Hiking: Mont Chapman (Stokes, Quebec)

The next hike went back to probably one of the most popular areas in Quebec and pretty well-known for its nature and that’s the Eastern Townships. After some research, we landed on finding this location called Mont Chapman. Its one of the farther hiking trails in Eastern Townships as we headed into a smaller country road that lead to a little parking lot in the middle of nowhere, with actually a few cars as the starting point for the hike.

Mont Chapman

The part that we did is the Boucle du Mont Chapman which goes around. We ended up doing the entire loop (and some more…I’ll talk about that later). Its pretty much a loop to the summit and back. With the shorter distance and the height of the summit, the elevation went up fairly quickly and it was almost a constant sloped trek, which is one of the bigger challenges of the path especially going upwards. We took the 4.9 km path upwards and did the 3.3 km downwards.

The path was pretty well maintained. There are a lot of little stones and twigs sticking out of the path through which can be hidden by all the fallen leaves. That is the only issue but its all about being observant. At the same time, there are some efforts to put planks to cross over little streams and some steps were made out of the terrain to help the process. There are some rocky steps as well. If not, in the little streams area, there are little rocks to walk over to stay a little more dry. It has to do with the weather still be cooler and more rainy this spring, I think. There were also some unique things like walking between boulders to get to the other side or on the down path, there’s some boulders to climb down from, as expected as the return trip is shorter distance, making it a steeper downhill trek.

And then, the view at the summit had a few angles, here it is:

Mont Chapman

Its a pretty hard track to be honest and it probably has to do with the fact that we expected it to be milder than it turned out to be. The issue with expectations, right? Either way, it was listed as an intermediary path, I believe but at times it did have some difficult moments. Setting that aside, my biggest issue was that we went the 4.9km path up where you follow the orange and white indicators on the trees, but going down, we had to follow the red and white indicators and man, was that confusing. Why I said that we ended up doing more than the total was because in between, we had to try three paths and each headed back to the fork, taking us over an hour to figure out where to go while walking up some really steep paths up and down to come to the conclusion to go back to the summit and take the path back and realized there was a sign at another angle in the distance that gave you the right path to follow. A lot of issues for my ankles (almost twisted it a few times on the downward jumps or hidden protruding rocks) on this one hike that I had to use some the trusty KT Tape and we had bought recently. That’s one of my complaints about this track, the unclear signage. While a part of the path has some work being done and didn’t have an alternate route so we checked that it was still just muddy but safe so kept going through the area to get to the other side since it was so close to the summit.

On the more positive side, this was the hike that got us ready for some harder trails. While we were both fed up of the trail on the way back and it was a tad painful (for my ankle specifically), there is a good amount of satisfaction to toughing it out and getting through it at the same time, having a good idea that we’ve really improved our preparedness over the years that we still had water left and food to sustain our energy. Not to mention, we had also got some pasta salads in the cooler at the car as a reward.

This was a rough one. 
Can’t say the view was a huge reward since it was also bug-infested. Insect repellant is a must on this trail.
We are hoping to squeeze in one or two more hikes before event season starts up in July. 😉

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Hiking: Gatineau Park -Sugarbush Trail/Waterfall Trail (Gatineau, Canada)

Hiking season has officially started for us! At the point that this post is going out, most national parks and provincial parks around us should be open. It wasn’t quite the case the previous week when we went to Gatineau Park as they were in a transition phase and only certain trails were open.

The first stop we made was at the information center at Gatineau Park. In that area, the only path open was the Sugarbush Trail. We ended up doing that one as a warm-up since we were already there before heading to the next area.

Sugarbush Trail

Sugarbush Trail

The Sugarbush Trail is one of the winter hiking trails at Gatineau Park. It runs for 1.9 km all around. Its a fairly flat trail with just the normal nature scenery like a mild walk in the forest. Its a good place to warm-up especially since its our first hike just to warm up the legs. There are a few little things to see but it also is quite packed with people. We weren’t sure if its because its an easy trail or the fact that it was the one at the Visitor Centre and people just went because they were already there. Whatever the reason, good warm-up but not really something challenging either.

Moving on to the next trail..this time at P6 of Gatineau Park running through Mackenzie King Estate is the Waterfall Trail.

