Bike Ride - Spring 2005:
Montreal to Lac-Saint-Jean by Train
& Return to Montreal via the Mauricie


Roger Kenner
Montreal, Qc,
Canada 2008

[Day 1] [Return to Menu] [Day 3]
(See Copyright Notice on Menu Page)

Lac Saint-Jean Bike Ride - Spring 2005:
Day 2: Jonquière to Alma
Saturday, May 21, 2005


Picture Key
Original Photos
Period Documents
My photos, other times
Other, modern sources
[Read More] about the Picture Key.
Period Document Composite
Trip Plan: Day 2: May 21

 

Jonquière Morning

I was awake at 06:00. I showered before anyone else would claim the washroom and then set about re-arranging my paniers. (I had new paniers and learning to stow everything properly would prove to be a learning experience.) When I looked outside at the dark, grey skies, I could tell it would be another day like the evening before and so I made sure everything was properly stowed for a day of cycling in the rain.

By 07:30, I was down for breakfast and seated with a family from Sorel: A Hydro-Quebec worker, his wife and their son. 'Huguette' was more talkative in the morning than she had been the night before. She served up a great breakfast of eggs, ham, toast, and cretons. The breakfast conversation turned, naturally, to bicycle touring, as all were curious about my endeavor.

(B&B Website: 2005)
Breakfast Room at Gite du Marquis: Jonquière

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050520)
Jonquière: B&B

Breakfast was done by 08:00 and I began packing up my bike. I carried my a bags down from the room and arranged them in the shelter of the steps, as much sheltered from the rain as I could get. In my repacking, I had placed all my rain gear at the top of the paniers. I pulled the yellow rain covers that came with my new paniers down over everything in the back. Since this cut any easy access to my rear paniers, I had to stow in the front paniers stow those things I would need during the day: My sweater, my leggings (for the cold), my wind breaker and my rain poncho.


 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Jonquière: Morning View from B&B

 

Once I got my way at 08:30, I began by returning to the nearby IGA I had visited the evening before. This time I bought some water, some food and some ice for my small cooler.) It was 09:00 when I left the market.

Market, Jonquire IGA
Cartotek Map
Jonquière Map
Street Map of Jonquière

 

Between 09:00 and 10:00, I rode about my small corner of Jonquière. I started out riding back down along the short waterfront bike path, to its end at the dam. I rode across the dam, and a bit below on the far side, in order to get some pictures looking back. Then I rode back across and up from the waterfront to the main street.

(I would learn that this dam, le Barrage Joseph-Perron, was actually the first of three dams on the Rivière des Sables as it stepped down the steep slopes into the Saguenay Gorge.)

(Hydro Quebec Website: 2008)
La Rivière des Sables
Map of Dams on the Rivière des Sables

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Jonquière: Des Sables Dam: Bike Path Bridge

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Jonquière: Des Sables Dam: Spillway

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Jonquière: Des Sables Dam: View Downriver

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Jonquière: Des Sables Dam: Looking Back on Dam

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Jonquière: Looking Back on Downtown & Lookout Hill

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Jonquière: Looking over towards Factory

 

I came upon this sort of 'summit park' in the centre of old Jonquière, a huge stone hill which towered over all the low building of the town. I was able to climb up to the lookout point at the top and have a 360-degree vantage view over the whole town.

(Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Jonquière: Lookout Hill

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Jonquière: Parked at Lookout Jonquière: Lookout at Centre of Town

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Jonquière Lookout
View West towards B&BView South over Downtown
View East View North over River

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Jonquière Lookout: View over Downtown

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Jonquière Lookout: View over Railway Trestle

 

It waws 09:30 when I rode over to the nearby large, indoor shopping mall at the corner of Harvey and Saint-Dominique, where the stores were just beginning to open. My goal was to find some sort of clasp which would fix my nylon leggings to the bottom of my bike shorts. While these leggings, borrowed from Sheryl, were great at keeping my legs warm in the cold, they would soon inch down, leaving my upper thighs exposed. I almost ended up buying a garter belt, in order to pirate the clasps, but it was too expensive. In the end, I tried something from the dollar store, which did not end up working too well. I continued to have the problem.

