The Bounty Up North

Reserve Faunique des Chic-Chocs, Jacquet River Gorge, Bonaventure River, & Gros Morne Park

Bon View: New Brunswick's Gaspé Peninsula     Photo: Corel

New Park
Réserve Faunique des Chic-Chocs
Quebec

The 3,000-foot Chic-Chocs are more than just fun to say: They're some of eastern Canada's highest mountains. Spot moose and other megafauna or fish for trout in this 278,982-acre reserve. —P. V.

DETAILS: 800-665-6527, www.sepaq.com

New Park
Jacquet River Gorge Protected Natural Area
New Brunswick

The Jacquet River cuts a 200-foot-deep ravine through the hills close to New Brunswick's northeastern coast. Access salmon-filled streams and Jacquet River whitewater from wilderness campsites in the 64,312-acre park. —P. V.

DETAILS: www.gnb.ca/0399/index-e.asp

Canoeing
Bonaventure River
New Brunswick

"Ah, tabernac," I swore, as my boat pinballed its way down the snaky headwaters of the Bonaventure River at the end of Quebec's Gaspé Peninsula. It had been less than an hour since the put-in, and already I was ricocheting off rocks and spinning 360s in my solo canoe. "Tricky little devil, eh?" said Claude, one of the two French-Canadian brothers who were my guides. "Look there," he said, pointing. "An eagle."

Sure enough, a bald eagle with a wingspan the length of my paddle was glaring at me from a stump. I swear the bird cackled when, in the nanosecond I took my eyes off the river to watch it take flight, I was whipped over the gunwales. The next thing I knew, I was bobbing boatless through Class III froth. They don't call it the Bonaventure, or "Good Adventure," for nothing.

In the six days it took to paddle 76 miles to Chaleur Bay, we passed 12 other humans: seven fishermen and five paddlers. The Bonaventure's eerie timelessness makes you half expect to see tepee settlements from 16th-century Micmac Indians lining the shore.

The river lacks the things that can turn canoe trips into heinous nightmares: mosquitoes, portages, and hypothermic weather. But it still proffers enough of the raw elements—icy whitewater, old-growth forests, and guides who stand up in their boats while navigating the fray.

Other than my clumsy canoe exit, the only catastrophe was losing four bottles of chilling chardonnay to the swift current. The loss would have put a dent in cocktail hour, but Ulysse, the other brother, pulled out a bottle of cognac left over from the chocolate flambé he'd prepared earlier. "You gotta have that French taste on this of all rivers," he said, winking.—Stephanie Pearson

DETAILS: Quebec Adventures (888-678-3232, www.quebecadv.com) runs six-day canoe trips on the Bonaventure from May to early July for $995 per person.

Hiking
Gros Morne National Park
Newfoundland

We had set up camp at dusk and gone in search of water when both of our flashlights went dead. Anywhere else, this would have been a mundane incident, but we were in western Newfoundland, where the spruce forest blotted out the remaining light like death itself. Our situation felt forbidding. It felt Arctic.

Forbidding had not been part of the plan. My boyfriend and I had come to 697-square-mile Gros Morne National Park strictly to relax, spending four days toodling around the slopes of Gros Morne, Newfoundland's second-highest peak. After we'd stumbled around through the dark for less than an hour, a man carrying a flashlight, a cooler, and an umbrella came whistling toward us. He gave us his spare batteries and then disappeared into the night.

The next day, we continued into the waist-high mosaic of springy conifers. The place was strung with lakes. Lakes fringed with raspberry and blueberry bushes. Lakes with moose thrashing and bellowing in the shallows. Lakes with woodland caribou grazing quietly on the shore.

We climbed the rocky, well-marked Gros Morne Mountain Trail toward the shoulder of 2,644-foot Gros Morne, pausing when an arctic hare the size of a terrier hurtled toward me. Clearing the shoulder, we saw the park's famous Long Range: green-topped plateaus edged by cliffs that plunge 2,000 feet into freshwater fjords.

While the rest of the Long Range is gray granite and gneiss, Gros Morne is rose-colored quartzite. The light was pink and ancient; the cairns marking the trail looked like early Christian crosses. We crunched slowly across the rock, as awed and quiet as monks.—Lisa Jones

DETAILS: Gros Morne Adventures (800-685-4624, www.grosmorneadventures.com) runs hiking and sea-kayaking trips in Gros Morne National Park (709-458-2066, www.parkscanada.gc.ca/grosmorne).

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