|[Read More] about the Picture Key.|
|Trip Plan: Day 4: May 23|
I was up at 06:00and had my baggage packed and stacked in the corner of the room by 07:00. It was raining lightly, so I dressed myself in my rain gear. While waiting for breakfast, I took a short test ride on my bike (which I had locked to the balcony railing overnight). I was trying identify a troublesome noise I had heard the day before, but the noise was no longer there. I surmised, then, that it was a function of my paniers, which were still in the house.
I had been the only guest of the evening and so was the only one for breakfast at 07:30. Carol and his wife served me eggs and toast. The egges were so-so. I think they were deep fried, as were the potatoes. Neither of my two hosts were very talkative.
With breakfast done, I paid and bade my hosts farewell. I carried all my gear down to the sheltered balcony, where I slowly packed up my bike in as much shelter from the rain as I could muster. Before leaving town, I returned to the marina and pier, hoping, despite the rain, to get some of the pictures I had been unable to take the evening before.
|Peribonka: The Boardwalk|
|Peribonka Boardwalk (2002 View)|
|Peribonka: The Opening to the Lake|
|Peribonka: Island Across|
|Peribonka: The Park Across|
|Peribonka: View from the Other Side|
|Image taken from the Web|
|Peribonka: The Highway Makes a Sharp Curve Inland|
|Peribonka to Dolbeau-Mistassini|
|Map of route from Peribonka to Dolbeau-Mistassini|
At 08:15 I set off on my way down the shoulder of the rainy road as it cut away from the river at a right-angle. Almost as soon as I was past the B&B again, I was out into open country. There were no trees to obstruct my view across the countryside, which was cast in dark tones because of the overcast skies. All around I could see the signs of early spring, but the predominant colour was still brown. The skies afar seemed lighter and bore hope that the rain might soon stop. It was only a light rain. I noticed that the road was gently ascending the valley of a small river. I would later learn that this was the Petit Péribonka.
|Peribonka Morning: Setting out in the Rain|
|Towards Ste Jeanne d'Arc: Along the Petit Péribonka River|
At 08:40, and 6km from Peribonka, I came to a split in the road. The main highway crossed the small river, to run along the somewhat higher ground to its far, left side. The route indicator for the Véloroute told me to continue straight, along the secondary 'rang' that led long the same, right side of the river, towards the town of Sainte-Jeanne d'Arc, at a further distance of 6km. My goal for the morning, the larger centre of Dolbeau-Mistassini, was still 20km away.
I had forgotten that just on the far side of the highway bridge was a small roadside halte where we had stopped for lunch back in 2002.
|Roadside Halte near Sainte-Jeanne d'Arc (2002)|
|White Water under the Bridge(2002)|
The rain had stopped by the time I started up the side road, but the sky was still grey and overcast. The road remained wet. I had seen on the TV weather report at the B&B that sunshine was promised by Wednesday.
I continued up along the river, encountering many more ups and downs than the main road on the other side. There was now a row of farmhouses on either side of the river. The countryside continued to be basically flat farming country. Farmers and farm equipment could be seen out in the fields in Spring preparation, which included the sweet, earthy smell of liquid manure being pumped onto the fields.
|Towards Ste Jeanne d'Arc: Across the River from the Main Highway|
|Towards Ste Jeanne d'Arc: Strange Clouds on the Horizon|
I reached the town limits of Sainte-Jeanne-d'Arc at 09:15, but was still far out in the countryside. At this point, I had an incident with this big, white dog. He came running out of the farmhouse grounds to chase me down the road, and I had to pedal hard to stay ahead of him until he tired.
I came upon a small, private dame on the River, coupled with a small powerhouse and electric lines leading upriver towards the town.
|Ste Jeanne d'Arc: Mini-Powerhouse|
Not too much further along, I came upon this massive farm complex as I rode over the rise. Next to the farmhouse, and as big, I saw this house-like structure which had windows all around. At first I thought it was a greenhouse, but then I realized it was an indoor swimming pool! When I would mention this to my innkeeper of the evening, Claudette, at the far side of the lake, she was able to name the town before I did. Everybody must know everybody else around the Lake!
