Sleeping Alone in a Cabin in the Woods

ECT Day 197&198

IAT Day 28&29

Day 197: 23 miles

This morning I was up bright and early and walking by 6am. I have to get solid miles in today no matter what! That’s my goal. I thanked the man from Toronto for the food he so generously gave me. Then I began hiking.

Today the trail crosses out of Matane Reserve and into Gaspesie National Park. I’m hoping for a drastic change in terrain between the two. If the trail in Gaspesie could be a bit easier that would be wonderful!

The brief 1 mile stretch of road that I did this morning.

A waterfall just off of the IAT.

Once I left the shelter I followed along a road for a mile. Then I began a 6.5 mile climb up Mont Matawees. I was pleasantly surprised that the climb was graded wonderfully! The first few miles of the day went by and I was easily doing 2-3 miles per hour. That made me ecstatic. By 8:15am I arrived at a shelter which was 5.5 miles into the day and decided to take a quick break. I felt so relieved to be moving at a solid pace. If I can keep this up then I’ll easily be able to do a 20+ mile day today.

I managed to maintain at least 2 mile per hour pace as I did the last climb up Mont Matawees. I was so proud of myself! The grade of the climb was perfect. From there I began a short descent and then yet another climb. Though this one was much quicker. Then I had one last climb to go after that. The rest of the day looked nice and easy after the final climb.

This morning it really looked like fall is coming!

I reached the top of that last climb a half an hour sooner than expected. I’ve been assuming 2 mile an hour pace at best lately. But in reality, my place is now returning to a 3 mile an hour pace. I couldn’t be happier. Up at the top there was a building which was locked. But I was able to hide behind it to be protected from the wind. It was a foggy and windy afternoon.

The sign for Mont Matawees.

There by the protection of the locked building I took a quick break. I did my stretching and pulled out some snacks to eat. The next few miles all appear to be on a gravel road! My god how I have missed easy road walking. So I figured that I’d be able to eat while I walked and make even better time.

Views of the trail up ahead.

The road wound up being nice and easy. It was practically all downhill for the next 4 miles. Other than one super short climb or two. I passed by two incredibly nice refuges. I couldn’t resist heading inside to take a look. Both were so incredibly nice. They’re basically just cabins with a bunch of bunks and a kitchen area. Nicer than any shelter you could ever imagine.

One of the beautiful refuges that I passed today.

The inside of the refuge.

I passed by those two refuges without breaking. Then after a few more miles I got to another shelter, the La Croisee Shelter. It was more like a warming hut though! The building was fully enclosed with a wood stove in the center. You aren’t supposed to sleep at this particular shelter. But I imagine that you could in a pinch. I planned to go a ways further though.

The warming hut that I passed.

The inside of the warming hut. You’re not supposed to sleep inside but it made for a great break spot!

At the shelter I ate and stretched. Then planned to push out as many more miles as I could. It had started to rain lightly but it wasn’t too bad. The trail had a bit more elevation gain for the day but all of it was unbelievably gradual. I missed this! Over the next few miles, the Far Out map was off a bit. There were comments on Far Out about the trail being 1-2 miles longer than it is marked as. That was definitely correct, so I had to account for that. But because I was finally making good time the extra mile or two really didn’t matter.

Entering Gaspesie National Park!

In the early evening I got to the Carouge Refuge and took my next break. The refuges are all so incredibly nice. They have a kitchen area, wood stove, and bunk rooms typically. This is the third fully enclosed shelter that I’ve passed today! They are all so well taken care of.

The view of a lake through the refuge window.

Around 3:30pm I decided to continue on. There is a camp site and a refuge further along the trail that I am aiming for. Leaving the shelter, I had to do a little bit of climbing. But nothing too crazy. The trail was super muddy and flooded in places though. It was hard to navigate around it and keep my feet from sinking in. They weren’t dry but I still didn’t want to get them crazy muddy if I could avoid it.

When I was nearly at the camp site, I wound up slipping in the mud a bit and fell back into it. My whole ass was covered in mud. Luckily though my pack cover was on, so my backpack was still clean. There was a stream nearby, so I cleaned myself off and continued along. I wound up deciding to go past the camp site to the refuge. It was a Saturday and the refuge was right on a road, but I still had some hope that it would be empty.

