The bus hits a pothole and the jolt tosses me from my seat. The young girl sitting beside her mother in front of me sees it happen and starts to giggle. I join her chuckle with one of my own as I right myself upward, a little embarrassed.
It is a 45-minute, vibrating bus ride to Lake Matane, where we finally stop. The driver says a few sentences in French, then levers open the doors and departs. A family of four skitters out behind him and I am the last to leave. If I understood correctly, we will be stopping here for about half an hour to have a look around, and perhaps be joined by others.
At this end of the lake is a spill-way or fish ladder draining the main body of the lake into a smaller collection pond. A grated bridge is over top of it and the children run to stand on it to watch the torrent of water flow below them.
I head for a little path towards the trees to see what is there. Dancing quick-footed down a small bank, pushing tree limbs aside, trying to avoid getting a face full of spider webs, I come out at a dock with a boat. The lake is flat calm, reflecting the mountains rising around it and the smokey-blue haze above it.
I creep along the bank, side-stepping stones trying not to fall in, looking for the best shot. I emerge from the trees and go over to a bridge and follow the gravel road, shifting a few feet to the right, looking through my viewfinder to locate mid-center.
Then I put the camera down and just absorb the beauty around me. The bus rattles as it starts up, signalling it is time to leave the lake, and I jog over and climb aboard. It will be another 30 minutes before sundown- prime moose viewing time.
Taking my seat, I drop the top window down to let in some air, it is very hot. We have been joined my a man who sits up front and introduces himself as our guide, and a man and women in their twenties.
We drive slowly deep into the park, off on a road where there is a rope blocking the access. The guide gets out and lowers the barricade allowing us to enter, then puts it back up behind us. He jumps back on board and instructs the driver to go forward slowly. There is an open area with salt blocks laid out but we see no moose and carry on.
The sun lowers in the sky and we head up a long hill. The bus suddenly brakes and our guide sticks his head out the door. He brings his hands to cup around his mouth and nose and lets out a long huffing sound. He waits a moment and does it again. There is a moose at the bottom of the hill crossing the road, it stops and looks towards the sound. Our guide bellows again. The moose stands still for a moment longer then heads off into the woods.
Further up the hill we stop to watch the sunset. The U-shaped valley is dusted in shades of blue and grey and streaked with pink.
Within five minutes we see another moose roaming around a meadow. It turns briefly to have a look at the bus before trotting off .
The darkness is too much for my camera, and I pack it away but our luck continues. We see a mother with her baby, and on the return drive back, the bus driver brakes hard and I again get tossed forward but manage to stay seated this time. On our left is a large moose running the ditch. He crosses in front of the bus, down the road, and disappears into the trees.
The moose photo safari is $38 Canadian, and departs from John campground of Matane Wildlife Reserve, Quebec at 6:30 pm. We returned to the campground by 10:30 pm. The reserve is just 30 minutes outside Matane. If you want to know more here is the link https://www.sepaq.com/rf/mat/.
Please join me again on my next adventure to Philomene Falls. Happy travels from Maritime Mac.
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