Bike Trip: The Train du Nord
Linear Park:
Day Two - July 1995

Roger Kenner
Montreal, Qc,
Canada 2002

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Day 2: St. Jovite to Mont Tremblant & Home

Tuesday, July 18, 1995

Starting Out

(Scanned in 1997 - Period Brochure)
St. Jovite to Tremblant
I was up at 7:30 in the morning. The sky was still overcast, but the air was fairly warm. It did not appear to have rained during the night. I quickly packed up my gear, so that I could get on my way early. I explored the campground a bit, noticing the nice beaches along the river and wishing I had more time.

I rode back down the road into town where I grabbed a quick breakfast before leaving the main street and taking the side road back down towards the bike path. [This was, in fact, the same road that led to Grey Rocks Inn and then to Mont Tremblant Lodge. It was the old road, the one I would have driven on back in the 70's during my visits to the Lodge. I was to encounter a brand new, direct road as well].

I was on my way along the bike path by 9:00. The previous evening's descent continued for a short while, until I came to a high, wooden trestle over the gorge of the Riviere de la Diable. From that point on, I began a what was a fairly pronounced climb for the old railway roadbed. I was reduced to pedalling fairly slowly.

Up, up I climbed, out of the valley of the Diable River, and back into the trees. I crossed the new highway, that seemed to come out of nowhere. Soon I was once again finding the tell-tale signs of a built-up area.

Tremblant Disappointments

By 10:00 I had reached Mont Tremblant Village. It was a quaint little town, nestled amidst the hills at the foot of the fairly large lake. The most prominent landmark was the church steeple. The old railway station was there, and men were busy working on grooming the bike trail around the station even as I arrived. Across from the station was a sort of town square, and leading up the hill was a small commercial street. There were a number of touristy businesses and some fancy restuarants. I had forgotten that the Lodge was not in the town. I realised that I would have to leave the comfort of the bike trail and ride over the very steep hills of the car roads if I was to make my final destination.

Click to enlarge
((Bibliothèque Nationale du Québec)/(Taken in 1995)
Tremblant Village: Historic & Modern

Click to enlarge
(Taken in 1995)
Mont Tremblant Village Square

(Scanned in 1997 - Period Brochure)
Tremblant Detail
I was not quite ready yet to leave the trail, so I continued along the for five or so minutes as it wound around the lake. Only when I had reached a point well clear of the town did I stop and gaze, longingly, down the trail towards destinations unknown . I knew I would have to satisfy that longing on another trip. I took a picture of my final end-position before turning around to return to Tremblant Village.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1995 Trip)
Lac Mercier: The Road Ahead Beckons….

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1995 Trip)
Out on the Road
When I returned to Mont Tremblant Village it was 10:30. Steeling myself for some serious climbing, I left the comfort of the bike trail and climbed, slowly, up the hill, out of town and towards the Lodge. Thankfully the distance was only a few short kilometres away. I went up and down a couple of quite hefty hills. All along the way, the roadside was fairly built up. I never had the feeling I was out in the country.

As I topped the final ridge, whence I should have been able to see the Lodge, I was surprised by how many brightly coloured buildings there seemed to be. I could see the majestic slope of Mont Tremblant beyond, with its many ski trails and several ski lifts. I could see how the road curved around the base of the long, narrow lake, towards where the Lodge should have been. But I could not see the Lodge.

As I came into the small village, I recognized the area from my visits twenty years earlier, but everything seemed so much more built up. Where I had remembered a sleepy little town, now there were numerous hotels and other tourist businesses. My biggest disappointment was to be encountered at the Lodge area itself. All trace of the old, wooden lodge were gone. There was a hub-ub of activity around the sales office for the tacky condiminiums that were being constructed up the hillside, in mock Swiss alpine style. I could see the paper-thin walls on the ones still not completed.

I walked about the site for about half an hour, leading my bike alongside. I had to keep getting out of the way of teams of sales people leading prospective buyers around. I felt like I was in a used car lot. I saw how the new road I had crossed earlier came right up to the new development. I felt sure that someone must have paid off the Transport Ministry to get such service. The new road was such an eyesore. In fact, the whole place looked like a transplanted Vail, Colorado in the making.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1995 Trip)
The New Mont Tremblant

Around 11:30, despondent at having reached my destination and having found it no longer there, I headed back towards the Village. I had to climb up and over the same hefty hills and was very happy when I finally came down into the town square of Mont Tremblant. I looked briefly through a couple of the trendy shops, but they did not seem too interesting. I glanced at some restuarants, thinking about lunch, but they looked all too fancy and expensive.

Heading Back

So at 12:10 I got back onto the bike trail and began my return trek southwards. It had begun to rain gently by the time I had gotten back to the Village of Mont Tremblant. As I coasted down back down the bike trail towards the bridge at the base of the slope, the rain began to fall in earnest. I had to stop and don my rain poncho and change back into my rain shoes. When I reached the bridge at 12:30, I was all alone amidst a torrential downpour. I stopped on the bridge for a couple of minutes to take in the idyllic scene of the rain falling on the river and the misty views down the gorge. I let my own stream join the rain as it fell the hundred metres or so down to the river.

Continuing on my way, I began the long, slow climb which would bring me eventually to the previous day's summit. By the time I reached the crossroads at St. Jovite, I was cold and wet. I left the bike path to find the small "Casse-croute de la station" maybe half a block towards town. There I doffed all my wet things under the awning and went in to get some hot soup, bread and coffee. The place was packed, and many were fellow cyclists waiting out the rain. When I had finished my meal, so had the downpour finished, though it would remain overcast and drizzly for the rest of the afternoon. At 13:15, having changed into dry socks and shoes, I left St. Jovite to begin the long, gradual climb home.

