La Traversée de Charlevoix de la famille Simpson & Tardif

The Simpson & Tardif Family Charlevoix Crossing

It's not just competitions and races to experience surpassing oneself!

Going on an adventure as a family can prove to be a very enriching self-transcendence for each member of the family. A superb adventure probably creating particularly unforgettable moments! Project that seemed ambitious, but achievable with good preparation!
Never underestimate the strength of our children, they might surprise you! 
The BRIX break 🍁 🍁 must have been well deserved and awaited by Charles, Luca and Lola!

Stéphanie Simpson shares her experience with her family.
'' To begin with, let's say it to each other, Maxime Tardif and I are not hikers or camping enthusiasts. Truth be told, I can't remember the last time I slept in a tent. 🏕 or in a rustic cabin with no water 💦 nor electricity. We are more the style to “book” vacations in the United States, but the pandemic has led us to review our choices. When Maxime suggested I do the Traversée de Charlevoix with the children 👶 👶 👶 (Charles 6 years old, Luca 8 years old and Lola 11 years old), i.e. 105 kilometers between Saint-Urbain and Mont Grands-Fonds, I found the idea a bit ambitious. It should also be mentioned that the journey includes more than 3200 meters of elevation gain. That makes some climbs for little legs 🦵 of children. On the other hand, he seemed to believe so much that it was possible that I couldn't resist jumping into the adventure. Anyway, I'm always ready to embark on somewhat crazy ideas. Maxime always told me that it was his dream to live an experience of this kind with his family. The opportunity was too good to pass up!
"If you can dream it, you can do it."
waltz disney
After making reservations for the week of July 9-15, we had to think about equipment. You can well imagine that we had absolutely nothing. No sleeping bags, no groundsheets, no boots 🥾 of hikes. Simply nothing. Based on lists found on various hiking blogs for the equipment needed for this kind of adventure, and not really knowing if everything was really relevant or not, we made our purchases at Decathlon. A bit haphazardly, but with the idea of ​​more than not enough, we had to go there three times since they always seemed to be missing something. As we opted for the “luxury” version of the Traversée de Charlevoix, the weight of our equipment was not really an issue or an element to consider. Anyway, I couldn't see myself starting to weigh everything for five people. This deluxe option includes luggage transport 🧳 between the chalets, as well as the possibility of having pre-prepared bags of food left in the freezers or refrigerators. I was very happy that I didn't necessarily have to eat dehydrated food for a week. And the pinnacle is that I had the right to my "Gin-Tonic" every night, which I think would be very well deserved. So we only had to carry our necessary gear for the day. Thus, it was much less heavy and much easier for the children. Aside from a hydration pack with small water bottles, as well as their snacks for the day, they carried nothing else. Before embarking on this adventure, we did a lot of positive reinforcement with the children. They were already aware that those around us did not think it was realistic for us to succeed in this crossing. I think that motivated them. In addition, we did some walks with them to prepare them a little physically. It had become a joint project that everyone was eager to participate in. A few days before the hike, only the food aspect remained to be finalized. Being an ultramarathoner, I have a good idea of ​​how much calories a full day of walking can be, which helped us with snack and meal prep. We've made bags of gummies, bags of "wild" Ringolos, applesauce, Pop-Tarts, squares of Rice Crispies, nature-recharged Brix , and more. In short, everything that children dream of eating at home 🏠 , but that is only allowed in moderation. During the crossing, they can eat whatever they want. Happiness! 🙌🏻 Maxime's mother graciously cooked homemade meals for us every evening in the chalets. Between the spaghetti sauce 🍝 , Chinese noodles and beef bourguignon, we feasted like kings 🤴 . What more could you ask for? We had even planned the desserts. On Friday July 9, we left Montreal for Charlevoix. Once we arrived at the crossing reception, we were told that the ideal age to make the crossing is between 8 and 12 years old. Oops, Charles is only 6 years old! Also, they tell us that it is better to take out insurance if it is necessary to pick us up by helicopter. 🚁 . Let's say it's not too reassuring, but we're going to need more than that to deflate. You have to understand that we are here to finish this crossing, we want it! It's a little in our temperaments to Maxime and me, to want to go after what we undertake.
Day 1️⃣ (July 9th) -
departure to the Squirrel 4.2 km + 41 m-55 m