By 10:00, I figured it was time to head on out of the town of Jonquière. I continued east along Saint-Dominique until it became Price Street. The homes along the residental street became a bit fancier. I passed close by the huge Price paper mill complex, the steam of whose giant stacks had been a visible feature of Jonquière during my visit. I passed a huge city park near the entrance to the mill, also named after the Price family. Thereafter, the road began a big, big descent, down into the gorge of the Saguenay river.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Jonquière: Gates at Factory Entrance

 

Crossing the Saguenay

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Leaving Jonquière: Descent into Saguenay Gorge

 

As I sped down down the steep descent, I knew that there would be payback later, but it was a great rush nonetheless. The road had widened, giving me lots of room, and my heavily-weighted bike was soon rushing along at almost automobile speeds.

At the bottom were the thunderous rapids of the Saguenay River. The angry water coursed through a stark, gravel riverbed, almost as one would find at the base of a glacier. The roadway crossed over the river in a new, modern bridge, but there was an older, abandoned one nearby.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Leaving Jonquière: Bridge over the Saguenay

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Saguenay River: View Upriver to Old Bridge Saguenay River: View Downriver

 

Cartotek Map
Jonquière Map-3
[See Larger View]

On the way down, I had caught a quick glimpse of the white water exiting the massive dam upstream, but this view was lost by the time I got to the bottom. Before crossing, then, I decided to take a short detour along the road that led up the western side of the river. I got some close-up pictures of the old, overgrown bridge, and came around the corner to where I could get a vista of the dam.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Saguenay River: The Old Bridge

 


Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Saguenay River: View Upriver towards Dam

 

Cartotek Map
Jonquière to Alma Part One Map
Map of Jonquière to Alma

 

By 10:15, I was back at the bridge and riding across. I stopped in the middle to take in the view of the river below, as it lunged its way towards its nearby rest at tidewater at Chicoutimi, barely a few kilometres away.

The road ended in a 'T' intersection just atop the short, steep ridge at the far end of the bridge. It was Route 174. I turned left on the busy, two-laned road and hugged the nearly non-existent shoulder as I slowly and labouriously began my climb up the eastern wall of the gorge. The cars and the trucks raced by me, for I was moving at only a snail's pace as I climbed.

Near the lip of the gorge, the road cut westward, angling up below a massive earthen dam. Then it turned back to its original direction as it closed the last remaining few hundred feet to the lip of the dam and gorge.


 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Shipshaw: Chute à Caron Dam: Climbing up towards Dam

 

Upon reaching the top, I crossed the road and pulled over to the edge of the dam. From there I had a good view back down into the gorge whence I had looked up at the same dam less than an hour before. I stayed there for many minutes studying the scene with my field glasses and getting as best photos as I could in the dark, stormy light. Across on the far distant side of the gorge, I could see this torrent of white water cascading down in a magnificent waterfall; it must have been that same quiet river alongside which ran Jonquière's little bike trail, la rivière aux sables.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Shipshaw: Chute à Caron Dam: At the Top

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Shipshaw: Chute à Caron Dam: View of New & Old Dams

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Shipshaw: Chute à Caron Dam: View across Dam & Climbing Road

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Shipshaw: Chute à Caron Dam: View down Gorge

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Shipshaw: Chute à Caron Dam: View down Gorge

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Shipshaw: Chute à Caron Dam: Powerlines

 

Continuing on my way at last, I reached the town of Shipshaw at 11:00. Above the dam, the waters of the Saguenay River were quiet and calm - like a long lake. Homes were built along both sides. I soon lost sight of the river, though, as the road underwent a series of ups and downs as it headed into town.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Leaving Jonquière

 

(Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Welcome to Shipshaw

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Shipshaw: Saguenay above Dam

 

I stopped at the far end of the small town, under the awning of a school that I could reach by riding my bike up the concrete ramp. I had to stop and remove my leggings and sweater for the rain had stopped and I was beginning to overheat. I kept the rest of my rain gear on, however. The resumption of rain seemed imminent.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Shipshaw: Roadside Shrine

 

At 11:15, I was at the far end of the town of Shipshaw and heading back out into the countryside. The main highway, Route 174, took a turn to the right, to climb up higher and become more distant from the river. It appeared from my map that the smaller, unmarked roads, the rangs, would allow to me continue in a straight line, all the way to my distination of Alma without having to make the detour. I would also be closer to the Saguenay River, though still not in view of it. I would eventually discover that my choice had been in error. There were lots of deep ravines nearer the river and I found myself having to bike up and over a seemingly endless series of steep hills. Later, when the pavement gave out, I would find it very hard to push the heavy bike through the wet, sandy soil of the roadway.