A lake right in front of the refuge that I slept at.

I got to the road around 5:45pm and then had to walk down it to the refuge. The sign read that it was 1km down, which is pretty far as a side trail. But there is really no place else nearby to camp, so I figured I’d give it a try. When I arrived at the refuge, I realized it was way bigger than the other ones. This one was two stories tall and much bigger overall. Inside there was a fully enclosed porch and a nice yard overlooking a lake. Then a giant dining area with seating for maybe 20. Downstairs there were 2 bunk rooms each with 4 bunks. Then upstairs was a giant bunk room with about 10 beds. I had never seen anything like it! And the place was completely empty, on a Saturday.

The large two story refuge that I stayed in.

Sitting in the refuge cooking dinner.

I sat inside and filtered my water. Then I decided to make dinner and relax. As it got later and later, I knew that no one else would be arriving. I got set up in one of the bunk rooms downstairs for the night. Then I did my stretching and ate some snacks. I was able to lay everything out to dry which was great. My feet are a bit of a wreck! They have a few cuts on them and some rubbing. The past couple of days they have just been wet and muddy constantly.

Being alone in the giant empty house in the woods was a bit weird. There are no lights or anything inside as you would imagine. These buildings don’t have electricity. They are just amazing fully enclosed cabins. I could hear some scurrying around upstairs but knew it was a mouse or something. That sound has become easy to recognize.

Today for the first time in days I set a goal and I exceeded it. The miles have not been easy lately. But luckily the terrain is calming down a bit and I can manage more miles. I had hoped to make it at least 18 miles today but wound up doing 23 which is great. Now I’ll be able to get to “town” a bit earlier.

Day 198: 33 miles

This morning I was up and out of the refuge bright and early. Once again it was raining. The last few nights it had rained every night but stopped in the morning. This morning rather than backtracking the mile to the IAT I am going to follow the dirt road to the next camping area. And while it’s the same mileage it will definitely be quicker walking the road. My hope is that I can do a 30+ mile day today and maybe catch up to Sparkle and Trucker.

A grouse crossing the road.

As I suspected the road walk was nice and easy. It was super flat and actually went by some really pretty lakes. I was making great time and wound up walking for a few hours before stopping. When I came across a nice dry pull off along the road I couldn’t resist stopping. The sun was peeking out a bit, so I took the opportunity to eat something and stretch.

A beautiful lake that I passed by this morning.

I hadn’t seen a single car all morning but as I sat there alongside the road a bunch passed by. I must have looked crazy, per usual. After eating and stretching I continued along. I had about 6 more miles to go before I would arrive at a discovery center. There are a couple of those in the area for the Gaspesie national park. The discovery centers will usually rent out gear, help with camping reservations, and have a small resupply.

A river flowing down below the road I was walking.

I got to the discovery center around 11:30am. Initially I thought I’d get there around noon, so this was even better! For the first time in almost a week I was able to use wifi too. I’ve really enjoyed not being able to use my phone. All I use it for on trail is music and my maps. I was able to text Sparkles to see where they were at. And apparently today they took a zero at a hotel in the park to wait for me! Which worked out perfectly, because I was planning to stay somewhere near there tonight regardless.

Now I just have 16 more miles of road walking to go and I’ll be back with my friends! The next 6 miles were still dirt road which is nice. At least you hardly have to worry about cars driving by. When the dirt road ended and the main highway picked up, I sat down briefly. I was getting a really intense cramp/muscle spasm in my shin. It came on so quickly and I wasn’t quite sure what to do. I wound up KT taping it and hoping for the best. There was a lovely river so I sat by it and took a breather. I had packed out a coke from the discovery center, so I drank that. Then kept walking and hoped for the best.

Another wild candy bar that you can find in Canada!

The sensation in my shin was really intense but also unique. I knew it had to be a spasm or a cramp because I could feel it moving. When I rubbed the area, I could get the pain to move more towards my ankle. That provided a lot of relief. Though because it was near my shin, I was still initially worried about all of the typical ailments.

Moose crossing.

Then while I was walking, I swatted a fly with my left hand and my wrist cramped up in a similar way! That helped me to realize that it’s not necessarily a shin problem. Maybe more of a cramping and muscle spasm issue? Somehow that made me feel better.

