Monday, April 28, 2014

Parc national du Mont-Tremblant

Sandwiched between a Toledo family visit and a wedding in New York, we spent two nights in Canada. Because, why wouldn't we? We wanted to stay in a national park type place as opposed to a city, so we chose Parc national du Mont-Tremblant*, north of Montréal.

(* - That's how they capitalize it, with a lowercase 'national'. Perhaps that's because it's not really a 'national' park; it's operated by Parcs Québec rather than Parks Canada. Québec likes doing its own thing.)

From reading the park documentation, there are three main reasons to visit the park:
- It's summer, and you like hiking / canoeing / the usual types of outdoor activities that one would do in a national park in the summer.
- It's winter, and you like cross-country skiing / snowshoeing / some other kind of winter sport. (There's also a nearby ski resort, unaffiliated with the park we went to, if you're more into downhill skiing.)
- It's early fall, and you like fall foliage. (Note: early fall. Mid-October? Too late!)

What the documentation does not say is this: "In late April, there will still be a healthy amount of snow cover, so unless you don't mind wading through several inches of snow, you won't be able to hike. At the same time, enough snow will have melted by then so that you can't really ski, either. Fact is, nobody visits this place in April. You'll have the park to ourselves."

So, hooray! We had the park to ourselves! During our one day / two night stay, we saw a total of four other non-employees in the entire park. And we had a nice heated cabin, too:

The views from the porch of our cabin rivaled those from our cabin in Vermont, except that Vermont was in the fall and this was in spring, of course. But spring has plenty to offer, too; it's just that the beauty isn't as obvious. Personally, I'm fascinated by the physics of snow melt, and lakes and rivers freezing over and then melting again. We had a front-row seat for the breakup of ice on the lake. Check out how much ice melted in one day: (As always, the pictures don't do it justice. I thought there was a pretty big difference for just one day.)

By the way, the weather that day was: sunny, low around 30°F, high in the upper 40s. For this part of Canada in this time of year, that's perfect! It snowed the week before, and a cold rain is in the forecast this week.

Rapid snow melt also meant the rivers and streams were roaring. Fun! You don't see that sort of thing in summer or fall. The lakes were also quite full: (Notice the half-underwater picnic table.)

There are some gorges or waterfalls or something deeper in the park, and those would have been incredible to see given the overflowing nature of the rivers and streams. If only they had plowed the road which led to those places...

So, yeah, there were plenty of trails in which we couldn't really hike. Marla really, really wanted to go down this trail. She loved walking on the snow.

There were some mostly clear trails that we could "hike", though. Really, it wasn't a big deal that we didn't have a whole lot of places to go in the park; not like Marla can really do much in the way of "hiking" anyway. And, we were only here for one full day. I don't know if we could have spent a second day in the park. We pretty much saw all we could see in just that one day.

Perhaps we'll come back another year in the middle of summer - you know, when normal people visit these places - and get to see more of the park. April isn't really a good time to visit, unless you either a) really like solitude, or b) are just weird. We're a little of both.

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