Saint-Ambroise

At 11:40, and still optimistic about my route along Route Saint-Léonard (Rang 2), I crossed the town line of Saint-Ambroise.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Welcome to St-Ambroise

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
St-Ambroise: Rapids on the Des Aulnaies River: View North

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
St-Ambroise: Des Aulnaies River goes over the Precipice

 

Saint-Charles de Bourget

Half an hour later, at 12:10, I crossed into the town of Saint-Charles de Bourget.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Welcome to St-Charles de Bourget

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
St-Charles de Bourget: Lakeside Cottages

 

I came to a crossroads where the sign indicated that Saint-Charles Centre was 2 km away, towards the river. The rang I had been following was along the high ground, but I could not see the river. I figured that two kilometres was about the right distance, and that old centre of Saint-Charles probably sat right on the water's edge. It seemed worth the detour, though I knew I would have to climb back up afterwards.

As I excected, the two kilometre ride was almost all downhill, except for the drop into one cross-ravine out of which I had to climb once again.

I was not long in Saint-Charles, from 12:30-1240. There was almost nothing there! It was a tiny, old collection of homes built around one big, wooden church. The town was almost on an island, so cut off was it by march-filled ravines all around. The cemetery in the tiny town was in preparation for a funeral at the church. Lines of cars parked around the church told me that the funeral must be in progress. The town had no businesses whatsoever, not even a depanneur. I did get my view up and down the Saguenay. The waterway was still calm, probably the work of the dam downstream. It seems about a quarter-kilometre wide at that point.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
St-Charles de Bourget: Dropping down towards Town Centre

 

Click to Enlarge (Town Website: 2008)
Saint-Charles-Bourget
Aerial View of Saint-Charles-Bourget

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
St-Charles de Bourget: Saguenay View

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
St-Charles de Bourget: Saguenay View

 

Click to Enlarge (Dumas 99, Page 91)
Saint-Charles-Bourget
View of Saint-Charles-Bourget

 

Towards Saint-Nazaire

Cartotek Map
Jonquière to Alma Part Two Map
Map of Jonquière to Alma

 

Done with my excursion, I set myself to climbing back up the road. At the first side road, I decided it would be more interesting to take a different route back. The side road appeared to curve around and end up back at the high rang I had been following, just a bit further on. My new road turned to dirt almost at once. There was a sharp curve back towards the river and a drop to the bottom of another deep ravine. Now, much closer to the river, the ravines were quite pronounced, almost like canyons. I passed a few, isolated farms nestled in the ravine. Then the road turned up in the direction I had been heading.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
St-Charles de Bourget: Dirt Road Hell

 

I had no sooner rounded the curve and begun climbing up Rang 1 when I discovered I had a flat. Exasperated, there was nothing to do but unpack all my gear and flip the bike over to change the tube. I accomplished my work in record time, from 13:15 to 13:30, and then I packed all my gear back on and resumed climbing up the dirt hillside.

I became quite nervous for I was now without a spare tube. I had also seen that my rear tire was pretty well toast! The tread was completely bald and the remaining rubber was very thin. By 13:50, I had climbed back up to Rang 2, the road I had been taking before the detour. Signs at the crossroads indicated that I had progressed only two kilometres along my main direction towards Alma. My detour had been about 4km altogether.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
St-Charles de Bourget: The Long Climb back Up

 

At this crossroads, the pavement and the 'main road' took a turn northwards. The route I had intended to take further eastward would continue to be dirt road. As I looked eastward and saw the hills, I remembered the steep ravines I had been through recently and decided to abandon my plans of heading towards Alma along the back roads. I decided to follow the paved road and climb back up towards the highway.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
On 4e Rang: Blacktop & Hilltops

 

It was a gradual, but constant climb. Almost as soon as my wheels touched pavement, however, I felt a great sense of relief, and my legs thanked me. As I continued my climb, I came to realize just how high up the main road was. I reached the junction of Rang 4 and Hwy 174 at 14:35.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
On the Main Road-Route 172: Approaching St-Nazaire

