19 September 2017

"To die would be an awfully big adventure!"

Or actually, not! At least not according to Mary Michelle.

She prefers the "To live would be an awfully big adventure" version of that quote.

But she is, without a doubt in my mind, one of the toughest little eight-year-olds I know.

Last Saturday, a few of us (Tim, Richelle, Anna, and M&M) decided we wanted to take advantage of our about-to-expire yearly membership to Parks Quebec - which gives our family all the access we could want to the Jacques Cartier National Park.

Early afternoon, we left home for our first adventure in our Matrix (the Toyota kind... no pill swallowing involved!), en route to the Jacques.

Mountains in the distance as we head towards the park.

Another mountain, names for "Les frères Wright" - thus why we want to climb this one too... someday!
Looking for a decent workout, we decided to give one of the difficult trails a try. Anna has been begging us for over three years now to hike to the summit of one of the mountains in the park. We knew it might be a challenge for M&M, but considering we were three more-or-less adults, we figured we could get her up there. And, if the trail proved too difficult, I'd turn around with the half-pint and we'd let Tim and Anna scale the heights. 
  • 6.8 kilometers, one way
  • two primary overlooks
  • the gal at the Discovery Center's words: "If you make the first overlook, keep on going. It is much easier than the first part of the trail."
  • 4:30 in the afternoon
  • 3 large water bottles
  • 4 Kit Kat bars ("For a bit of trail nourishment," says Tim as he purchases the candy.)
We started up the trail. 

I'm telling you, don't mess with this kid!

This was pretty typical of the rockiness of the trail.

KitKat break

Cooling off

Obligatory "Pride Rock" pose, without a Simba, so the water bottle stood in.

It was steep, there were lots of rocks and roots, but we reached the first overlook by 5:30 in the afternoon.

Then, we decided to continue on. After all, that was what the lady had told us. Bad life decision, but more on that later.

The remainder of the trail wasn't as steep, although there were some trickier rocky places to negotiate, especially for our half-pint. 

We knew we were close here!

We could see all the way back down to the Discovery Center!

Taking in the view.

Anna and I arrived about 5 minutes before Tim and M&M.


No time to rest. It was just after 6 pm, and we had a lot of kilometers to cover before dark.

We didn't make it. Even though the upper part of the trail was less steep and physically demanding, the rocks and trail condition made it tricky and it took us as long to get down that part as it had climbing up. On top of that, M&M's shoes were too small - she hadn't mentioned it and I hadn't thought to check prior to leaving the house. Walking down meant her toes were slamming into the end of her shoes every step, and it hurt. (I think she's going to lose a couple of toenails as a result.) By 7:15, it was getting really hard to see, and Tim turned his cell phone flashlight on. Unfortunately, the battery died within 10 minutes.

We still had over 2 km to go before we'd be back to the parking lot, and it was the hardest, steepest parts of the trail with lots of crevices running across the path, sharp turns, and small rock steps that were about half M&M's height. Speaking of her, she was terrified of the prospect of animals. 

At about this point, we tried to see if we could phone the park rangers and ask someone to bring us a legit flashlight. That was when we discovered that the paper with the number had been left in the car (but the Kit Kats made it!). Even worse, we had no phone service even though we had been able to make a call just a little bit higher up the mountain. 

Anna took the lead. I held/helped/lifted/carried M&M. Tim held my phone with just the LED light up so that we could see... a tiny bit. And little by little, we worked our way down the mountain, in the dark. Anna sang silly songs (she's good at that). Here's our favorite, sung to the tune of Veggie Tales' "Keep Walking," with slightly modified lyrics. 

Keep walking! Better watch out for that rock!
Keep walking! Will this trail ever stop!
It's plain to see that our brains are very small
To go walking down a mountain in the dark!

Amazingly (God is very gracious to us, often in the midst of our stupidity), my phone was at 57% battery when we started using it. When we finally reached the parking lot and our car, it was at 51%. Before we'd driven the 16 km to exit the park, it had crashed to 35%. We saw and heard no animals. No one was seriously hurt... just a few stubbed toes, M&M's poor toenails, a twisted ankle and very sore muscles.

Lessons learned/a few observations made:
  1. Always bring a flashlight with fresh batteries when you go hiking, regardless.
  2. Matches and a flare gun might not be a bad idea either.
  3. Make sure someone knows what trail you are hiking.
  4. Realistically assess the situation and don't depend on the information of young gals standing behind desks. In other words, use common sense.
  5. All of those Bible verses about blind leading the blind took were much more powerful.
  6. The brightness of an LED light reflected off a white metallic trail marker is astonishing.
  7. Going down can be much more work than going up.
  8. There are strength and security in numbers - I'm so glad we were four and not just one or two.
  9. What was scary to me wasn't necessarily scary to others. M&M was terrified of the prospect of animals. Tim was afraid the battery would die on my phone. I was afraid for our kids back home if we would have had to find a place to stay the night because, without the LED light, it would have been impossible to continue down the mountain without serious injury. Anna was afraid she'd run out of songs to sing.
Perhaps the most striking observation... which, interestingly, was more or less echoed the next day at church in one of our discussion groups: When we are surrounded by profound darkness, even the dimmest of lights has great potential to illuminate, encourage and be even more brightly reflected.

Once we reached the parking lot, we found three tracks shoved under the windshield wipers of our car - a clear reminder that while Quebec may seem a spiritually dark place, God's light is present and is making a difference.

1 comment:

  1. wow, way to go guys, but I am a bit worried coming to see you all! just kidding...looking forward to seeing you soon.


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