For our second camping trip of the season we decided to try something a little more adventurous than Oka. After last year’s l’Entremont adventure, we knew we could handle a big hike, but didn’t necessarily want to do something of the same calibre as the hike to l’Entremont. Le Vallonnier was perfect for what we wanted.
The hike to the site wouldn’t have been too bad if we hadn’t made a wrong turn . . . oops. Instead we found ourselves at a “Welcome to Orford!” sign with a “You are here!” map that pointed out our mistake. At least it was a pleasant walk along the gravel bike path. We discovered where we went wrong: the path that branches off from the bike path doesn’t have the Vallonnier indicated as a destination. We did the hike several times over the weekend, and on average it took us about 45 minutes to go from the parking to the site, which we felt was a nice distance. The path (apart from the gravel bike path) is quite rocky, and goes up and down quite a bit, but was do-able for us with our packs. I wouldn’t want to do it carrying lots of duffle bags or a big tent bag though, as some of the people we met did.
The site itself is quite nice. A total of 14 sites are laid out on the side of a hill, some lower down and some higher up. All have raised platforms for setting up a tent. There is only one communal fire pit, surrounded by benches and picnic tables. The evenings we were there a little less than half the sites were occupied, and probably about half of the campers came down to the communal area at some point. It was nice to be social while camping, rather than confined to our site.
The SEPAQ network offers an interesting rebate to campers: before 11am, boat rentals are 50% off. We took adventage of this and rented a canoe. I can’t remember the last time I canoed (if ever?), and was glad that Dave could direct me in what to do. I just kept thinking “it’s sort of like a dragonboat, but not”. It was a lot of fun to paddle out into the middle of lake and observe everything going on around us.