|Ste Jeanne d'Arc: Approaching Massive Farm Complex|
|Ste Jeanne d'Arc Farm: Horse Barn|
|[See Original Photo]||[See Original Photo]|
I came to the centre of town just 5 minutes past the farm. I found there an old-style mill, millpond and small waterfall. It was to see this that the planners of the Véloroute had suggested the detour from Route 169. It was not much. Still, the ride had been more pleasant than the along the highway. It had not really been out of my way, as only half a kilometre up a residential street brought me out to the highway presence of Saint-Jeanne-d'Arc - a couple of gas stations.
|Ste Jeanne d'Arc|
|Ste Jeanne d'Arc: Old Mill Dam|
|Ste Jeanne d'Arc: Historic Mill|
|[See Original Photo]||[See Original Photo]|
|Ste Jeanne d'Arc at Main Road: Welcome Sign|
It was 09:30 when I returned to Route 169. I was still 10km distant from Dolbeau-Mistassini. I rode along the nicely paved shoulder of the main highway. I was never completely out of sight of was the sparse presence of houses and businesses along the way, but the countryside was made up for the most part of fields of would-be potatoes and blueberries.
At 09:50 I made a 5-minute stop at the very same marché-aux-puces where Sheryl and I had stopped on our first pass through this area in 2002.
|Approaching Dolbeau-Mistassini: Old Flea Market|
|Welcome to Dolbeau-Mistassini|
|Street map of Mistassini|
When I reached the the Dolbeau-Mistassini line at 10:15, I noticed that the road had become quite busy. There was lots of heavy industry on both sides of the road, interspaced with residential sections, and this brought a heavy increase in both cars and big trucks. It began to rain once more lightly.
I reached Mistassini Centre at 10:35. The highway would have cut right through the old town, but I decided to turn to the right and take a short gander at the two-block long downtown section. It had clearly seen more prosperous days. An awning in front of one of the stores gave me a welcome respite from the now quite vigourous rain.
I reached the spectacular falls at 10:45. These falls were one of my principal memories from my first trip to the Lac Saint-Jean region, and I had been left with the feeling that I had really wanted a closer view and more time. The main road cuts through Mistassini and comes to the lip of the gorge through which thunders the mighty river and it cascades down step-like falls. The highway then runs along the edge of the gorge as it drops down to the river level quite a ways upriver. There is a bridge, and then the highway climbs back up the the high ground, to follow the line of the river back down along the far side. Down in the gorge is a campground and a walkway along the groomed, stone-edged border of the rapids.
|Mistassini Falls High Panorama|
|[See Original Photo]||[See Original Photo]||[See Original Photo]|
|Overlooking Mistassini Gorge|
|Sheryl at Mistassini Falls (2002)|
I followed the main road to the bridge, where I found the access road for the gorge and returned, right along the river. Although I was supposed to stop at the park gate to check in, I just boldly rode right through. There were few campers, all of them in RVs. I stopped at many points along the rapids to get different sets of panoramic photos. When I had to change film, I found this huge tarp staked out in the wet grassed and climbed under it to use it as a tent. [I thought this was a great idea!]
|Mistassini Falls Panorama-1|
|[See Original Photo]d>||[See Original Photo]||[See Original Photo]|
|Mistassini Falls Panorama2|
|[See Original Photo]||[See Original Photo]||[See Original Photo]|
|[See Original Photo]||[See Original Photo]||[See Original Photo]|
I hung around the rapids for about half an hour. Then, around 11:15, I climbed back up the same part access road, back to the highway bridge, and crossed over to the far side of the river. I was now headed for the 'D' of Dolbeau-Mistassini. At the bridge I had encountered a bicycle lane and this brought me to a protected bicycle trail on the far side. The road curved back on itself and was headed back in the same direction as it had descended upstream to cross the river. Only now the road was on the high ground. The bicycle trail ran along the parkland on the gorge side of the busy roadway, with a line of trees shielding most view of the gorge. Although I could see the town of Mistassini clearly, almost all trace of the gorge vanished in the trees, hidden like it was not even there. I did find one spot where I was able to stop and get a narrow view.
|Bike Path into Dolbeau|
|Looking Back on the Gorge|
|Looking Back on the Gorge|
|Mistassini across invisible gorge|
I came to a tourist information kiosk, but it was closed, except for the welcome washroom. Not too much further along, I passed the entrance, on the far side of the road, to this gigantic monastery.