As I climbed, I was able to look out in the daylight and to pay more attention to the route I had coasted down the evening before. The trail climbed up a river canyon. I noticed the old railway mile markers, and realised that I had passed "mile 71" at the northernmost extent of my ride. I saw side canyons. I rode by a lake, and then rose above it. I was on the ridge and conscious of rapids in the canyon below. I came upon a lake near a lumber mill that was held in check by a dam. The trail rose up and I found myelf passing a second dam and an even higher lake.

At 14:00 I cam again upon the "Station pisicole de St. Faustin", a fish hatchery. I left the trail at the road crossing and descended the ridge to have a closer look. The whole area was done up like a park and the white water was channeled along stone steps. Quite a number of people were about. When I saw that there was an admission fee, I decided to be on my way. Someday I'll have to come back.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1995 Trip)
St. Faustin: La Pisiculture

After St. Faustin, the bike trail began to climb in earnest and I recognised the signs of a road reaching the head of the canyon. The slope got steeper and the trail more wound back and forth more. There was cliff to my right side and the drop off to the left became more pronounced. The sides of the canyon were closing in.

At 14:30 I came upon a dam which stretched across what was left of the valley. It was clearly still part of the St. Faustin complex, as I recognised the same stone channels guiding the spill-of. I stopped and climbed down the slope to get a better look. Then it was back onto my bike and up over the summit.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1995 Trip)
St. Faustin: The Dam at the head of the Pass

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1995 Trip)
Climbing to the Summit
As I reached the summit at Lac Carré, where the vast gravel pits lined either side of the trail, I became conscious of how much darker the overcast sky was becoming. It was clear that another storm was coming. The downpour came at 15:25, just as I was going over the summit. Even after the rain abetted, by 16:05 or so, the sky remained dark and unsettled. As I rode in the rain, around the hillside and out into the open valley past the golf course, I noticed the folks huddling under their clear plastic wraps. A few stout golfers were still playing through. I rounded the corner where the highway was cut into the hillside. Now that I was on the downhill, things went much easier. I found, however, that I could not coast on the wet gravel. Even on fairly pronounced downhill stretches, I still had to pedal in order to keep my forward motion.

It was at 16:05 that I reached the point where the bike trail crossed under the Hwy 117 through the giant concrete railway culvert. Thence it would continued down on the west side. I was riding by some unknown lake around 16:20 and by 16:55 I had reached Ste. Agathe. Below Ste. Agathe I passed the bridge over the waterfalls that I had noticed on the way up. This time I stopped for a few minutes to take in the scene. At 17:20 I came into Val David again and stopped for some hot soup at the very same restuarant where I had stopped on the way up . The third downpour of the day had just ended and I was again wet and cold. I set out again at 17:40.

When I reached Val Morin at 18:00, the clouds had parted and I even some momentary sunshine. Leaving the lake at Val Morin, I noticed how the river to my right dropped ever lower and lower below the roadway, even as the current grew stronger and stronger. I made the summit by Wexler Falls at 18:15.

Early Abandon

By that time I could feel myself "hitting the wall". I did not feel I could make the ride all the way back to St. Jerome. I consulted the bus schedule and found that the last bus I could catch would reach Ste. Adele at 19:05. I knew that to reach the bus stop in Ste. Adele, I would be forced to climb the long hill along Hwy 117 as it leaves Mont Roland. At further towns, like Piedmont, the bus stop would be much closer to the bike trail, but I knew I would not have time to get that far. Even as I pushed myself down the long, long slope from Ste. Marguerite Station towards Mont Roland, I was not even sure if I could make the Ste. Adele stop in time. I knew, though, that I would have a very hard time getting back to the car if I missed that bus. This gave me strength to go faster. I reached Mont Roland at 18:50. I felt the clock was ticking and I quickly left the trail and climbed to the highway.

My poor, tired muscles truly complained as I pushed them up the long, long slope along Hwy 117 from Mont Rolland. I watched the minute hand on my watch with trepidation as I had no choice but to slow down to a crawl on the steep hill. The image in my mind's eye of the bus pulling away from the stop just as I was approaching was almost more than I could bear. It gave me added energy. Thankfully, I got to the summit and found the drugstore, which was the bus station, without too much trouble. I just had time to buy my ticket, lock up my bike, and grab my gear before the bus pulled in at 19:05, right on time.

Ahhhh.... It sure felt good to sit down. I watched through the window as the bus drove down Hwy 117. I could just make out along the way various landmarks I had seen from the bike trail. Although I had been over this section from Mont Roland to St. Jerome three times, I had never made the connection with what it looked like from the highway. Indeed, for all its seeming isolation and tranquility, the rail road line was actually quite near the highway. In the narrow valley of the Riviere du nord, there was not a lot of room.

When the bus pulled into the station in St. Jerome, which was right next to the old train station. I was pleased to see the car still sitting right where I had left it, and in good shape. I stowed my gear and then drove back up the road to Ste. Adele, where I retrieved my bike maybe an hour or so after I had left it. The bus trip had only taken about 20 minutes. Then I was onto the autoroute and heading home.

Daily Report

My daily progress has been described above. [See the Kilometrage Study for more details]

[On to Day Outing with Sheryl]

Prepared by Roger Kenner
March, 2002; April, 2002