Recently, I went bushwhacking. Over ten years ago, long before the four lane commuter expressway punched its way through Gatineau Park, a trail wound from boulevard Raymond, crossed a sandy tableland, then passed half a mile thorough dark woods, before it emerged in daylight, bridged a small creek, and connected with the major north-south cycle path.

First explored when bike commuting to a Gargantua facility located near the border with Chelsea, the trail was almost forgotten. The western trail-head was obliterated when the four lane highway was constructed. This week, I stumbled across the eastern terminus. Disturbed ground showed where the trail pavement had been removed with the bare gravels left fallow. Following this track of disturbed earth led to the creek crossing. The bridge abutment remained in place but of the bridge itself there was no evidence.

It was a nice day. I decided to go bushwhacking, to see if I could trace the line of the original trail west through the forest overgrowth to boulevard Raymond. In order to cross the swollen creek, I hiked upstream. The wide creek at the old bridge was the confluence of three separate streams. The first rivulet was crossed without problem by scooting across a dead-fall. The second stream had a reduced flow. It too was easy to cross but the third creek was a rushing torrent tumbling down between deep pools in a boulder strewn canyon.

I kept moving upstream in search of a crossing point. The canyon contained a remarkable collection of old car tires, battered patio furniture, bits of clothing, and similar detritus. It was more than a half mile to the nearest roadway. There was a steep forested ridge and two deep stream beds standing like moats between my position and the distant road. No one lazy enough to dispose of household belongings inside the park would hike a half mile up and down through thick brush and cross two wild creek beds just to dump old car tires. It was more likely the household discards had been flushed downstream by the force of the rushing spring melt water freshet, the same heavy flow of water I was now attempting to safely cross.

To be continued . . .