A river flowing along side the road I was walking.

As I walked the sensation in my shin slowly faded away. Somehow the more miles I did the better it felt. I wound up getting to the Gaspesie discovery center in Mont-Albert around 4:45pm. I stopped at the store first to do a resupply. Once I got in touch with Sparkles earlier, I was able to coordinate a bit. We’re gonna resupply again in 2 days so I don’t need much.

I got the food I needed for a couple days and also got a ton of snacks and drinks. Then I headed over to the Gite du Mont-Albert where Sparkles and Trucker had a room. I was so excited to be reunited with my IAT tramily!

A bunch of sandwiches that I got at the discovery center.

Once I arrived, I got comfortable and took a shower. We all caught up a bit after hiking apart for the last week. This was a really tough section, so it was nice to be able to talk to other hikers about it. Then all of us headed over to the restaurant by the hotel for dinner. I got a Shirley temple and such an incredible burger. My body was so happy to have the protein. I’ve felt deprived this last week. I still feel a bit sore but definitely better overall. I don’t know what was happening with those muscle spasms today.

The Gite du Mont-Albert.

After dinner we headed back to the room to chill. I packed my resupply and charged my devices. We plan to hike out tomorrow morning but be back in town in two days for Sparkles birthday!

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Comments 10

  • Phyllis Gentry : Sep 19th

    You are an inspiration! Love reading your blog. Glad you caught up with your Tramily.

    Regarding your muscle spasms and cramps, are you keeping up your electrolytes? I work at a doctor’s office and he sometimes recommends pickle juice for patients who experience muscle cramps and spasms.

  • thetentman : Sep 19th

    Nice post.

  • Kevin M O'Connor : Sep 19th

    Maybe you need more potassium?

  • Bob : Sep 19th

    This post is so different than your previous 100, are you ok?

    Did an AI write this?

    Not a single “So damn…”

    Send 2 So Damns in your next post to prove you are ok.

    Hope all is better than it seems


  • Dockwobbler : Sep 19th

    Next store you run across…grab some single dill pickle packs, or a jar if need be…also drink down all the pickle juice too…it has potassium which should aid those spasms and muscle cramps. I keep a gallon jug of pickle juice on hand at home and take a pull off of it as needed for a day or three until my leg cramps subside. Happy trails, J

  • Reg McPhee : Sep 20th

    Your picture shows a Spruce Grouse. They are actually an inhabitant of the boreal forest found much further north, but appear locally in the Chic Chocs due to the harsher conditions of the mountains. Normally, we would see Ruffed or Sharp Tailed Grouse here in the south.

  • John Sewell : Sep 20th

    A happy birthday to Sparkles.

    I’m glad you rejoined your Tramily, nice of them to zero so you could catch up at the nice hotel and a shower.

  • Alex : Sep 20th

    Peg Leg,

    HOOAH!!! You have caught up to Sparkle and Trucker. Glad your knee problem has gotten better. Take care of your feet. You need to watch out for mud puddles. If you stop to play in them it might slow you down :). Tell Sparkle HAPPY BIRTHDAY. You haven’t made any reference to your 2oz purchase. Is it all gone already?

    Take care and keep on trucking.


  • Alex : Sep 20th

    Peg Leg,

    HOOAH!!! You have caught up to Sparkle and Trucker. Glad your knee problem has gotten better. Take care of your feet. You need to watch out for mud puddles. If you stop to play in them it might slow you down :). Tell Sparkle HAPPY BIRTHDAY. You haven’t made any reference to your 2oz purchase. Is it all gone already?


  • Paul : Sep 20th

    Your site is awesome. I follow some other thru hikers, but yours is by far the best.
    You should write a book when you’re done and taking a break.

    I’m a retired old guy fighting cancer. We all used to love hiking in the Appalachian Trail,with my wife and boys. I can’t do much right now with chemo. It will get better.

    My Dad was president of the local Appalachian Trail Club in the 70’s. They’d maintain the trail from Harper’s Ferry to Pen Mar Park
    We live in the Cumberland Valley in Maryland.

    Be safe. God Bless. I pray our Father keeps watch over you and keeps you safe from harm and all Evil.


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