Chic Choc Mountains
Tomorrow I begin the final 1000 mile push towards my first winter bikepacking expedition. Using the new Salsa Mukluk, I will attempt to bike more than 500 miles using snow mobile routes and the back country trails found in the Chic Choc mountains. These mountains, located in north eastern Canada are a part of the Notre Dame mountains which themselves are a continuation of the Appalachian mountain range.
This year, especially this winter, has been warmer than ever creating what are sure to be unknown conditions for both the snow and ice pack. The beauty of this route is it offers me the opportunity to drop down to sea level and travel via the sandy beaches and frozen St. Lawrence River or cut across the mountains and valleys using the large network of snow mobile and cross country trails. Being my first extensive winter expedition, I did opt for a somewhat safer route, with multiple 'outs' should I find myself in over my head.
People I have spoken to all talk about this area, the Chic Choc mountains and the Gaspe Peninsula, as being one of the most beautiful places in North America. I believe it is going to be a trip that really stimulates all of my senses, allowing me to connect with Nature, challenge myself physically, learn a great deal about winter back country camping and biking, and finally connect with a new and interesting culture.
I will have one more post with my routes and gear list detailed before actually hitting the trails. I still have a few last minute decisions to make, with the choice of shelter being the biggest. At this point in time I am still planning on going with my normal winter Alp Kit bivy and and Tarp setup. The one addition I am toying with is adding a hammock back into the equation. I am a huge fan of hammock camping, and given the large amount of second growth forest in the mountains and the snow/ice/mud that is sure to be on the freezing and thawing ground, this may be a good option to carry with me. Temperature predictions are for lows in the teens and highs in the low to mid 30's, making hammock camping a possibly challenging endeavor.