Window to the Forest

P6 is the parking at the Mackenzie King Estate which we also haven’t been to before so it was an adventure to also see the parts of it that were open. I didn’t really take any pictures of it other than this Window To the Forest one.

We had to cut through the Gardens to reach the Waterfall Trail.  Here’s a few pictures of the the constant running creeks along the way, which is exactly the type of hiking trail that I like because water sounds are about the most soothing in the entire world (at least to me). There is a little bit of elevation here as well but it is fairly gradual.

Waterfall Trail Gatineau Park

The trail starts in its first part with a creek running alongside. As we we walk further on, its a fairly tame experience. The forest is calm and quiet.

As we head into the second part crossing towards the waterfalls area, we need to traverse through a tunnel which is pretty much a giant pipe. Cue in all the horror films that I’ve seen before where it was in some dark passageway. This one is done pretty well however because it has a nice wooden pathway inside.

Gatineau Park

Waterfall Trail Gatineau Park

On the other side of the tunnel, the ground elevation still is fairly gradual in change but there are more of the little drops in water throughout. Its one of those parts that are particularly  nice to see. The water is still more of a creek winding to the waterfall, which marks the end of the trail. You can see it below.

Waterfall Trail Gatineau Park

Waterfalls are a my thing for sure. Its one of the reasons a lot of the times, our trails have some kind of waterfall for my likes or some peak of the mountain view. The waterfall isn’t exactly the biggest we’ve seen but then its also quite surprising that hidden in the woods behind the Mackenzie King Estate is this beautiful walk in the park. You can’t say that Mackenzie King didn’t know how to enjoy life back in the days, right?

That’s it for our first official hike recap at Gatineau Park. 
My guess is that we’ll go back to Gatineau Park later in the summer to check out another trail.
Or at least until the summer trails officially kick in because when we went it was still the winter trails which were quite limited. 

Parc de la Chute-Montmorency (Quebec, Canada)

To celebrate the end of a crazy work phase for myself, we decided to head out of town. Its about two weeks earlier than our normal start of travelling/hiking destinations as most national parks or hiking trails aren’t open yet or doesn’t quite open until Victoria Day. After much debate, I found out that Parc de la Chute-Montmorency had opened in early May which worked perfectly, plus, I hadn’t gone since at least 20 years ago (or more) and my husband had actually never been before and I felt he should go to see it at least once in his life.

Parc de la Chute-Montmorency

Located in the outskirts of Quebec City, Parc de la Chute-Montmorency is a completely different experience outside of going on a tour, which is how I went the first time years ago. Going by ourselves, there are still things still not quite completely open yet like paths and such due to the early season but there are a lot of places to still go. You can choose to take the cable car down to the lower level and there the boardwalk is open to a certain degree until the long wooden staircase, where that is closed access to a part because of the unmelted snow probably. However, you can choose to not take the cable car (like ourselves), and walk the upper path through the overhead suspension bridge over the waterfalls and then to the other side which had a small trail into the forest, various observation points and the long winding 487 steps staircase to get a better angle on the Montmorency Falls, as well as a large field with an orchard to relax.

La Promenade de la Falaise

Promenade de la Falaise

Walking from the manor, you first go through the boardwalk trail to the suspension bridge. There this beautiful easy walking spot which has some stairs and leads to the first observation deck which is a highlight spotm Le Belvedere de la Baronne. 

La Belvedere de la baronne

Suspension Bridge

Chute Montmorency

Walking across the suspension bridge, its quite the experience to look out into the beautiful scenery around it. One looking down the 83 meter waterfall and then to the other side with some nice view on the water coming down to the falls as well as a good look at the long panaromic staircase we were about to tackle from afar.

Parc de la Chute Montmorency

The other side of the Park

Parc de la Chute Montmorency

Once you cross the bridge, there’s an area in the back to look back. Its nice to see the bridge in full as well as the starting point of where the falls start.

From the Panoramic Staircase

Parc de la Chute Montmorency

While 487 stairs is a pretty big task to take on as a starting location, we still decided to take it one flight of stairs at a time. Its not so bad to descend as expected especially because each observation point or open deck really gave such a different angle to the falls. Its a majestic scene to take in to the say the absolute least. Of course, if you were in the season where the stairs can access the boardwalk below, this is what the boardwalk looks like. There were people on it so I can only guess that it was open from the other side if you took the cable car down. Of course, perhaps at this point, it might be open on both sides as the weather gets better.

