Part 4: I meet a human, but can’t hike with them

Dear people, readers of mine bloggen,

Every time I get grumpy, I burn my bread. It partially happened again, today. It’s like training a puppy, except it’s the universe training my face


Because you are angry, self, at things that won’t matter. Save your energy for more important stuff. Like… bacon. And keeping an eye on your bread. Here’s part three of the story.


[ARGH I just burned the bottom of my soup]

* * *

Two weeks ago; imagine me. Hunkered down in a shelter, drying my boots next to a wood stove that the IAT Quebec didn’t know I was using. I was a few hours from the last village, and about 24 miles to the next one, through a couple of pretty steep river gorges and over some exposed hilltops, with around 4-6 ft of snow on a mostly invisible trail that I have been getting better at finding.

Depending on weather, this can mean anywhere from 1 1/2 days (I wish) to 4 or 5 days of real slogging. Nice thing about mooses; where they go I can go, and where they climb, I can climb. If I can’t find any new moose tracks for my late season river crossings, there’s one snowmobile bridge a good ways upriver, and that would be my detour… and it’s on snowmobile trails, which are other humans’ gift to me… so probably I’m carrying double the food I need.

I was thinking about this as I ate breakfast, and slightly regretting the loss of my hiker friend for the next few days.


It had been the second day of a nor’easter. We had gone out the first day, looked at the snowfall, and decided not to head into the backcountry in the middle of a storm. Instead, we went back into the shelter and made soup, like vaguely intelligent human beings. It was a dark and stormy night, and the wind picked up around 3am, roaring over the hilltops.

The next morning, the snow had tapered off, and ground conditions were awful slippy- about 8 to 10 inches of new snow over a solid frozen crust. You sink deep with every step, and then sliiiiide, and the snow won’t stop you. Nice for rocket sledding and avalanches. Not so great for hiking along really steep ravines, above potentially melting rivers, heading through unbroken trail into more remote country. And, though we were waiting out the storm in a sheltered valley, you could hear the wind ripping across the ridgelines above us in 55mph gusts. Nope. Not gonna. No flippin’ way. We turned from our testing, pretty frustrated, and headed back into the shelter.

Now, this guy I was with has a few thousand miles under his belt. He’s hiked (and hitchhiked) all over the US, outdoors, in all seasons, and spent a few years travelling and working in other countries. He’s late twenties, maybe early thirties, and probably if you dropped him into an unidentified gully in the middle of the Quebec mountains, he’d navigate his way out, and then possibly hunt you down. Useful dude to have around. Good at wood splitting.

Unfortunately, I can’t hike with him for two reasons:


While we were sliding back to the shelter, he stopped and pulled out his phone to check the weather. He turned it on… and it rang, showing up as an unknown number. He picked up, “Hello? ….What? No. I’m fine. ….Near the shelter… Am I going to fight them??” After he hung up, he turned to me. “That was the Canadian police.” They had been notified that morning that he was a missing person, and were sending out two people on snowmobiles to remove him from the trails, for being a danger to himself, and the people who would need to come out and rescue him. They had also politely informed him that if he didn’t go peacefully, he would be forcibly removed. It was for his own good.

Bummer, dude.

The snowmobilers roared up as he was listening to the array of worried and angry messages that had been left on his phone, but they were from the last village, where he had spent some time, and were chill. “Hey! You’re ok! It’s nice here; the wind is terrible in the village. Want a ride back?” They were fine with him walking himself out.

From what I heard later, an experienced hiker with whom he was acquainted with had hiked that section of trail in the past, and knows how bad the trail is without snow. After seeing the pictures he took of the trail under snow, this guy had awful presentiments of him being dead under river ice, called up the folks who run the trail… and it snowballed from there, with “what we didn’t even know he’s on trail,” and the next morning, “call out the police.” Good thing he was somewhere with service because of the storm, and checked his phone for the weather, so instead of starting an international incident, he was just banned from the trails for his own safety.


I also can’t hike with him because he doesn’t exist, and that is actually me.



After sorting through the morass of emails and messages, I have been graciously permitted to be on the IAT again by the folks in Quebec (it’s closed for winter, remember). They even offered more understanding by saying things like, “write en yer blogg, ye indigent hiker, an we’ll talk about waiving yer trail fees.”


For now, though, I am tired. I meet new people every day. I didn’t want to need to be more competent-looking for you humans. Look at this fluffy snow:



So. I am hiding. These mountains are great. Quebec is nice. My French is terrible. Here’s a glass of maple syrup Jaqueline and her husband (one of the snowmobilers) gave me to drown my sorrows in while I was walking by their house that afternoon.


Then, they said things like, “Well… do you still want to be in the mountains?” and after I said yes, please, they dropped me off in objectively far more dangerous terrain than I had been removed from.


…Which is really all anyone could ask for. I’ve changed my “About” page for you all. Talk to you sometime.

Here’s another rock, from the Gulf of St. Lawrence.



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