Under the Giant Rocks

I recently took a university group north of the city to the Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier. If you haven’t been there, you’re in for a treat! The park is a vast expanse of boreal forest managed by the provincial park service and enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. It is less than an hour from Old Québec, but it feels much further than that. Once you are north of the welcome center, your cellphone is useless, and you have no choice but to abandon yourself to the nature that surrounds you. The central axis of the park is the Jacques-Cartier River which runs with purpose to the south toward the St. Lawrence River. The valley walls on either side of the river rise half a kilometer in the air, giving all passers-by the impression that they are but a microscopic part of the local fauna.

Our occupation for the afternoon was an outing called Sous les roches géantes: Under the Giant Rocks. It was, in essence, an above-ground spelunking expedition. Over the eons, the forces of geology have broken giant boulders off the escarpment that hangs over the river. In one part of the valley in particular, those boulders – some the size of houses – have created a haphazard pile of rocks that is riddled with cracks and crevices big enough for human beings to pass through. Guided by park rangers, we shimmied and twisted and strained as necessary to get through the labyrinth of rocky corridors. In places, the boulders have come together so completely that no light shines the way. Only the calming words of the guide – “left hand on the rock, right hand in front of you” – allowed us to find our way forward, trusting that the sun would be on the other side. The students and I enjoyed the experience thoroughly.

15 thoughts on “Under the Giant Rocks”

  1. Marc Bergeron

    Hum! Cool!! I never heard about that Neil! I’ll have to find time to visit this special trail… Thanks to have shared with all of us!
    Have a nice summer! 🙂

  2. Very interesting site to discover this summer and it’ s guided. Thank you for sharing this adventure.

  3. Denis Laberge

    Hi Neil,
    It’s fun you talk about our national parks as we have many all over the Province of Quebec territory and they all have something amazing to present and visit. The Parc de la Jacques-Cartier, that I attend for more than 45 years, is effectively quite spectacular and, during summer, the river is among other things the playground of many canoe and kayak lovers. Try to book a chalet with your little family during the next fall season (if they still have one available !!), I’m sure you’ll adore your experience in our wild and so beautiful nature…

  4. Wow! What a great hike! Thank you for sharing with us another great thing to do not far from Quebec City.

  5. Gary and Mary Baugh

    Interesting but I’m a bit too old for rock climbing and exploring. Hope you were able to enjoy March Maddness with the Jayhawks winning the National Championship. Rock Chalk!!

  6. What a delightful adventure! I think I would have wanted a head lamp to supplement the guide’s directions.

  7. Hello Neil! You describe it so well, I almost have the impression of being there! Although I’m sure my heart would be pounding a little stronger on site..sounds like fun

  8. Millicent Broderick

    Taking a guided nature walk here in Eastern Massachusetts I was told that the large boulders in this forest we were exploring were pushed down from Canada during the Ice Age. All is related.

    1. Merci pour ce reportage de sortie au Parc de la Jacques Cartier, j’ai eu le plaisir d’y aller assez souvent par le passé avec des groupes amateurs de nature,
      Sous les Roches endroit mentionné dans ton texte, il se passait un phénomène assez spécial de “mouches feu” bioluminescence, autrement dit des lucioles.
      Déjà mentionnées par les premiers missionnaires de la Nouvelle France qui apparemment célébraient la messe éclairés par des mouches à feu
      emprisonnées dans des bocaux de verres.
      C’est toujours passionnant de lire tes application et aventures.
      Bonne santé et bel saison touristique.
      Source: Société d’Entomologie du Québec-Insectarium de Montréal — Site internet 2004

  9. You’re right, Mail, this National Park is a very wonderful one. I’m use to go walking and climbing during fall and spring ant it’s always a new experience.
    Thanks to you.

    Diane

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