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
On the Main Road: Valleys & Gullies

 

The sky had grown quite dark. It seemed like 19:00 or so. But at least it was not raining. Thank God! As I approached the town on the far hill, I noticed the beginnings of a shallow ravine through which the road threaded. I could see that it got more and more pronounced in the direction of the river. I guess this was the reason the main road was so high up and so far away from the Saguenay itself.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
On the Main Road: Valleys & Gullies

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Welcome to St-Nazaire

 

It was 15:00 when I came into Saint-Nazaire. I stopped into a casse-croute at 15:05 for a snack, but once inside I decided not to risk my health by eating anything. I had a quick coffee for $1.40 and then was on my way again within 5 minutes.

Coffee, Saint-Nazaire

On to Alma

The highway threaded through and over some more hills. Off in the distance, I could see the plumes of steam rising from more pulp & paper complexes. Coming down once more out of the hills, I came to a 'T' intersection with Route 169 at a small collection of houses and gas stations called Delisle Junction. Alma was just over the hill, to my left, while to my right Highway 169 began its tour of Lac-Saint-Jean. The rain started as I was climbing up the hill towards Alma.

Town of Alma Map
Alma - Entrance
Map of Approach to Alma

 

Cartotek Map
Approaching Alma Map
Map of Alma Approach

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
On the Main Road: Descending towards Alma

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Alma Intersection: Looking back on Route 172 from Route 169 Junction

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Welcome to Alma

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Alma: Bike Path on Road into Town

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax on 050521)
Alma: Resort/Musuem at Visitor's Centre

Alma's tourist information centre was in a small resort/museum complex. By the time I reached the tourist office at 16:00, it was pouring rain. I stopped in to warm up and to have a friendly chat. I got a map of the town and was given directions to the town's only bike store, a big, modern store called 'Vélo Cité". It was Saturday and I knew the stores would close at 17:00, not to open until late morning (if at all) on Sunday. I also got directions to my B&B for the evening.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050522)
Alma Tourist Information

 

Just over the hill, the road descended to the bridge over La Grande Décharge, the main outlet from Lac-Saint-Jean. This large waterflow ran at the base of a deep gorge, spanned high up by the highway bridge. Upstream, atop the hill over which I had just come, was yet another massive dam, holding back the waters of the lake. In the days before the dam, the water flow must have been impressive indeed!

I had encountered a bike path upon leaving the tourist information centre, and this path led me to cross the highway so as to cross the bridge along its downstream side, where there was a protected bike lane. Despite the rain, I stopped in the middle of the bridge to get a photo. My camera had been giving me problems. Only the Summer before, it had jammed and I had taken it for repairs. Now it was acting up again. The mirror would come down and stop. I would have to advance. the film in order to clear the jam. It finally gave out completely at the bridge. It jammed and I could not clear it. I had brought my wife's camera along as well, just in case. It was packed deep within my dry paniers and I did not feel like opening everything up to get at it. I left the photo, vowing to return the next day.


Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050521)
Alma: View towards crossing La Grand Décharge

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050521)
Alma: Bike Path across Bridge

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050522)
Alma: La Grand Décharge-Looking Downriver

 

Alma Evening

At the far side of the bridge, the bike path dissolved into the back streets of Alma's suburbia, on a side street that paralleled the main road. I headed straight on in to the bike store, which was behind the town's big shopping centre. I got there at 16:30 and bought new tubes, a new patch kit and a brand new tire. I packed all these away, and then exchanged cameras in my paniers. The first picture on my wife's camera would be of the travelling fair that was set up in the parking lot of the shopping centre.

Alma: Velo Cite
Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050521)
Alma: Fairgrounds at Shopping Centre

 

Town of Alma Map
Alma Downtown 1- Entrance
Alma Downtown Street Map

 

My directions were via the main road, so I headed back over to meet it. So far, Alma had been fairly flat, but then I reached the lip of this steep descent. What had been a wide boulevard narrowed to two, busy lanes as I entered the older section of town. I was not really watching the side streets as I descended the steep hill, clamping down hard on my wet brakes to keep my speed under control. Once I had reached the bottom, I realized that I had overshot the side street upon which was located my B&B. I would have to climb back up! I hiked the bike the couple of blocks up the sidewalk.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050521)
Alma: B&B