Soon enough, I came to yet another bridge and another set of falls. This was the Rivière aux rats, a major tributary to the main river. It was as Dolbeau/Mistassine that these two great rivers came together, just prior to emptying into the quiet waters of Lac Saint-Jean. The volume of water, and the thunderous rapids as it descended shelflike from the bridge, was almost as great as had been the Mistassini. I stopped at the bridge for a few minutes to take in the scene and to get some photos.
|Dolbeau: Second Crossing|
|Dolbeau Bridge: Rapids Upriver|
|Dolbeau Bridge: Rapids Downriver|
|Dolbeau Falls Panorama (2002)|
|[Panorama 1]||[Panorama 2]||[Panorama 3]|
|[Panorama 4]||[Panorama 5]||[Panorama 6]|
|Dolbeau Bridge: Fancy House on Shoreline|
Riding up the incline of the bridge, I came into Dolbeau. It seemed a much more lively and vigourous town than had been Mistassini. I rode about around the downtown core, where I found that a mall had been erected over two city blocks of the main former street, Boulevard Walberg, . As I rode around the mall, through the parking lots on either side, I could see from the backs of the buildings that the roof had been built right over the existing street - somewhat like what I had found at Charlottetown in PEI. I saw the words 'Town Hall' chiseled into the door frame of a stone building built in 1931, a visible bane to historical revisionists.
|Dolbeau Street Map|
|Dolbeau: Boulevard Wallberg|
|Dolbeau: Historical Revisionism Exposed at Town Hall|
Completing my circle, I stopped in at a traditional old town cafe, complete with a counter and old-fashioned stools. The Café Rio was quite crowded, but I was able to settle into a window booth where I could keep ane eye on my bike outside. From 11:55 to 12:15, I enjoyed some hot soup and the thick homemade bread style toast that came with it. The warming soup felt quite welcome on such a cold day!
Dolbeau: Cafe Rio
|Dolbeau: Historic Theatre on Boul. Wallberg||Dolbeau: Restaurant on Boul. Wallberg|
|Boulevard Wallberg in Former Days|
I was on my way again at 12:30, but it was 12:45 before I finally left the town. I spent some time riding around trying to see if there might not be a bike trail I was missing that would go along the river. (There was not.) I called Sheryl on the cell and left her a message that "with this left turn, I am heading home". Indeed, I was heading home, for Dolbeau-Mistassini marked the furthest extent of my distance from Montreal. Every pedal cycle hereafter would be bringing me closer to home, some 500km away.
I had quite a bit of confusion finding my way out of town. I was not taking the main road, Route 169, but rather Route 373. The main road, Route 169, was designated by as the official Véloroute, but it made a big loop to the north, going some 25km out of the way, to pass through the town of Normandin. My immediate problem, as I was to discover eventually, was that the shorter road had once had the designation as Route 169, and not too long ago. There were still many signs that announced Route 169, making me think I was headed in the wrong direction. With the signs and the map saying different things, it still took me a while to put it together that some of the signs I was seeing were left-overs from before the route change.
I finally ended up on this long, straight residential street lined with new, suburban homes. It gave way rather suddenly to open countryside. Mileage markers indicated that St. Félicien was 21km distant, which confused me. What the signs referred to was Sainte-Méthode, which had been recently annexed by St. Félicien. Consulting my map, I was reassured that I really had 33km left to go. Every kilometre between Dolbeau and Sainte-Méthode was marked. These markers gave me hope as I faced a really strong headwind; at least I could see the mileage numbers slowly decreasing.
|Dolbeau-Mistassini to Saint-Félicien|
|Map of route between Dolbeau-Mistassini to Saint-Félicien|
|Along Route 373|
The whole area was open and flat. What trees there had been had been cleared to provide for vast blueberry fields - still a ruddy brown in the early Spring. The wind from the direction of the lake was very strong and my knees began to complain because I was forcing them too much. It's a feedback thing. Since I was riding on flat ground, or even going downhill sometimes, it felt like I should be going faster. I would compensate by pushing harder on the pedals. It took a conscious effort not to press too hard on the pedals, to use a constant, light pressure, regardless of how slow I was going. I was forced to make constant gear changes, to adjust to the gusts that would come and go. Free-wheeling became too easy and was uncomfortable, so I would gear down. Then 30 seconds later, it would be too hard on my knees and I would have to gear up. Route 373 had no shoulders (for they expected cyclists to take the longer route) and was the preferred path for most of the local transports. I developed the skill to share the road with these big behemoths. They would go around me, with wide berth, if they had the room. If not, I had to quite the roadway, for they would could not stop and would pass me by with inches to spare. I learned to gauge their distance by the sound, and then to look ahead for oncoming traffic. As I started quitting the roadway with enough time to let them pass, I found my life much easier and felt much safer.
