Pat Danforth with Pauline Waelti and Peter Molnar at an aid station in the Chic Chocs, Gaspe Peninsula. (Photo contributed)

Column: Ski touring in the Gaspé

Eat, sleep, ski!

What a way to spend our six days on the Gaspé Peninsula late February.

With all our accommodation needs, meals, and transport of luggage taken care of, all we had to do was avail ourselves of the wonderful food, the comfy accommodation, and then ski every day.

The Traversée De La Gaspesie is in its 16th year. The organizers have plenty of experience addressing all the logistics of moving 130 skiers and snowshoers through six days of activity, and from location to location.

We started in the Chic Choc Mountains for two days then bused to the Gaspé National Park for two then ended with two days skiing Forillon National Park. The terrain was challenging, given it was mountainous with many steep uphills and downhills. It was roughly tracked by snowmobile. But there were also many undulating sections for relief, and spectacular views to reward the adventurer.

One day was an arduous 12km ski up a logging road into the Chic Chocs but at the top we were rewarded with amazing views, The eight of us – Peter Molnar and Pauline Waelti, Chris and Tina Letham, Pat and Dave Danforth, and Jim and I – came home with a better understanding of the Quebec coast and great memories of getting to know folks we met from the Gaspé and other parts of Quebec, plus skiers/snowshoers from across Canada and the U.S.

Over the six days we skied just over 110 km.

Day 4, in Gaspé National Park, which had promised freezing rain in the forecast, had its distance ski plan scrapped and shorter outings made available. Five of us chose to take in the two-hour snowshoe option along the river with Jacques, a very knowledgeable guide, well-versed in flora and fauna of the region. It was a welcome change to the somewhat strenuous skiing of the rest of the week. Greeting us every morning at breakfast was the accordion player Sylvie, who, when she found out that there were a number of singers in our group, called upon the “B.C. choir” to accompany her in “You Are My Sunshine” on many the occasion, then expanded it to include “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.”

She seemed pleased to have this gaggle of English-speaking singers join her in the few English songs she knew, among this predominantly French-speaking crowd. The eight of us were at a distinct disadvantage in that none of us is bilingual but we managed to get by on the little French we knew. And when the going got tough, there were many kind folks who came up to us and offered to translate the talks given at night and in the morning, mostly about the day’s ski route and schedule. It was humbling not to be able to speak both of Canada’s official languages

Given the wonderful, mostly sunny weather, the fabulous food and accommodation, the wintertime introduction to the Gaspé Peninsula, the sometimes challenging skiing, and the terrific folks we met and got to know, and the amazing volunteers it was a most successful Traversée. Glad to have had the opportunity to explore this lovely part of Canada.

The Larch Hills Junior Racers won the BC Championships for the fifth consecutive year last weekend. Next week 14 of the racers will head to Thunder Bay to compete in the national Championships. Best of luck to these LH skiers!

As well, our very own Natalie Wilkie will head to PyeongChang, Korea, to compete in the Paralympics nordic skiing events March 9-18. We will be cheering on our home-grown Olympian!

Keep skiing!

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