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


Roger Kenner
Montreal, Qc,
Canada 2002

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Day 3: L'Annonciation to Lac des Écorces

Saturday, July 25, 1998

Morning

I was awake at 06:15, just as the sun was rising over the river. I opened my tent door wide, leaving only the screen, as I watched the peaceful scene of sun and river mist for half an hour. Finally, I was out of my tent at 06:45 and packed and out of the campround by 07:15. I rode back into town, where I called Sheryl at 07:30 and had a breakfast of pancakes at 07:45.

Morning Ride: L'Annonciation to Lac Saguay

By 08:15 I was on my way. I stopped by the trail and prayed that the Lord would be with me that day, then I set off as the trail led on along the river's edge and just behind the row of businesses that faced the main street. At the edge of town my track veered off into the forest and well away from the road.

Click to enlarge
(Guide Touristique L'Annonciation 1998)
L'Annonciation to Nomininque
 

At 09:00 I made a stop in the forest. It was sunny and the sky was blue with little wind and no clouds. All was very quiet except for the distant sounds of Hwy 117. I had crossed to the other side of the highway and was now headed in a southerly direction, according to the sun, which was now 90 degrees to my left. I was at km 136 and the trail was straight, with a little downhill tilt.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Along La Rivière RougeLac Nomininque
 

Click to enlarge
(Guide Touristique Hautes Laurentides 1998)
Lac Nominique
I came to Lac Nomininque and Pont de la Barrière at 09:40. After spending a few minutes passing along the lake shore and enjoying the beautiful vistas out vast blue lake, I finally reached the town of Lac Nominingue itself at 09:55.

The old rail line actually passed quite a distance from the town, which I saw down the road to the right. There was a small kiosk by the highway, where the old station must have been, and the whole area was abuzz with people parking their cars, organizing their bikes, and preparing for a short ride.

Just before reaching the station, I had passed a most interesting section where there were lakes on both sides of me: Lac Nominingue and Petit Nomininque. Each had beaches already beginning to fill up with people on that sunny morning.

I stopped at Nominigue Station for five minutes or so, backtracking to get a proper photo.


Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Nomininque Station
 

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Trail Climbs after Nomininque
After Nominingue, I had left the settled area behind once more and was back into the empty forest. It was 10:30 when I passed km 150 milestone. The trail was beginning to climb again and it was clear some mountains.

All was dead quiet when I would stop. While rolling, the only sound was the friction of my bike tires on the gravel. In the heat of the day, not even the birds made any sound. I came upon a snake, sunning itself on the trail. It was black with a yellow stripe on both sides and was about two feet long.

At 11:00 I at km 154, where there was an iron bridge crossing over what, at the time seemed like just another bubbling mountain brook. I suspect, in looking at the map in retrospect, this was the Rivière Saguay, draining Lac Saguay into Lac Petit Nomininque. I was probably riding up the river valley, although I had no visual sign of it at the time.

Click to enlarge
(Guide Touristique Hautes Laurentides 1998)/Trail Guide: 1998
L'Annonciation to Lac Saguay
[See Full Map]
 

From 11:20 to 11:25 I stopped at km 156 and talked with the patrouilleurs.

I stopped at the "Pointe d'Observation sur Marécage" plaque to look out over the marshland and read the explanations

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
A Mountain LakeBeaver Dam
 

At Noon I was just past the km 160 marker and entering a long climb, with deep wood on both sides of the trail. It was like being on a mountain road: a steep cliff to the left and a sharp drop-off to the right. I stopped to look at a beaver dam, and then at a curious hunting blind.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Hunting BlindAround though the Hills: Serious Climbing
 

I reached Lac Saguay, 162km, at 12:15. There was little on the trail except for a small park with a couple of picnic benches. At this point, though, the trail was only a block away from the highway, so I decided to leave the trail and cut over to find a restaurant at the road. Lac Saguay was pretty small and there were not a lot of choices. In fact, there was only one. I had the longest wait for a hamburger at this tiny roadside casse-croute!