I could sense that the highway followed the precipice of the Mistassini Valley, but the trees at the far end of the open fields to the left blocks all view. Since looking beyond the first, thin line of trees, I could see only treetops, I realized there must be a drop of fifty feet or more down to the river.
I soon came to the new town boundary of Saint-Félicien. I would later pass the previous emplacement of the very same sign, on my way between Saint-Méthode and Saint-Félicien proper.
|Welcome to St-Félicien (New sign Location)|
|Between St.-Méthode and St-Félicien:
Where the sign used to be
At the occasion of one of my short stops, looking at the cutaway for the roadway, I noted how thin the soil layer was at these latitudes.
|Thin Soil Layer|
At another point, I came upon this most interesting house.
Towards the end of this segment, the roadway began gently to climb, allowing me to see out over more of the valley. The mountain wall that formed the western boundary of the valley of Lac-Saint-Jean came into view once more. No longer was it a distant and purple haze. I could now begin to make out details. It remained overcast, cloudy and cold, with a fierce wind, but I could make out behind me distant patches of blue sky.
|Blueberry Fields along the Highway|
|Blueberry Fields: View West towards Mountains|
Invisible to me at ground level was the quiet joining of the waters of the Mistassini with those of Lac Saint-Jean.
By 13:35, I had ridden 10 of the 20km to Sainte-Méthode. By 14:20, I was at km20 of 20 and had reached Sainte-Méthode. Just a little before that point, I stopped to take photos of the blueberry fields by the airport. Unbeknownst to me, my innkeeper of the evening, Claudette, passed and saw me. She recounted later how she had thought at that instant, "Must be my cyclist!" When we would met later, and as proof of what she told me, she would identify my yellow panier covers before she ever saw them.
|Blueberry Fields near the Airport|
A bridge over the Ticouapé River marked the entrance to Sainte-Méthode. A tall, stone church at the far side marked the centre of the town. Here I would rejoin Route 169, coming down from the north. Once again, there would be a wide, paved and marked shoulder for cyclists.
|Church at St-Méthode|
I stopped at a riverside bench before the church and rested while I looked out on the river. My knees were toast! I was not looking forward to the next 5km. The strong wind had been coming from my left, off the lake tothe south, or. Now, I would be turning southward and heading directly into this wind. The open river and the marshland beyond would offer no shelter whatsoever.
|St-Méthode: Resting along the Ticouapé River|
I rested to 14:40 and then steeled myself to continue on my way. I would have sought some hot refreshement, but there were no businesses in Sainte-Méthode, only the church and some houses. Houses continued to line the road, to my right, as I headed downriver. The countryside was open to my left. There was the river, then the empty marshes beyond. A dedicated bike path ran a short distance out of town, but then I was dumpted back onto the roadway.
I was being very careful with my knees as I rode directly into the strong wind. I rolled in my easiest gear and was only offering the slightest pressure on the pedals: Just enough to keep me going. Still, I was not the slowest thing around. I caught up with some kayakers who had passed me on the river while I had been resting and messaging my knees.
|Leaving St-Méthode: Directly into the Wind!|
About halfway along my 5km purgatory, I came to the pull-off for a marsh boardwalk. I stopped there for 5 minutes. I was a welcome break from fighting the headwind. I might have explored the boardwalk more fully, but my tender knees did not feel like walking much.
[Read the Information Plaques]
|View Out over the Marshes|
I was immensely grateful when the road finally turned to the right and I was only facing a wind from the side. It was still hard going, but much better than before. I began a long, long stretch of straight road through the flat fields as I descended to the distant icon of Saint-Félicien, clearly visible ahead. Although the fields were open to the right, there were low trees to the left, sheltering me somewhat from the incessant wind. My knees were weak and I continued rolling with the least resistance possible, moving ahead very slowy despite the fact that I was heading downhill. I felt no benefit from the slope.
