Bike Trip: The Train du Nord
Linear Park:
Day Two - July 1998


Roger Kenner
Montreal, Qc,
Canada 2002

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Day 2: Ste. Agathe to L'Annonciation

Friday, July 24, 1998

Getting Started

I slept in fits during the night. At one point I woke up and was freezing cold at one point, so had to put on a shirt. My watch alarm went off at 06:00, but I ignored it. I did not finally get up until 06:45 and it took me nearly an hour, until 07:40, to get all my gear packed up and loaded back onto the bike. Once done, I lumbered the heavy truck back up over the town's steep hill in the direction of Dunkin Donuts, where I had breakfast.

Early Morning Riding: Ste. Agathe to the Summit

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Heading up the Road from Ste. Agathe
By 08:40 I was done with breakfast and rode the short distance from the shopping centre to rejoin the trail at the “gare”. I headed north along the same way I had last seen in 1995. The trail led off through the woods in a medium climb. The wind was coming head on again, and was fairly strong. The sun would not peek over the surrounding hills 09:25. While there were occasional downhill sections, but the way was mostly straight as an arrow, with a steady climb.

At a certain point I came out of the woods and found myself following the trail across a marsh. A small creek wound its way back and forth through the grasses and reeds.


At 09:40 the trail passed under Hwy 117, crossing from its west to its east side. Here was the cavernous concrete tunnel in which I had taken refuge from the heavy rain back in 1995. Although it was sunny and warm outside, it was dark and quite cool within the tunnel. Coming out the other side, the trail curved to the north again, continuing straight along, through flat, marshy country. At one point it led right through the middle of a campground. Hwy 117 was just to the left, and often visible through the trees.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip/Map used in 1998)
The Underpass under the Hwy 117Map
 

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Open Countryside near the Summit
The countryside began to open up and flatten out as the trail went around a golf course. It was a pleasant change from the scrubby trees which had lined both sides for quite a while. Soon, though, the open valley closed up again until it was little more than a gap through the hills. The trail was just below the highway, maybe 50 feet, as both went around a rock cutaway. As soon as I rounded the corner, I encountered an even stronger headwind than before. I was in my lowest gear even on the flat! The sides of the gap continued to close in. Pine slopes replaced marshland and I was climbing steadily. At least the trees sheltered me from the wind. I was still climbing at 10:30, when I passed the km 65 sign.


Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Along the 117, Just Past Rocky Curve
 

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Coming into Lac Carré at the Summit
I reached the summit, 426 metres, at 10:50. In the summit area, the trail straightens out. There is a lumber yard and then a few houses. Hwy 117 curves off to the left. Soon a vast gravel pit opens on both sides of the trail.

The summit is at km 67 of the trail. I stopped there to chat with others take some photos of the quarry. I met four who were coming down from Mont. Laurier.


Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
At the Summit: 426 metresQuarries at the Summit
 

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Quarries at the Summit
 

Late Morning/Early Afternoon: Summit to Mont Tremblant

(City Web Site)
Lac Carré Topographical Map
I was on my way once again at 11:10. From the summit, the trail dropped down immediately into a small, narrow valley. The grade would be such that I would be able to coast all the way down into St. Jovite. Ten minutes later, at 11:20, I was passing the little town of Lac Carre. I had stopped here in 1995, on my way home, and had bought a snack at Marche Lachenaie.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Lac Carré
 


Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip/Taken on 1995 Ride)
Train Station at Lac Carré
 

Click to enlarge
(Bibliothèque Nationale du Québec)
Lac Carré
 

Once again, the trail struck out into the woods. Down into the narrow canyon I went, and along by the lake and the dam, and soon I was passing by the Pisiculture at St. Faustin. It was 11:40, and still fairly cold out.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
The Trail Goes OnThe Lake past the Summit
 

At 12:05 and km 80, I was riding along the Ruisseau Francais when I came to this odd bridge, by a lumber mill. It was both bridge and also dam, holding back a small lake. Although the scene was very interesting, I could not manage to get a good photo.