Considering that we drove over 5 hours to get to Charlevoix, we are very happy that the first day is relatively small in terms of mileage. We walk the distance in about 50 minutes. The Chalet de l'Écureuil offers magnificent views. We are already charmed by the beauty of nature. From this moment, we know that this adventure will be memorable. What about the first night! Since we hadn't “tested” our equipment before, we had no idea if it was suitable or not. To be honest, the worst purchase was our floor mats. The kids are already moving around a lot at the base, so the noise this made on the mattresses was unbearable. Just when we thought the noises were going to stop and finally be able to go back to sleep, another went off for a nocturnal dance on his carpet. It was terrible, Maxime and I barely slept that night. I even found him at dawn installed in his sleeping bag on the balcony of the chalet. From that day on, the children were nicknamed the caterpillars. Maxime said he had never seen such a beautiful sunrise, I presume that made up for this hellish night.
Day 2️⃣ (July 10) -
Squirrel/Marmot 14.4 km + 390 m-784 m
This is where it really begins. Maxime and Lola often find themselves leading in front, while Charles, Luca and I form a trio behind. I quickly understand that walking with children is not like with adults. They don't like silence, they want to talk constantly. Perfect! I invent a game of secret agent in search of missions in the woods. Agent Denis, Agent Tardif and Agent Simpson are prepared for all eventualities. We start by trying to find 10 wild mushrooms. Once the mission is accomplished, we move on to the next one. For the youngest, it's easier if it becomes a kind of game. They forget that they are walking for hours. Although I had to use my imagination to find missions that were all different from each other, I found myself enjoying it. A way to reconnect with childhood and think of nothing but counting the mushrooms or the tracks left by the animals. We complete it all in 4:08. We are very proud. Once there, the children take the opportunity to swim in Lake Boudreault. They say they hunt eels… to finally realize that they are leeches! Although we had the option of adding miles and climbing Mount Morios, we felt that would be too much for the kids. Our chalet flatmates quickly confirmed that we had made the right choice. They came back tired and found the climb difficult. Maxime and I also quickly realized that we wouldn't really have a cellular network during the crossing, it was a great opportunity to take a step back and enjoy the present moment. Something we often forget to do with the hubbub of work and life in general.
Day 3️⃣ (11 July) -
Groundhog/Owl 17.8 km + 844 m-635 m
The third day was our first day with a lot of elevation gains. Despite a few small drops in energy here and there felt by Charles and Luca, everything went well. I must admit that the lunch break was always eagerly awaited. On the menu, ramen with tofu. In fact, it was the meal of choice all week. Long live the Dollorama! I must also admit that the children love them. It's easier to get them going if the lunch is good! Here, we had chosen a shorter course which was 11.22 km (instead of 17.8 km). Although it was Maxime's idea, internally I wanted to do the full climb to the top. At a certain point, we thought we had missed the intersection to take the shortcut, which forced us to announce to the children that in the end we would take the longer route. The children did not grumble or show discouragement. Later, we realized that it was still possible to cut 6 kilometers from our route for the day, but we made a family decision to do the entire hike. The view at the top was definitely worth the tougher climbs. We completed the whole thing in 5:09.
Day 4️⃣ (July 12) -
Owl/Blue Jay 19.6 km + 587 m-948 m
This day will be the longest walking day of our crossing. In addition, the heat is oppressive. From the start, Maxime has been very rigorous about children's water consumption. Every 500 meters (or almost), we take the time to let them take out their water bottle to drink water. We were very aware that we had to avoid heatstroke at all costs. This course was magnificent especially when we arrived at the Parc des Hautes-Georges. We crossed the bridge over the Malbaie River and decided that this was the perfect place to take a break and take the opportunity to swim. Although there was a good current, the children let themselves go and Maxime joined them. It was nice to see them laugh despite their fatigue. They are very resilient. They expressed no discouragement or desire to end this adventure. After lunch, there were only 5.5 kilometers of walking left before arriving at the next chalet. I have to admit that Chalet Jay Bleu was our favourite. In addition to the breathtaking view, there was a kind of natural swimming pool. The children bathed there for hours. Charles took the opportunity to give us a performance of the Macarena and Luca invented the sea worm dance. In short, they have a lot of imagination. Maxime and I were always surprised to see how much energy they still had after those long days. On the fourth day, we walked for 6:14.
Day 5️⃣ (July 13) -
Blue Jay/Coyote 15.7 km + 626 m-259 m
