Saturday, October 2, 2010

Trip 3D ~ 200 kms

Home to search for a Restigouche River lookout/return (Oct. 2, 2010 ~200kms).

It's fall, the leaf colours are at peak, so what better way to enjoy it than a ride up the Restigouche River with the magnificent views?

Two years ago I found an awesome lookout at L'Ascension-de-Patapedia, and was blown away by the beauty. At that time, I noticed another sign for a lookout further upriver, but didn't have the time to visit. So, this was the day that I would check it out.

Heading out from home at 2:30pm, it was very cloudy, and a little cool at 48°F/9°C - a good transition into the final 8 wks of the riding season. Just before hitting the highway, I stop at the overpass to take a couple shots of the leaves.

Going up Hwy.11 towards Campbellton, I immediatley had plenty to appreciate with many colours adding to the great view of the river and mountains. Within 1/2 hour, I leave the highway and cut through the hills to Flatlands where it's time to take another pic and get an up close view of the river, as the smooth road winds it way along the banks....biker's heaven.

Before long, I'm crossing the bridge to Quebec after stopping 1/2 way to take a couple photos. Once I enter Matapedia, I decide to go through the town and cross the Maptapedia river at the first bridge. The next section of road is new pave again, but this time through the mountains, which means more twisties along with rising/falling elevations. It's beautiful through this road with the large round hay bales standing out in the vast green fields contrasting with the wild colours.

After passing through the largest small community of Saint-Francois-d'Assise, I find my way to the lookout area I visited in 2008. Although I have the GPS with me, it's not mounted conveniently, so I have it in the map pocket of the tank bag only for odd reference. I'm relying on the local lookout signs, so I follow the 2nd lookout sign turning right along Pin Rouge Rd.

After an hour of riding, I'm at an intersection which has a lookout sign pointing straight with 14kms marked. As soon as I cross the intersection, the road bends to the left, and is now dirt. After 2 kms, the dirt road has gotten worse, then I find myself ready to enter a farmer's field. This is obviously the wrong way, so I go back to the intersection with the sign, and notice 2 trucks coming out of a road that I never saw, since it dipped down out of sight.

After turning around and looking at the sign again, I go straight where the trucks exited. Another dirt road, and worse than the first. Before long, it's even worse - ruts, lots of jagged rock, and water. I should have a dirt bike on this road, but I press on with the VFR, and get some strange looks from the truckers.

This does not look like a road to a tourist lookout, but I continue - even though the road continues to get worse, narrower, and winding it's way up and
down mountains and along gorges with steep drops to creeks below. There's many forks in the road, and I wonder if I'm on the right one, but I continue to follow the main one marked with "1 Sud" signs. I considered turning around a couple times, but finally, after about 10kms, there at another fork in the road is a lookout sign that points straight. I should have another 4kms to go on this terrible horse-and-buggy route, but after passing 14, 15, 16, then 17kms, I'm in the middle of nowhere, and I give up. This is definitely not a road to a tourist spot! The road is so narrow, that it takes me a few back and ahead movements to get turned around.

After making my way back to the 10km sign, I decide to try the left fork in the road on the chance that the sign is just pointing wrong. After 2.5kms Camp Rambo sits at the end of the road with nowhere to go, so I give up again and turn around.

Once I'm back to the 10km sign, I look at it again in disbelief. No bloody way is there a lookout straight ahead! In frustration, I give up and slowly make my way back along the terrible roads to the intersection where I started, and have to triple check the sign.

Back on paved roads, I return to L'Ascension-de-Patapedia, and decide to revisit the lookout there. The last time I was here, I didn't check out the 2 obvious nearby lookouts due to other visitors, so that's what I do this visit. They are magnificent and tranquil on a normal day, but today with the fall colours, you have to visit yourself to understand the beauty!

Back on the bike, I return to Matapedia on the more northerly route, and the final leg out of the mountains is a 14% grade drop over 3kms. The temperature is down to 44°F/6°C, but as I get a view of Campbellton ahead, I see the sun is shining bright. After picking up some milk, I boogie back down Hwy.11 to home with the sun on my back, and an urge already to return to the mountains to find that damn lookout.