At 12:15 I was in St. Jovite. There was little to see at St. Jovite. The trail crosses the highway well on the eastern outskirts of town. The old train station has been removed to the town's main street, leaving only an empty park. The only thing around was my “regular” restaurant, just half a block towards town from the trail. I had eaten here in 1995, coming in soaked with rain as I had gotten caught in a downpour while returning from Mt. Tremblant. I stopped there again this time and had a tomato sandwich lunch for $5.

Click to enlarge
(City Web Site)
St. Jovite
View of TownBike Trail Crossing - Looking South
 

I was on my way again at 12:40. From St. Jovite the trail continues its long downhill from the summit a bit further, until it reaches the Pont du Diable, a high trestle over the Diable River. I reached this bridge at 13:00 and stopped for a short lookout.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Trestle Crossing La Diable at St.JoviteLooking down on La Diable from Trestle
 

From the bridge, the trail begins to climb once again, until it reaches Tremblant Village, on the shores of Lac Mercier. I reached the village at 13:30 and spent about ten minutes to looking around. I had spent quite a bit of time at Tremblant Village back in 1995, for it had been the end of my ride. I did not feel like there was much left to see. The whole area looked pretty touristy, so I continued on my way at 13:40.


Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Mont Tremblant in the DistanceTrain Station at Mont Tremblant
 

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip/Taken on 1995)
Mont Tremblant Village
19981995
 

Leaving the town, the trail hugs the edge of Lac Mercier as it goes nearly 3/4 of the way around. At first the hillside was quite steep, but soon it opened out and the landward side became lined with a series of fairly fancy houses.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Looking out on Lac Mercier at Tremblant Village
 

I soon came to the point where, in 1995, I had been forced by limited time to turn around. It felt good to be on trail which was brand new to me, no longer knowing what was coming up ahead.


Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip/Taken on 1995 Trip)
The Trail around Lac Mercier
The 1995 Turnaround Point ... The Road Beckoned - I have Returned
19981995
 

Breaking New Ground: Into the Rouge River Valley

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Looking back on Tremblant Village from far side
After the very beautiful and peaceful ride around the lake, the trail wended up into a marshy area between two hills. I passed a sign indicating that this marshy area was “the summit”, but I certainly did not feel it. Quickly afterward, however, the trail started to drop rapidly. A long, serious downhill ensued, where I could coast without pedalling. As soon as I left the lakeshore, the houses vanished and I was surrounded by deep forest. As the trail came down out of the hills, the vista widened onto a vast, open, and grassy plain, stretching off as far as I could see. What a surprise, for I had expected more mountains!


Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Marsh at the Summit: 234 metres
 

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Trail past La Conception junction
At 14:40 I found myself out on the open plain, at a lonely road crossing labelled “La Conception Station”, except there was nothing there. I looked up and down the road to see only farmer's fields. It seemed to be horse breeding country.

Click to enlarge
(Map Used on 1998 Trip)
See Full Map in Supplements
Bike Trail Map
 

I passed the 100km marker at 14:45, and felt a sublime sense of accomplishment. The trail continued along in a straight and seemingly flat manner. In reality I was in a long, steady climb, which only became obvious to me when I looked back. I was in a wide, open valley, with farmer’s hay fields on my right and low, scrub forest on my left. I could see all the way back up the trail, for there was nary a curve.


Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Entrance to Halte L'Achillée Millefeuille
As I was going along this straightaway, I came to the most interesting place out in the middle of nowhere. It was a "halte santé" called L’Achilée Millefeuilles (French for the herb: "Yarrow"). A tiny bridge led over a creek and into this mystical garden. A large number of bikes were parked in racks. Inside was an open air bar, and lots of wooden benches and tables, strewn about this green, green shady garden. A large number of hippie-like people were gathered about. Some cyclists were sitting about eating. Some others were sipping juices at the bar. I took a look around and took some photos and resolved to bring Sheryl to the place. I was on my way after ten minutes.


Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
L'Achillée Millefeuille
 

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
L'Achillée Millefeuille
 

As I set out once again, the countryside remained flat, and was mostly hay fields as before. Low mountains all around defined the valley, which I would come to realise was the valley of the Red River. Although it still seemed flat, the trail had now had a slight downhill tilt, where earlier I had been climbing. The strong headwind remained my constant companion.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Trail past La Conception junctionTrail nearing Labelle
 

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Train Station at Labelle
I came to the re-conditioned train station at Labelle around 15:20. There was a small museum and coffee shop. I bought a trail pass for $10 and spoke with the attendant about the trail up ahead. I relaxed and some coffee and a yogurt, then I explored the old CP Caboose they had on display. I was on my way at 15:40.


Old CP Railway Caboose at Labelle
Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
 

Click to enlarge
(Guide Touristique L'Annonciation 1998)
Along the Rouge at La MacazaSource
 

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Covered Bridge at La Macaza
 

When I came to the trestle at La Macaza at 16:10, I recognized the location instantly. Here was the swimming hole I had come to many times in the late. One of my first outings with my brand new, blue Honda wagon had been to this spot in 1980. The scenery had completely changed. In those days the railroad line was in use. Only sparse, low bushes covered the area. The sandbar by the river was thick with cars and people, even with tiny camper trailers set up for the Summer. Now all was thickly overgrown with trees and deserted.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Trestle La Macaza
Road Across the TopView of Old Swimming Hole Below
 

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Rapids beneath the Bridge
I spent about ten minutes exploring the bridge and climbing down to the water level to get a better photo. Then I moved on.

I had not realized it, but I had crossed into the regional municipality of Antoine Labelle, and they had erected a series of historical plaques along the trail that would accompany me all the way to Mont Laurier (See the entire set in the Supplementary Sources section). When I noticed the first one, I was out in the middle of nowhere, but the plaque told me that where I was had once been Daoust Station. When the railway was extended past Labelle in 1904, it was here that the original station for La Macaza had been built. Later, in the 1920s, the station was moved into the town and Daoust became a switching yard. I continued on my way at 16:30.

Evening at L'Annonciation

Click to enlarge
(Guide Touristique Hautes Laurentides 1998)
L'Annonciation
 

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Reaching L'Annonciation
I was starting to get pretty tired by the time I finally rode into L’Annonciation at 17:30. I was anxious to find the campsite that was mentioned in my travel companion booklet:

I rode to the centre of town, where, as I expected, there was an information kiosk. The helpful young girls directed me to the “cyclo-camping municipale”, which was just for cyclists. It was down at the lower end of town, away from the main road, and right by the Red River. In fact, it was at the back of the city park, behind the playground and baseball diamonds. I found the park attendant and paid my $5 fee and set up my tent, right on the river bank. There is no way I would have found the place without directions!

It was 18:00 when I got to the camping area, and by 18:30 my tent was up and I was ready to explore the town where I would be spending the evening.


Click to enlarge
(Travel Booklet)
Camping
 

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Camping at L'Annonciation
I rode back to the old train station where the tourist info was located. People were setting up for some sort of live rock music performance that evening, and already the local townspeople were beginning to gather. I rode up and down the main street, Hwy 117, the length of the town, checking out the restaurant possibilities. I finally settled on a pizzeria for supper. I had soup and pizza for $15. I used the pay phone to call the campground I had selected for the next day, 9km from end of the trail, to try to make reservations, but I was not successful. I also used the pay phone to call Sheryl and tell her of my progress and to say goodnight.

It was cold when I left the restaurant. I put on my rain poncho for warmth and rode back down, in the fast fading light, towards the campsite. By the time I got there my area, under the trees and away from the faint park lights, was pitch black. I had to do everything by lamplight. I was worried about the food in my saddlebags, being so near the woods, so I took it out and put it loose into a plastic bag which I slung up over a tree branch a good distance from my camp.

I spent some quiet time sitting down on the beach by the river, whose current was very calm at that point. It was 09:00 when I climbed into my tent to retire for the night.

Click to enlarge
(Guide Touristique L'Annonciation 1998)
L'Annonciation West part of TownL'Annonciation East: City Park Campground
 

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Train Station at L'Annonciation
 

Daily Report

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

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Prepared by Roger Kenner
March, 2002