Seeing a Caribou on the International Appalachian Trail

ECT Day 199&200

IAT Day 30&31

Day 199: 18 miles

This morning we woke up in the room around 6am and packed up. Then we went down to the breakfast buffet at 7:30am. Trucker and Sparkle had been telling me all about the incredible buffet spread. I was so excited!

There was everything that you could imagine. Pancakes, sausage, bacon, lox and bagels, spreads, croissants and pastries, and a yogurt and cereal bar. I ate some delicious home fries with sausage and a bunch of cheese from a charcuterie board. Then I went back in for croissants and a loaded yogurt bowl. Damn did it all hit the spot.

After we stuffed our faces, we went back to the room to grab our bags. Then we walked over to the discovery center to make a camping reservation for tonight. We were walking by 9:30am and the trail was fantastic. Because we were in a national park and right by a parking area the trail was well managed and graded great. The first 6-7 miles of the day literally flew by. I was feeling really good and all of my aches and pains had gone away.

Sparkle and Trucker walking along the IAT up ahead of me.

A couple hours into the day the trail passed right by a lake. There was a wooden walkway and viewing area, so we decided to stop off. I filtered water from the lake and did my stretching. We took some photos and hung out for a little while before continuing on. The lake reminded me of something you might see in the Sierra Nevada. It was so incredible still and beautiful. I’m looking forward to the rest of Gaspesie which I’m sure is going to be breathtaking.

An epic lake where we took our first break of the day.

The sitting area by the beautiful lake, just off trail.

When we left there, we wound up walking until around 1:30am. The trail had been so cruisy and easy for the last couple of hours. We’re easily going 3 miles an hour today which is lovely. When we passed by one of the refuges we couldn’t resist stopping off for a break. I ate one of the sandwiches that I had packed out which was really good. I even packed out a whole jar of Mayo.

Loving rocky views as the trail began to climb today.

From there we only had about 8 miles to go for the day. It was still plenty early for us to get to our destination in time. The next handful of miles the trail were a bit rocky and rooty at times. But it was never consistently bad. There was some elevation gain but once again it was really gradual. Then the trail pretty much turned entirely into a boulder scramble. We climbed up a small mountain which had a fire tower up top. You were jumping between big boulders the entire last mile or so. But even still we made good time. It was a pretty flat boulder field.

Up at the top there were some epic views and was a really cool fire tower. We headed inside to hang out and take a break. From the top of the tower you had 360 views, and we were looking for caribou. Apparently there are still about 70 caribou in the area that haven’t migrated past yet. It’s always been a dream of mine to see a caribou in person. Along with so many other animals. So we were hoping that we’d get a chance to see one from there. But sadly, there weren’t any in sight.

The fire tower that we decided to take a break at.

There were only 5 miles to go from there. The trail leaving the fire tower was much less rocky, so it made for quick and easy hiking. While we were still pretty high up on rocky terrain, we saw something in the distance. All of us stopped in our tracks as one lone caribou began to walk by. He was such a handsome little guy! We watched for a while as he walked past and grazed. It felt like such a magical moment. He’s one of the last caribou in this area. Soon they will all have migrated on.

A handsome caribou on the IAT!

Trucker got a photo of Sparkle and I with the caribou.

Those last handful of miles that we had to go were nice and easy. The trail was practically a dirt or gravel road the whole way. We passed under a super cool archway at one point and couldn’t resist doing a photo shoot there. Before we knew it, we were arriving at the campground where we planned to spend the night.

A cool archway we passed along the IAT.

Everything was closed and there seemed to be no one around. The discovery center there was closed too which was a bummer. But they had wifi which was still working! Gotta love that. We had reserved a camp site but wound up hanging out inside of a fully enclosed screen room. It seemed like a solid place to spend the night just in case it did rain again.

The office building and bathrooms at the campground we stayed at.

The fully enclosed screen porch that we slept inside.

The campground had a bath house with hot showers. I took such an amazing shower and then got comfortable in my sleep clothes. After that I wound up eating my sandwich by the discovery center so I could also use the wifi. Sparkle and I chilled there for a long time before calling it a night. We walked back to the screen room around 7:45pm and got set up for bed. I wound up falling asleep pretty quickly once I got comfortable.

Day 200: 22 miles

This morning we were up and walking around 6am. Today is Sparkles birthday! We’re gonna road walk most of the way today to have a nice easy day.

In the first couple of miles, we had to cross a river to get to the road. There was pretty much no way to avoid getting your feet wet, so I just had to embrace it. We walked for a couple of hours after that before stopping. The road was super quiet, so we hardly ever had to move over for cars. After a couple of hours, we found a decent place alongside the road to sit down. I ate one of the sandwiches that I still had which was great.