I passed a stone cairn on the far side of the road which had obviously been the emplacement of the 'Welcome to Saint-Félicien' sign I had seen earlier, some ways to the east. The shape was so obvious. This solidified my hunch that Saint-Méthode had only recently been annexed.
|Approaching St-Félicien: Where the sign used to be|
|Self-Portrait near St-Félicien|
I reached the long, low bridge over the Ashuapmushuan River at 15:45. Before crossing, I paused for some photos. The town of Saint-Félicien stretched up and down the river on the far shore. It was a wide river, obviously an arm of Lac-Saint-Jean at this point.
|The Ashuapmushuan River|
|View Downriver from St-Félicien Bridge||The St-Félicien Crossing|
|Street map of Saint-Félicien|
Once across the bridge, I located the main street (Rue principale) and ascertained which way the address numbers were going, then I turned left and continued most of the way through town to where my B&B for the evening was located. I arrived at the B&B at 16:15 and met Paul, who was the only one there at the time.
|Lodging: Day 4: Saint-Félicien|
The setting was fantastic! The house had a wonderful terrace in the back, overlooking the river. My room was magnificent and spotless. Carefull attention had been paid to very detail - the towels, soap and shampoo, etc. There was a Mike's restuarant just down the street, so I had Paul stow my bike in the garage right away, as I carried all my gear up to the room.
My room has a 'private' bathroom across the hall and just at the top of the stairs. One other door at the top of the stairs led to another guest room, which was empty. Since I had to cross this public space to get to the bathroom, they provided lush, terrycloth robes. There was another room downstairs, where the fireman and his wife were staying. Then there were two other rooms upstairs, but they could only be reached via the second floor terrace, built out over the living room. These rooms had their own, private outdoor entrances. A connecting door could have added my room to one of the terrace rooms, had there been need.
I showered and changed into my street clothes before coming downstairs with my notebook and a glass of wine, with ice, in my hand, ready to sit out on the terrace and write.
|[Qtourist Guide 2005 B&B]|
Monday, May 23: Peribonka to Saint-Félicien: ~ 90km Lodging in Saint-Félicien Gite a fleur d'eau 1016, Boul. Sacre-Coeur 418-679-0784 re: "Claudette" $60
|[See Original Document]|
I got to the rear entrance just in time to meet Claudette Nadeau, the wife of the innkeeper. It was a difficult first impression. My hands were so full of stuff that I could hardly shake her hand. She was impressed. Where did you get the ice and the wine? (She had none.) Wow! He comes with his own wine and ice! There's no point in offering him a beer!
She invited me to sit inside, but I opted to remain out on the terrace for a few minutes. As I finished my wine and wrote in my notebook, I could see Claudette and Paul sitting inside with two other guests, overlooking the river through the big bay windows. At a certain point, Claudette brought me out some munchies and asked me again if I would not like to join them.
So as not to seem anti-social, I came in. I had become conscious of just how chilly and breezy it really was outside anyway. Claudette offered me a beer and then wanted to know my whole story. I learned that she and her husband, both retired, just love to talk and were very friendly. I met the other guests, a young couple from France and then another young couple from France who had with them a small child. He was a fireman from around Marseille. Another, young, Swiss guy was staying upstairs, in the room next to mine.
They all showed great interest in my trip. Claudette shared that she had seen me earlier, by the airport, with my yellow panier covers. I realized, in reflecting on the day, that I had ridden some 60km that day. Claudette was very interested in my stories of the B&B in Peribonka, and she knew of the Marroccan Restaurant; indeed it was know all around the lake. I had only to mention the farmer with the indoor pool and she was able to name the town.
After a long conversation, everyone was finally ready to head out their own way for supper. I walked over to the Mikes, which was just one block away. There I had a pizza/spaghetti combo, a large draft beer and the special free dessert. While waiting, I called and made reservations at a B&B in Berthierville. (I had left the last day open, in case Sheryl might want to come up and join me; this did not appear to be the case.) The young couple with the baby came in and sat at a table nearby. As I ate, their young son kept making eyes at me.
Saint F., Mikes-Supper: Pizza/spaghetti combo, beer & free dessert.
After supper, I returned to find Claudette and Paul still ready and eager to talk. I sat at the dining room table as they worked in the kitchen on muffins for our breakfast. Finally, when they were done, we all sat around the table together. The young fireman joined us. They lay a mattress on the floor in the hallway just outside their room, for their young son, since there was no crib. [The main entrance to the house was no longer in use.]
We talked until 22:30, the time limit that Claudette had placed, in advance, on our evening. As before, the conversation was lively and stimulating. It was with some regret that I finally retired up the stairs to my room.
B&B in Saint-Félicien
I had no need to get up early the next day, for I was only planning on going about 50km, so I called Sheryl on the cell and then stayed up a while and watched TV. Breakfast was to be at 08:00, so I set my alarm to wake me at 07:00.Top