Monday, November 4, 2019

Edmundston, NB to Degelis, QC

As we headed out into Saint Basile, which is a suburb of Edmundston, the frost was lying thick on the roofs, and for the first time on our hike this year the puddles were frozen solid. We felt a definite bite in our finger tips this morning.



One of our first stops was at the parish cemetery on Rue Principale. There we found a monument listing the names of the first Acadian families who settled in this area. The first French colony in Madawaska dates back to 1785, giving Saint Basile the designation of the 'cradle of Madawaska.'

 

The oldest house in Saint-Basile is the Cyr Historical House, which was built in 1810. It was located in a beautiful park beside the Saint-Basile arena. The Site Marial honored the Acadian history of the region, and included an alter, and about 300 steps leading up to a cross atop a hill. We climbed the steps, enjoyed the view of the river valley from the top, learned a bit about the history of the region, and logged our first geocache for New Brunswick.

 
 
 
 

Next the Great Trail took us past the Hôtel-Dieu Saint-Joseph Provincial Historic Site. This hotel was built in 1885, and was the first brick building in Madawaska. It was designed by François-Xavier Berlinguet, sculptor, civil engineer, and architect from Quebec City. The building commemorates the significant contribution of the Congregation of the Religious Hospitallers of Saint-Joseph, who arrived in Saint-Basile in 1873, founded the first hospital, and established a French teaching institution.



After leaving Saint-Basile we walked through some construction, and then found ourselves walking along a nice trail through a Maliseet First Nation Reserve. The trail began with an interpretive sign describing the biodiversity along the Madawaska River in three languages, and a lovely insect hotel.
 

 

When we arrived in Edmundston we passed a restored train station and a railway carriage. We then descended into the town to find a nicely landscaped waterfront, with a park and a beautiful double-arched walking bridge. We explored the park, and then we stepped into Tim Hortons for a coffee. We were impressed to discover that Tim Hortons here offers china, and most people opt to use it instead of the disposable cups and bags. We've noticed there is a LOT less garbage along the road and tail sides here too.

 
 


As we continued around the park we found ourselves on a beautiful paved bike path-the Petit Témis. It followed the river, on the other side of which was a very large and odoriferous pulp and paper mill. We've noticed in New Brunswick that industry is frequently mixed in with residential, business, and tourist areas. Although at first I found it somewhat disturbing to see large factories and pulp mills right beside tourist attractions and in the middle of city skylines, I have come to believe that maybe it is better to keep industry in our sight lines rather than hiding it away and trying to pretend it doesn't exist. A desire to clean up the processes we use and make them more sustainable will not arise if we stop seeing the problems. 

 
 


The trail took us up into the woods, through a golf course, and across a train track. It felt so incredibly good to be back off the roads and in nature again! It was like our whole beings relaxed and breathed a sigh of relief. We were delighted to find almost immediately that the Petit Témis has covered picnic tables, garbage cans, bike racks, and even outhouses every few kilometres. These simple amenities are very much appreciated, and improve the hiking experience immeasurably!
 
 

We followed the trail through a treed corridor along the wide and fast flowing river. On the opposite shore were camp grounds, small communities, and treed hills lit by the afternoon sun. We walked through several small communities until we came to Saint Jaques. There we stepped off the trail for another coffee and a short break. In the main street we came across a very intriguing and creative living green gnome.


 

We continued to follow beside the Madawaska river on the lovely trail until we came to the Edmundston airport. This was a very small airport - not much more than a field with a windsock. Shortly after passing the airport we came to an archway informing us we were entering Quebec. We made it to our fifth province, and we did it before the snow arrived!!!
 
 

Although we got a huge energy boost from making it to the border, our second wind didn't last as long as it could have. We crossed at 3:37 pm New Brunswick time, and then went through our second time change in as many days. Three days ago it was still light until around 6:30 pm. Somehow we failed to anticipate that with two time changes it would now be dark at 4:30 pm.


 

The first few kilometres of the trail took us through a corridor of cedars. As we walked, a red fox darted out onto the trail, paused for a moment, and then disappeared into the bushes. Moose prints and deer prints marked the crushed stone dust trailbed. 

 

As the light began to fade we passed several ponds and rivers which offered near perfect reflections of the surrounding trees. A group of Mallards erupted out of one of these little ponds as we passed.


The sun set behind the surrounding foothills of the Appalachians, the sky turned to pink, and then began to darken. As the light faded the stars came out and the half-moon shone behind us in the sky. As twilight turned to night the big dipper shone bright in front of us.

 
 

In the end we walked 15 km in complete darkness, making our total distance walked today 45.5 km. This is a lot for us. We end the day tired, sore, but happy with our achievement. We go to sleep in the fifth province on our #hike4birds!

 

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