They say this is the least demanding day of the raid (excluding the first day), but I believe that with the accumulated fatigue, it is still a challenge. Charles drags his feet a bit, I stay last with him. He exclaims loud and clear and from the bottom of his heart: “I hurt everywhere! We all start laughing and so does he. In turn, the children take turns in front of the troop to "lead" everyone. I believe this position makes them proud. A kind of positive reinforcement. These children are amazing. The secret agents took a break to make way for the songs to answer. I use my memory to recall songs from my childhood. Sometimes I realize halfway through that I don't remember the whole song. They find it funny. Otherwise, we opt for a story where everyone completes it in turn. There are lots of frogs, Chicken Nugets and Big Macs in our stories. I wonder why. The fifth day takes 4h53 of walking. A beautiful day. As soon as we arrive, the children practice for the evening show. After supper, we gather with our roommates and the campers for the day's performance. They are bursting with energy. A beautiful joy of living. They make everyone laugh with their invented characters, their advice for going on a safari in Africa and the imitation of Charles' virtual chair. At that time, Maxime and I are more than aware that we will be able to complete this expedition. I can already see the pride in Maxime's eyes, it's magic.
Day 6️⃣ (July 14th) -
Coyote/L'Épervier 19.7 km + 512 m-652 m
We used to leave around 7 a.m., which gave the kids plenty of time to recover and play together. We thought this day would be easier considering the lower elevation, but it will still be demanding. Sylvain, one of the people who did the hike at the same time as us, had got into the habit of leaving before us. Our goal was to catch him as quickly as possible. Very quickly, the famous song, "On s'en va Chasse le lion!" became, "We're going to hunt Sylvain!" ". The children even invent a whole new version of this song. It was very funny! That day, we completed it all in 5:35 a.m. When we got to camp, Maxime and I hesitated to wait a few hours to get back on the road and complete the remaining 10.3 kilometers of the crossing. Finally, Lola was very tired and we didn't think it was a good idea. Anyway, we would have arrived in the dark and we would have had to find a hotel room somewhere at the last minute. It was better that way! I have to admit that I was really looking forward to taking a good shower. The mixture of sunscreen and insect repellent was starting to get intense on my skin. That evening, we were treated to another great performance from the children! Even a “soft” version of Love Académie inspired by Têtes à Claques. I have to admit I don't know how they got access to these videos in the first place, but hey…
Day 7️⃣ (July 15th) -
Groundhog/Owl 10.3 km + 296 m-355 m
Maxime and I get up at 3:30 a.m. and take the opportunity to drink coffee while watching the sunrise. We admit to being surprised to have almost reached the end. We are aware that our journey was ambitious. We realize how lucky we are to have such a close family. As the saying goes, “A chain is only as strong as the weakest link”. I think that reflects our adventure well. If one of us couldn't continue for one reason or another, it could have jeopardized the experience of the other family members. Everyone gave their 100%. I've always told children that you just have to always do your best to be proud of yourself. Here, they really gave us a great proof of what it means to “do your best”. Around 4:15 a.m., we left as a family to complete our adventure. The excitement was in the air. It was our fastest day with 2 h 07 of walking, the children were running at times. The arrival at Mont Grands-Fonds was magical and memorable. Maxime took the opportunity to ask me to marry 💒 . I didn't expect that at all, but I have to admit he picked the best time to do it. He couldn't have done better. The children were so excited by this big request, they think they will become real sisters and brothers (because we are a blended family).
You know the famous song 🎵 from Supertramp, “Logical”? This adventure reminds me a bit of the lyrics of the song…
"When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful. A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical. And all the birds in the trees, well they would be singing so happily. Oh joyfully, playfully watching me. But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible, logical, oh responsible, practical. And they showed me a world where I could be so dependent. Oh clinical, oh intellectual, cynical…"
I believe that as we get older, we forget the little things in life. I always say that you have to know how to keep your child's heart. I thank Charles, Luca and Lola for reminding us of what it is to be a child, even if it was only for a few days. There is nothing too big, we can believe that everything is possible and we don't need much to be happy. The Traversée de Charlevoix was more than a sporting achievement, it allowed us to discover many things. In addition to being very proud to have been at the end of this hassle-free adventure, we realized that it takes a “solid” family to realize what we have accomplished. The youngest can still believe in magic and that everything is possible, just encourage them a little to surpass themselves. If there is one thing to remember from this crossing of Charlevoix, it is that we should not limit our children because they are children. You might be surprised at what they can accomplish. We have been. It's a great way to develop their resilience. This vacation could have been a disaster considering our lack of experience as hikers, but in the end, it was most wonderful.
Thank you life! But, as I always say,
“We all make our own luck! ". Don't be afraid to jump into the unknown and take your children there, it's one of the best gifts you can give them. Now, what will be our next adventure? ''

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