Le Grand Brûlé

I am sitting in my new room at 1245 Main St West in a purple room on a floral blanket listening to the sound of a wall being erected.  How did I get from spotting chipmunks in the mountains to room in a dusty house opposite McMaster University?  Well it is quite the journey.

I am typing this without internet so I don’t know exactly where I left you last time… I believe it was after our first day in Tremblant.  So just to recap, Moose tour was amazing, made wonderful friends and was very sad to say goodbye.

We then spent the night in the Canadiana Backpackers Inn and left at 5.20am to drag our suitcases the 30min walk to the bus station.  6 hour bus ride later we were in Montreal and another 3.5 and we were in Mont Tremblant.

Mont Tremblant (pronounced “Mon Tremblon” for those Aussies reading at home) is a beautiful place with lots of lakes and trees in the Laurentian Mountains.  We spent some time in the canoe and managed to get through our free drinks (discovered some interesting house specials made with left over alcohol).  We checked out the ski village areas and went swimming.

The relaxing atmosphere was not without drama though.  Long distance calls and French-Canadian had Mark believe that we could catch a bus from Tremblant to Montreal at 7.20am, to easily make our connection, but it turned it there was no bus until 10.20am.  Thankfully we realised in time and were able to change our bus to a later one (with only a $1.50 fee, not too bad, will travel with Mega Bus again).  After all of that, we realised that we had booked an extra night accommodation in Mont Tremblant and so transport, Toronto hostel and moving in would be late.  Luckily, again, we cancelled that with no worries because we realised early enough.

walking up Mont Tremblant we saw these red mushrooms that some animals had eaten part of or knocked to give them white spots.

So on to some good stuff.  Mark and I hiked to top of Mont Tremblant.  We took our fancy on budget angel hair spaghetti with alfredo sauce and corn leftovers out of the fridge and made sandwiches on bread baked that morning.  We then put on our shoes and caught a bus (all in French) to the mountain.  It was really strange for me to see a ski hill in the summer.  I have always thought that driving the 6 hours to the Snowy Mountains in Australia was only worth it because of the white fluffy stuff you found when you got there.  Recently though, actually since we went spring skiing last year and I saw little bits of excited life poke through the white blanket that I was interested in mountains in summertime.  Where there would have been snow in the village there was instead flower baskets and fountains.  It was very pretty, even if some of the ski gear shops did look at bit lost in the heat.

One of the Aubergistes had recommended to us to go on walking track C, or as it is actually named “Le Grande Brûlé” (or “The Big Burn” in English).  We started up the track and we greeted by a beautiful waterfall that ran over rocks so smooth they looked plastic (they weren’t, I checked).

The cleared areas that would be ski runs in the winter were very pretty. Bonus was you didn't need to worry about deadly snakes in the long grass that would be a problem in Australia in late Summer

We saw some amazing views and slipped in some squelchy mud.  Mark and I stopped at a lookout area and ate the first of our spaghetti sandwiches.  One thing I love about this hike was that there were no fences.  The lookout of was an area of a few rocks and if you were stupid enough to fall off the edge – you got hurt.  From the spot we could see out over so many mountains that were all covered with trees.  Little (well, little by North American standards) villages were nestled in the mountains and painted in bright colours.  While we were looking out over the world and finishing our spaghetti sandwiches a little chipmunk came to see what was going on.  I didn’t see him at first but then his little twitching nose and ears caught my eye.  We were probably about 1.5m away for the little fella.  I thought he was going to run away before I could get my camera, but he just posed patiently while I took some pictures.  From this I learnt that chipmunks are incredibly cute.

after a long time going uphill we were a little confused when the gradient declined before we reached the top... but were happy with this beautiful lake as an answer

