Climbing the Via Ferrata at Palissades De Charlevoix
Just when I thought I had my fill of adventure in the Saguenay/Charlevoix region—biking, hiking, stand-up paddleboarding, sea kayaking, and whitewater rafting—I topped it all with this morning’s activity. Charlevoix is home to one of the few Via Ferratas in the world outside of the famous Dolomites. Using cables affixed to an 1187-foot rock face, we attached our carabiners and used iron rungs on the steep sections to clamber up the rock wall at Palissades De Charlevoix. Following our relaxed guide, Vincent, (me, not so relaxed), we slowly and carefully made it to the top of the steep cliff. We stopped to pick wild blueberries and to peer down at a sinuous creek below where we spotted a beaver swimming next to his oversized dam. The real excitement starts at the top when we crossed a suspension bridge made of wobbly planks high above the canyon floor. Then Vincent says to me, “now it’s time to rappel down.” I looked down the 230-foot rock ledge and panicked. But Vincent slowly got me to lean off the ledge and believe in the equipment. I descended, kicking off the smooth face of the wall, and quickly found myself at the bottom, heart racing but proud of my accomplishment. That’s one climb I won’t soon forget.
To top it off, we went whalewatching on a zodiac that afternoon from Baie-Saint-Catherine with Croisières AML. Near the mouth of the Saguenay Fjord, the St. Lawrence feels vast here, like an ocean. We zipped out to the heart of the river on the speedy raft and soon were watching the second largest mammal in the world, the fin whale blowing its spout and surfacing the water with its long arching back. Suddenly we heard a huge splash and the naturalist got very excited pointing to a minke whale that was completely out of the water breaching. He noted that the whales breach to wash off all parasites and to communicate to the other whales. Or simply to perform for us. He would breach 3 or 4 times, flipping out of the water like a flying fish. We then cruised over to a colony of gray seals before making our way into the fjord to see a tall waterfalls called the Caribou Falls. At the corner of my eye, I caught a splash of white and soon we were following a pod of beluga whales, jumping in and out of the water like dolphins. That’s what I call a dream day.