. As I came back from the washroom, I looked at her with pleading eyes, trying to entice her into wanting this as much as myself when she said, “do you want to get something to eat here? Or just hit the road?” “Well, to be honest, I was thinking we could ask about a room and stay the night?” “But didn’t you say earlier we should try to be like a couple hours from Quebec City in a day or so, to enjoy our time there?” “I did, but aren’t you at all interested in seeing what this has to offer?” “Sure. Is this the spot we both want to spend time in? Or just you?”
And with that she defeated my will to continue this debate on staying in this magnificent cottage surrounded by natural beauty. “Another time,” I let slip through my lips as I walked backward across the parking lot, admiring the structure before us, until I bumped into the SUV.
Another twenty-two minutes or so, and we drove out the other side of the mountain range to the splendor of the Saint Lawerence River and a mafnificent view of Sainte-Anne-des-Monts.