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Saturday, September 8, 2018

Entering the Canyon of the Gates of Hell!

A rough sea rock hike.  A long lakeshore bike ride.  We needed a less intense outdoor day.  So we decided to go explore Le Canyon des Portes de l'Enfer (the Canyon of the Gates of Hell), not far from our campground here in the Bas St. Laurent region of the Gaspé.

The site includes several dramatic waterfalls on the Rimouski River and an equally dramatic suspension bridge stretching nearly 100 feet above the river.  We could picture ourselves out on that high suspension bridge!

The Rimouski River flows over ancient sedimentary shale that dates back as much as 500 million years.  Most of these rock formations are part of the most ancient Appalachian Mountain formations that stretch from deep in the southeast United States, up through the Canadian Maritime provinces, and arcing around into the isles of Great Britain.

The shale layers are evident where the water flows over them:

The problem is, that the layers are oriented vertically, when they were originally laid down horizontally on the bed of some great lake or ocean.

So the layers must have been tilted upward as part of the formation of the Appalachians, and then whittled down by glaciers and other erosion forces, so that, now, water flows across them and down into the St. Lawrence River.  The Rimouski River is historically one of the great salmon rivers, but it suffers from the same overfishing that all Maritime Canadian salmon rivers suffer from.  While data on the Rimouski River is not available, public reports indicate that on the entire Matapedia River, here in the Gaspe, perhaps the most renowned Atlantic Salmon river fishery in the Gaspe, only THIRTY salmon we caught (then released) in the entire 2018 season.  That makes us doubt the poor Rimouski River saw many salmon.

Here is a view of the river from upstream as it tumbles down the Chute Grand Saulte (Grand Saulte Falls):

And here's one of the falls from downstream:

And if that's not enough to give you an idea of the falls' power, here is a video of the Chute Grand Sault in action.

After admiring the falls, we worked our way down to the river just beyond the great pool into which the falls fell, and we were surprised to find that it was a grand field of INUKSUKS!  Here are our favorites:

Having satisfied our curiosity about rivers, waterfalls and inuksuks, we headed further out toward the Passerelle suspension bridge.  Our path took us past an old beaver pond (sadly, without beaver - we spotted the collapsed remains of the old beaver lodge):

Along the way, we caught sight of the bridge as it spanned the river:

Hiking further, we reached the bridge, which presented itself as a formidable structure in itself:

The view from the bridge was awesome:

Heading onward from the bridge, we continued on the trail toward the Descent Aux Enfer (the Descent Into Hell), which required navigating 300 steps down -- and, of course, 300 steps up.  Kathy caught sight of David some levels lower on the endless stairs --

-- and then we got an appreciation of the length of the stairs as they descended steeply toward the river:

We reached the canyon bottom, looked up and, amazingly, caught sight of that suspension bridge we had previously crossed, a mere 200 feet above us!

We won't bore you with the return, which of course involved climbing over 300 steps upward (not as easy as descending them).  We got back to our trailhead, hopped in the Jeep, and found a local cafe to gorge ourselves on chicken nuggets, french fries and poutine, because our hikes pushed us well past lunchtime.  We got home in time for our normal Baxter Hour routine.

Now it's time for dinner, so...Cheers!

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