Anyway, we continued up Le Grande Brûlé and saw more beautiful views and waterfalls.  As we neared the summit we started walking on ski runs.  They looked like decent runs, mainly steep and tree-lined, but there was some variation.  The vast majority of runs on Tremblant seem to be black diamond, just like their hiking trails.  I think they must get a reasonable amount of snow as the markers from the runs were about 3m off the ground!  When we had nearly reached the top we found a sign that told us we were in bear country… we didn’t really realise that but it was all good.

would have been good to see this sign BEFORE we reached the end of our hike

It took us about 3 hours to reach the top and once we were up there we saw a pretty extensive view of all the surrounding mountains and towns.  The trees are beautiful, they all look like Christmas trees and the whole mountain smelt Christmassy.

had lots of fun with the panorama setting... if you can't take panoramic photos from a 360 degree lookout, then where can you?

After looking around for a while we opted for an easier way down the mountain.  Considering it hadn’t snowed in the time it took us to hike up and so skiing wasn’t an option we took the gondola.  The 3 hours up was covered by 10 minutes down and we got to see some of those pretty views again.

exhausted after a big hike but re-energised with the view

Back in the village Mark convinced me that we deserved a serving of poutine.  If you haven’t already read Mark’s blog and got a graphic description I shall fill you in now.  Poutine is a Quebec invention of chips/fries (ideally hand cut) swimming in gravy and covered in cheese curds (a very young cheese similar to mozzarella).   It’s pretty over the top unhealthy-wise, but after a hike like ours it seems earned.  I was excited because we found a Poutinerie that served a vegetarian version which had gravy made from lentils as opposed to meat.  So I found a comfy chair, tried to mentally prepare and then this came out:

I ate most of it.  I like the cheese… but seriously, it’s just too much!  Mark got a Hamburger poutine (so add beef and bacon to the regular calorie fest) and was nearly comatose after.  You might think that we had eaten enough, but we finished off that mega-meal with a maple butter soft serve ice-cream covered in maple taffee.  Now that was a good choice!

To make ourselves feel a bit better we walked home from the mountain to our youth hostel.  It was about an hour-long walk and we managed to see another chipmunk and several squirrels.  It was a really beautiful walk through maple trees.  When we had been going for about 40 minutes we heard a river and so went exploring in the trees and found….

That's right, a river! with rapids no less.

Very cool rapids… made me really want to go white water rafting.  It was probably the opposite problem to the chip:gravy ration in poutine though, too many rocks and not enough water.

and so the season is changing. My body is ready for spring... but the leaves are sensing Autumn

So after more exploration we found our hostel and crashed.  The hostel had been flooded with high school girls who were on some kind of camp, so getting a shower was a tad difficult but quite funny.

The next morning we backed up our suitcases and lugged those enormous bags, of what seems like not enough clothes when open but a large mall when closed, to the bus stop.  It was there that we got on a bus to a bus stop where we could then catch another bus to an even bigger bus stop to catch a bus to Toronto where we would spend the night before finally catching another bus to Hamilton… where we could finally stop.

The ride was good but long.  We met an interesting lady who was born up in northern Quebec and found the fact that we were Australian very interesting.  When we got to the Montreal terminal we had 3 hours to kill.  Our bags were too big for lockers so we lugged them outside thinking we should find some lunch.  Unfortunately nowhere seems quite right for lunch when you are carrying a 28kg suitcase and intercepting some kind of gay pride parade.  We’re not quite sure what the people we doing but the men were dressed up in women’s underwear and other things…

So we caught that bus that took 6 hours and spent the night in Toronto.  The next day we went to Hamilton to see our house and uni, but that’s a story for my next blog.


3 thoughts on “Le Grand Brûlé”

  1. The chipmunk encounter was awesome! lol my writing style is based on suspense created by me being excited about something that just happened, but being too behind in my blog to get to it before I am too tired to finish 😛 We are eating healthilty actually, I just didn’t take a photo of my awesome salad pita bread or the broccoli and carrots we are having for dinner two nights running 😛
    And James, yes 🙂 having a great time! Thanks for reading my blog.

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