Parc de la Chute Montmorency

Its been decades since I’ve been back and for a returning trip, it was definitely worth it because this is one of Quebec’s landmarks. Its a beautiful natural beauty and in the park behind, there are also some historical elements as well to look at. We didn’t manage to check out the actual hiking trails which should be 2 other ones, one that is open now called Le Sentier des Resurgences (2.5km round-trip) and also one that opens in July 31st (I would expect) as its called Le Sentier du 31 juillet (1km round-trip). Of course, for the more adventurous types, the season also opens later on for Via Ferrata and Ziplining which should be really cool to do across and around the waterfalls.

That’s it for this trip recap for Parc de la Chute Montmorency!

Have you been here before?

BITS 2018: Hammer of the Gods (2018)

Hammer of the Gods (2018)

hammer of the gods

Director (and writer): Nick Szostakiwskyj

Cast: Rob Raco, Josh Collins, Samantha Carly, Parmiss Sehat

Hammer of the Gods is the story of falling-from-grace rock group half a decade after the release of their hit single, as they travel deep into the Canadian wilderness on a spirit journey. – IMDB

Horror films set in the wilderness is fairly underused. The Canadian wilderness is a vast and intriguing location to choose. Hammer of the Gods sets their story in the Canadian wilderness starting right away to show off the vast nature surrounding where this starts on a big area of water, a lake that leads into a water system to start their adventure for a one time wonder rock band, Sled Dog out to find inspiration for their future music. Being a horror thriller, this one takes its story through an acid trip journey while following some specific rules set on the first night by this band for the three members and a groupie they picked up at the beginning of the trip.  Hammer of the Gods is set up for success in its premise. However, in the actual execution, this is where it starts to fall apart slightly.

Hammer of the Gods

One of the main issues with the film is how it takes a long and dragged out first act to get to its climax point. However, once it gets there, it also has the issue of whether the reveal was slightly too early before it got to the grand finale where everything unravels to a certain point. The first act which lasts almost the first half of the film is full of very small things. There is somewhat of a Predator sort of idea where there’s these moments of something lurking in the forest observing and following. There’s the big question of whether they are hallucinations from the drug and that is the assumption that is expected to be drawn but of course, there is something more. However, after many scenes of these moments that feel somewhat disjointed but seem to also escalate a little more from one to the next, it still is done well however at one point overstays its welcome slightly. When the turning point comes and we have the first reveal of sorts, it becomes this appreciated moment but then it also seems like its still a little too abrupt and makes us wonder how much farther this story can go. What happens as it goes to the end does work but at some point, the reveal of the true nature of what lurks in this journey, how real this all is as well as the true intention of this journey (because why wouldn’t it not have another layer), turns into this dramatic point for its band members that feel already too late and inappropriate to be dealing with this when survival is the more important part of the equation.

Hammer of the Gods

As much as the execution as its issues, what does stand out in Hammer of the Gods is its use of its natural atmosphere and surrounds. The camerawork here works to the advantage as it helps to focus on the forest in each location. The canoe rides and the conversations all have a deeper meaning and the layout of events, although taking dragged out has a lot of atmospheric moments that create a decent level of tension. The second half of the film in that regards, aside from some dramatic moments which understandably is to give the characters some more substance, takes a turn in pace and propels quickly towards its ending. There is some tense moments and some shocking moments and some predictable moments where the character makes a desperate albeit dumb decision. There are some nicely crafted moments here but Hammer of the Gods just falls short of its potential.

Hammer of the Gods is screening at The Royal Cinema on November 24th at 4:30pm for Blood in the Snow Festival.

Hiking: Parc Regional du Mont-Ham – Button & Panoramique Trails

The second hike of 2018 takes us back to the Eastern Townships of Quebec to the Parc Regional du Mont-Ham.

