Trail: Sentier National (Quebec Section) : http://www.nationaltrail.ca/
Current length: ~700 km, some sections still under construction.
Photo taken on the Cap 360 trail, in the Laurentian Mountains.
How many miles of the Sentier National (SN) have you hiked so far?
About 100 miles, not including back-and-forths and favorites I've hiked twice. I'm not sure I'll ever finish it (or if the trail itself will ever get finished – it's still under construction) but I still have many years ahead of me to do so.
How many years have you been doing it?
I took my first hike on the trail 6 years ago, and try to go for at least one or two week-ends a year since then.
What sections have you completed?
Most of the Lanaudière section, part of the Laurentides and Quebec region.
Why do you keep coming back to the SN?
It's a very wild and little known trail – in some sections, it's easy to hike for a whole day without meeting anyone else, which is something I appreciate. And in most places, you can camp anywhere without any permit or reservation, which is a great freedom. It is also close to home, which means I can go for week-end hikes with minimal preparation. I like to vacation in exotic places (I'm just coming back from a hiking trip in Switzerland) but this is the local trail I keep going back to for a breath of fresh air and the joy of sleeping in the wilderness.
How many people do you normally hike with?
Typically one – either my husband or my long-time hiking partner and friend. I thought about hiking on my own, but decided against it in the end. I like the company and need a partner who can throw a bear-bagging rock, as I'm completely unable to throw with accuracy, even if my life depended on it. I guess one is allowed a few girly traits, even when backpacking.
How many days and/or miles do you do at a time?
Typical outing is a two or three day week-end, 6 to 10 miles per day (considering we generally have to drive there and back during that time).I'm not there to win points or challenge myself, but simply reconnect with myself, my partner, and the simple pleasure of walking in the woods.
Do you have a trail name? If yes, what is it and what's the story behind it?
I don't have a trail name, and doubt I'll ever have one. It would just be silly for my husband and I to change names when we hike on our own, isn't it?
What has hiking the SN taught you that you've applied in "ordinary life?"
Once you've experienced the fear of running out of water in the middle of the woods, or the miserableness of being wet and cold on a stormy night, you realize how much the stressors of "civilized" life are really nothing to worry about. Humans really need very little to be satisfied: health, warmth, tasty food, fresh water, and a flat place to lie down at the end of the day. Everything else is extra, and isn't worth worrying about (even though I need to go back to the woods periodically to remind me of this fact).
Catherine submitted this Section Hiker Profile as part of the Gossamer Gear Pick Your Pack Raffle.