There and back again, a hobbit’s tale – Or the end of sentier des crêtes.
Regardless of Cedric’s heavy capillary endowments and large appetite, this was truly the most challenging hike yet. We were faced with a hard uphill journey for the initial part, but the views really were the best yet, allowing me to postulate that there is a proportional relationship between physical effort and quality of the views from the top… So without further ado, here’s our review of the last part in this trilogy.
First, you need to know this: if you begin this stretch of the hike from Orford’s parking lot, you’ll need to ask someone for assistance because there are no signs leading you to where you need to go*. After finding our way to the foot of the correct ski slope (thanks to a helpful grounds keeper) we began the long journey to the top. Please note that this is not a gradual climb to the top. There is no serpentine trail heading progressively to your goal. This is straight upwards, all the way to the top. The only real plateau was halfway up and had a collection of picnic tables. That was it for an organized rest area on the way to the top. Needless to say, a fair number of trees were painted yellow on this hike.
Essentially, you are looking at over 500 meters of elevation over a fairly short run. As you progress through untended brush (the slope we travelled had not been mowed since the previous fall), you only need to turn around to see progressively more impressive vistas and views of the eastern townships. Near the end of this trail, you will finally see a sign indicating that the sentier des crêtes starts here. We suggest you hold that though and finish Orford first.
What you’ll see at the top is some of the best views of the eastern townships that we had observed to date. It was well worth the strain. Especially getting a picture of Cedric doing a most excellent duck face. Good news: the top of orford has both bathrooms and garbage cans! Unfortunately, it also has chairlifts. This meant that we were not surrounded by fellow travelers but mostly by tourist. Still, they were nice (looking).
The man himself, doing the best high elevation duck face in history.
After wasting some time up there taking pictures and filming and attending other biological imperatives, we made our way back down to the wooded entrance of Sentier des crêtes; trading butterflies for horseflies in the process. The hike was even more technical then on the first stretch of this trail. Indeed, what it was lacking in climbing it made up for in tight spaces, rocky outcrops and difficult terrain. The vistas were beautiful: some mossy areas looked untouched by man. There were regular breaks in the dense tree cover through which we could see the impossible-seeming hill we had just climbed up and down. Later on, we had breath taking views of the surrounding region, seeing Sutton and other nearby hills.
We never actually made it back to pic de l’ours. Family obligations forced us to leave earlier. We estimate we were a full kilometer away when we stopped off for lunch. Once again, a hot meal was on the menu. A passing hiker actually wished us bon appétit. After a short hammock break on the side of the trail, we made our way back down to the parking lot.
Overall, this was an exceptional day and an awesome adventure. Our friendly oversized hobbit says we should make this a yearly event. I tend to agree. Although the hike was difficult at times, it was well worth the effort. This pretty much ended our summer hike series. Next time, we will regail you with stories from mont st-hilaire and a camping trip in the lanaudière region of Québec. Stay tuned, dear readers for merriment and more copy-infringing jokes!
*Since you’re asking nicely, just go to the furthest slope on the right. You’re welcome.