Trucker and Sparkle laying in a water run off ditch.

When we headed out of there, we were only about 8 miles away from a small town, Mont Saint-Pierre. There was a grocery store there that we planned to resupply at. So we headed all the way there before stopping again. The small market had an incredible selection of pastries. I got some jelly filled beignets, chocolate croissants, and banana bread. I also got an egg sandwich and some drinks. My appetite was ravenous.

A small grocery store that we passed along our road walk.

Once we got what we needed we sat out at a picnic table to eat. I stuffed my face! Lately I’ve been able to seriously put away some food. While we were sitting there eating a guy came up and parked nearby. I said to Trucker that I had a feeling the guy was going to come talk to us. Just a hunch based off the way he looked over at the three of us. The guy filled a bucket up with seaweed off the beach and then came over.

He could tell from our packs that we were backpacking or hitchhiking. Apparently, he had traveled around the USA multiple times just hitchhiking around. We talked with him for a bit and Sparkle wound up inviting him to hang out with us later where we were going to camp. Our plan was to walk to a campground in Mont Louis.

The road went right alongside the ocean! I have officially walked from Alabama so far north that I hit the ocean.

After eating lunch, we continued on to do the last 5-6 miles to the next town. It was a nice easy road walk. The muscle behind the back of my right knee was pretty sore though. It kind of came out of nowhere and has felt really tight. Sort of how you might feel after a big day at the gym. I’m just hoping that goes away tonight or tomorrow.

Once we got into town, we stopped off at a small market to grab things for dinner. Sparkle and I both wound up getting these gorgeous dinner bowls from the shop. Mine was a poke style bowl and hers was a quinoa veggie bowl. They looked so good! Then we walked right down the street to the campground that we could stay at.

The delicious poke bowl that I ate for dinner.

The campground actually had a hostel style bunk room and no one else was staying the night. So we decided to stay in there since we would have it all to ourselves. The bunk room was super nice and seemed almost brand new. We got set up inside and then sat out at picnic tables to eat our food. The bowl that I got was amazing! All of us ate and enjoyed. Then we sang happy birthday to Sparkle. She has been carrying sparklers for the last couple hundred miles for this very moment! So she lit them on a big chocolate croissant. It was quite the Canadian celebration.

The bunk room at the campground.

The guy that we met earlier by the beach wound up coming to the campground. He brought a lemon pie for Sparkle! That was super nice. We all hung out and watched the sunset. Then around 7pm I headed inside to take a shower and get comfortable. The facilities at this campground are so nice.

The sun setting across the ocean.

After I showered, I laid in bed and ate spreadable gruyere cheese with apricot crackers. It was indulgent. Trucker and Sparkle came inside just as it was getting dark. All of us chilled in the bunk room and ate more food. I cannot believe how much I ate today. It was truly a feat. Then I put my things to charge and did my stretching before going to bed.

Trucker hoping that I fell in while filling up water. He was filming just in case I did.

Under the cool archway that we passed on the IAT.

The ocean! I have walked so far north from Alabama that I ran out of land. Now we continue to walk east until we reach Cap Gasp, the end of Quebec. I’m quite literally walking all the available land across the east coast.

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Comments 3

  • Al S : Sep 20th

    Cool to see a caribou. The mountain subspecies in Gaspesie doesn’t migrate. Individuals spend their whole life within a 30-mile or so radius. So, sadly 70 represents all that is left of the population south of the St. Lawrence River. 150 years ago there were hundreds of thousands and their range included Maine and New Brunswick.

  • Lish : Sep 20th

    Happy (belated) birthday Sparkle! This post rocks. I am so excited for you 3 strangers having this awesome time! I probably should get out more. But I seriously appreciate being able to ride along this adventure complete with Caribou and all!

  • Sully : Sep 22nd

    Peg Leg, I have been following your journey since it randomly showed up in my Google feed of stories when you were coming through my home area in PA and I’ve got to say you’ve got me so inspired. I’ve changed up my gym routine and started walking every night to begin training for my own trail hike. I’ve never hiked before, but I’ve always wanted to and feel a special kind of connection to nature while walking through the woods around here, even if it’s just a flat rail trail. I don’t see me doing a through hike any time soon, but I will definitely be on the AT doing some section hiking next year. Am I saying you’ve inspired my mid-life crisis? Maybe, but at least it’s better than the sports car cliche LOL. It’s been a joy following your journey and I can’t wait to see where you finally wind up. Stay safe out there!


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