The atmosphere was not that great, so I ordered my hamburger to go and when I got it I rode back over to the trail to eat it in the tranquility of the little park. I was on my way again at 13:00.

Afternoon Ride: Lac Saguary to Lac des Écorces

Click to enlarge
(Guide Touristique Hautes Laurentides 1998)
Lac Saguay to Mont Laurier
[See Full Map]
 

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Marshland near the Summit
 

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
The Trail leads on through the Wilderness
Looking ForwardLooking Back
When I set out again, it seemed like I was going down. The little town of Lac Saguay had seemed so much like a "summit" sort of place that it made sense. I was not going down, of course, for 35 minutes later I came upon a sign that announced that I had reached the "summit". It was 13:35 and I was at km 167. All around me was a vast marsh, full of standing water. As I rode, I tried to sense which direction the water was beginning to flow. Finally, I began to notice a definite flow in the same direction as I was headed, and so I knew I was going down at last. The weather had become a bit windy and the sky was filling with clouds.

At 13:45 I am at km 170, at a point where the information placard informed me that a train had derailled in 1947. I rode by what had once been the town of Guénette, now totally deserted, where the trail made an almost 180 degree turn.

The real descent from the heights started at about km 172. At 14:10 I was at km 174.

I came upon these intriguing signs which showed that in Winter the trail was very much alive as a snowmobile highway.


Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Snowmobile Roads: Jct with '315' at Kiamika
 

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Lac des Ecorces
(From my eventual campsite)
I reached Val Barrette, near Lac des Écorces (Shell Lake), at 15:15, at km 185. Suddenly I had come out of the wilderness and found myself among houses and fenced backyards. I began to look earnestly for the campground where I had planned to stay the night.


(Trail Guide 1998)
Camping
 

Click to enlarge
(Source Document)
Camping Yvon
I finally arrived at the exit for the camping at km 191.5 at 15:50. The entrance was right off the bike trail, just up a small hill along a dirt driveway. "Camping le Monde Yvon" was indeed very rustic. When I got there, the owner and his family were working around a small cookhouse. Down the hill, across the clearing was a house trailer, in which they obviously lived. Next to the cookhouse was a small outdoor, but enclosed, shower stall and an outhouse. After checking in I was shown around by "Yvon", so that I could pick my site. There was a dirt trail that dropped down the precipitous cliff to the lakeshore. It would be lit with torches at night. Along the way down the cliffside were carved out a few flat campsites. I would have some difficult time coaxing my bike down the steep hill. The first campside chosen for me seemed from the lay of the land to be in the middle of a stream, should it rain. I went back up and exchanged it for a nearby one, quiet and secluded. From my site, as I set up my tent, I watched people swimming down by the small beach.

By 17:15 I was all set up, had showered, and was ready for my usual evening "rideabout". I asked Yvon if there were any restaurants nearby, but he said there were not. He offered to let me eat with his family for a small price, to which I agreed. I spend the 45 minutes walking down and exploring the small beach facility.

At 18:00, Yvon, his wife, his wife’s sister and mother from Germany, and his many kids all sit around the big picnic table outside. It was like the sort of big, country family dinner I could have expected been back in Antigo with my grandmother. We all have a great dinner, with lots of good conversation. I did my best to talk in German with the mother and the sister.


Click to enlarge
(Taken on 1998 Trip)
Camping at Lac des Ecorces
 

Yvon started a campfire around 19:30, and then offered me a beer, gratis. Someone brought out a guitar and there was singing. Many of the other “guests” at the campsite joined in as we toasted marshmallows.

It was 21:30 and already pretty dark when the mother invited us all into the family house for some “dancing”. We all piled into the living room. I was offered another beer. Yvon started things off dancing with his wife. Some of the girls started to dance among themselves. At first I hung by the wall and watched, but finally I danced one or two dances with the sister from Germany.

By 23:00, it is getting late. I take my leave, although the party was still going on. I found my way down the torch-lit trail to my own little cliffside loft, where I climbed into my tent and went right to sleep.

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