 

Qtourist Guide 2004-2005
Alma B&B
[Qtourist Guide 2005 B&B]

 

Saturday, May 21:  Jonquière to Alma:  ~ 50km

Lodging in Alma:
Gite Almatoit
755, rue Price
418-668-4125
818-668-4125
re:  Jean-Guy Girard ($50) 
[See Original Document]

 

It was 17:00 when I reached the Bed & Breakfast, a big, Victorian home on a vast, tree-covered lot. It seemed so out of place amongst the tiny, wooden houses pressed tightly together all around it, like the manor estate. I met Jean-Guy, the innkeeper. The B&anp;B was called AlmaToit. It was a strange, yet beautiful house. All the interior was done in beautiful, natural wood, shined to perfection with oil. I would learn that there were two other guests. There was no key to be given, for there were no locks on the doors, not even the outside door. Jean-Guy had been waiting for my arrival, but now he had to go out. 'Help Yourself to a beer', he said. When I asked the location of restaurants like 'Mikes', he scolded me and said I could eat at Mikes anywhere. I was duty-bound to try out some local restuarants, and he gave me directions to a few.

After visiting my room, unpacking and changing into my cold weather gear (nylon leggings and sweater), I headed on out to explore around 17:30 to further explore Alma. I dropped down the back streets to the rapids of La Petite Décharge, an uncontrolled set of rapids that ran right through the centre of town. I wanted to get as many pictures of the marvellous rapids as I could; they had so impressed me as we had passed through the town a few years earlier. Still, I was working with an unfamiliar camera. After a few false starts with my wife's Nikon, I ended up having to change my first roll of film after only a few photos, due to a mis-understanding, I had thought the roll was full.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050521)
Alma: Hill back towards B&B

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050521)
Alma: La Petit Décharge

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050521)
Alma: Pedestrian Bridge over La Petit Décharge

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050521)
Alma: La Petite Décharge: View Upriver

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050521)
Alma: La Petite Décharge: View Downriver

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050521)
Alma: Along La Petite Décharge

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Pentax in May, 2002)
Alma: Petite Décharge (2002 Views)

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050521)
Alma: La Petite Décharge: Flow past Downtown

 

Town of Alma Map
Alma Aerial View - Downtown
Aerial View of Downtown Alma

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050521)
Alma: Church

 

Dumas 99
Alma Aerial
Aerial View of Alma

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050521)
Alma: La Petite Décharge: View from Downtown
2002: View

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050521)
Alma: La Petite Décharge: View from Downtown

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050521)
Alma: La Petit Décharge: View from Downtown

 

I rode through the tiny downtown and then climbed up the far side of the steep hillside, to find the restaurant Jean-Guy had suggested: Resto-Roberto. I got there at 18:30.

The waitress had a strange accent. When I asked what the daily soup was, it sounded like she said 'Creme de Menthe', which made no sense. When I repeated this incredulously, she looked at me in just as funny a matter. We finally negociated the meaning to be 'Creme to Tomates" I ordered soup, had a main course of spaghetti with vegetables, and downed a couple of beer. I called Sheryl while waiting for the food, and then it sat there for some time as we had a long conversation.

Alma: Resto Roberto
Qtourist Guide 2004-2005-Composite
Supper-Alma
[See Original Page]

 

I was not out of the restaurant before 19:30. Resto Roberto was perched high on the hill on the western side of the ravine of 'La Petite Décharge'. I could follow the new boulevard across its high span and could see all the way to the Petro Canada station where I had turned from the new boulevard towards the old route upon leaving the shopping centre a few hours earlier.

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050521)
Alma: View from Restaurant Hill

 

Click to Enlarge (Taken with Nikon on 050521)
Alma: View Downriver from Restaurant Hill

 

I made my way back down the hill and along and across the river by downtown, climbing at length up the back way to reach the B&B. I stowed my bike in the basement, as had been arranged with Jean-Guy, then I went up and took a nice, hot bath. I was just getting down with my bath when Jean-Guy and the other two guests returned.

He offered me a beer and we sat in the living room and talked for about an hour or so before I finally retired for the evening.

Alma, Almatoit
Top
On to Day Three
Prepared by Roger Kenner
August, 2008. lite-version: October, 2008