We actually found this one the way back from the last hike in a little pamphlet. There is a nice variety in the trails and the loop you choose to make. If you want to do the direct path, the L’Intrepide trail is 1.7km (intermediate to difficult level) and takes you on a climb to the summit. Of course, being the hikers that we are, we decided to do one of the longer loops starting out in the Button Trail to reach the summit and consequently hitting about 3 lookout points before, then going back on the Panoramique Trail. It took us about 4 hours to complete the 6.9 km route we went for. These two trails are also intermediate to difficult levels so much to our surprise, it was very challenging with the steep slopes and constant quick changes in elevation. A lot of times, hiking for us is both exercise but to see the natural beauty around us at the peak and this one takes you to the absolute peak of Mont-Ham so nothing is obstructing the view (except other hikers). There’s a cross at the top and its quite the climb where they give you ropes to go up. Like I said, its a pretty awesome spot. We actually like to do secluded spots so this location was a little too popular for our preference but we still thought the feeling was fantastic.

Here’s a few snapshots of the trail!

And for a more 360 degrees view, here’s my Instagram video for it. Of course, if you want the updates more, just follow me there. I don’t post a ton but a lot of this hiking views and food stuff.

This wraps up this hiking adventure!
A memorable and breathtaking one as well as a very crazy uphill trek!
We climbed up rocks and hopped down rocks and it almost felt like an obstacle course at some parts.

Hiking: Le Mont-Megantic Trail – Mont Megantic National Park

Hiking season has officially started for us this year!

Eastern Townships

The road to the national park

Monday was Victoria Day in Canada so it was a day off and we were able to figure out somewhere fun to hike. Our plans almost did change in the morning but things worked out and we headed off to the Eastern Townships in Quebec to Mont-Megantic National Park.

Its about 2.5 hour drive for us to get there. We always stop at the visitor’s center first. Essential when you are doing a hike to get the bathroom break and also to pay for the fee while getting info on the trails. The lady at the desk was a great help and gave us a good idea of what trails were around us while also telling us the original trail we were going to do was still covered in snow. Usually that wouldn’t be a problem but I haven’t gotten around to getting a new pair of hiking shoes so I was in my running turned walking shoes so the grip wasn’t as good. We ended up going for the Le Mont-Megantic Trail which is a 10 km loop and takes you up to the observatory at the top. The entrance here includes parking and the entrance code to go to the observatory and sanctuary up the hill by car. So, we actually stopped at the top of the trail just before the hill up the observatory which was muddy and snowy in various areas. The trail here is intermediate (although it felt hard for a first hike). Here’s a few pictures and the scenery! Trust me, its so worth it!

A lovely trek but it was a little tough so the pictures were a little scarce for the path going up. Before I wrap this up, I’d love to share a video I posted on Instagram for the scenery at the Sanctuary since that is the top most part of the area and offered a 360 degree scenery almost.

There is a whole bunch of trails at this national park and we’re pretty sure that we’ll come back for some of the other ones later this season. Its a close enough drive and the Eastern Townships are pretty and the national park also has some space observation stuff that we’d love to check out when its not a statutory holiday and they are open.

Not sure when the next hike is but we’re planning on doing a lot more this year so I’ll probably be checking in with another trail that we’ve explored soon!

Hiking: Owl’s Head

More hiking was set for us on that week of staycation we had. With a little research, we found our second location which is rather nearby to Montreal also at a offseason ski resort, Owl’s Head. I’ve only ever heard of it before. Owl’s Head, just like most ski locations but hiking spots in the summer/fall, are really another type of beast. They have some designated paths but mostly, its a free walk uphill. Owl’s Head was no different. In fact, the trek up was pretty intense. it was incredibly steep and pretty tiring for such a short walk. We didn’t make it all the way but we did get almost there except for a winding path that went up to a booth or ski station or something. However, the view along the way opened up over a lake and with the leaves changing colors, it was really breathtaking.

Here are some shots of what we saw. It gives an idea of how steep it was and also the views we saw. On our way down, we actually encountered a cute little fellow and I took a little video of it.

Owl's Head

Owl's Head

Owl's Head

And for our little porcupine encounter. This porcupine is definitely not full grown but then I’m not a porcupine expert. It was adorable as heck as it walked around forward and in circles and forward more and then went up the hill. It was a slightly windy day so sorry about all the windy  noises.

A lovely  little location for a short but challenging hike. It was getting cooler that day and on the hills near where we saw the porcupine, there was frost forming on the grass. Still, we enjoyed it a lot. Sometimes, hiking can really get to us and we want to give up but when we turn around and see all the natural beauty around us, it gets us all pumped up again to go higher and makes it all worth it!