Adventure is first and foremost a state of mind. There is no need to cross borders, to go into exile in a remote region, or even to leave for long weeks to satisfy one's desire to escape and get away from it all. Over the last few months, as the pandemic and the shades of confinement stretched on, I succumbed to the call of nature by favouring micro-adventure and the outdoors. I wanted to walk Quebec differently, to take the longest paths, to get lost in my backyard, to explore my territory and discover its best-kept secrets. This is the very essence of micro-adventure: to take a new look at one's immediate environment, to cultivate wonder in simplicity, to go and discover places that have been forgotten by the radar, and to find adventure within reach.

A two-hour drive from Montreal, far from busy trails and Instagrammable peaks, I fell under the spell of the Mastigouche Wildlife Reserve, a vast natural environment popular for summer vacationing and hunting and fishing activities, but still unknown to hikers. During my escapades, the Tonnerre trail has quickly become my favourite place to bathe in the forest alone, summer and winter, far from the chaos of the metropolis. It is one of the wildest and best-preserved sections of the National Trail in Quebec, perfect for a rejuvenating 3-day hike in the Mauricie backcountry. 



This 19.2 km section winds through dense mature forest before climbing the rocky headlands overlooking the Bark River valley, then skirting the cliffside of Lac au Tonnerre for several kilometres before reaching Lac Saint-Bernard and the refuge of the same name. The place is ideal to admire the sunset, set up a base camp for two nights, giving you time to settle in the arms of nature and explore the surroundings. A 12.4 km hilly loop allows you to walk around Lake Saint-Bernard and enjoy beautiful views. 

In the heart of winter, few visitors take the snowy paths of the Mastigouche to slow their pace and take in its beauty. In the quietness of the landscapes embellished by the first snowfall of the year, I feel alone in the world. Only the sound of my footsteps sinking into the powdery snow breaks the soothing silence of the sleeping boreal forest. A crackling sound, muffled by the coldness of the atmosphere, mingles with the whistling of the large conifers swaying in the wind. These majestic trees seem to be observing me with a glance of kindness, while my legs are getting heavier under the weight of my heavily packed bag. Searching for the paths of least resistance through this snow-covered trail invites me not only to praise slowness but to experience the territory differently, as a sensorial place rich in insights and emotions. Inevitably, solitude allows me to engage with nature and to pay attention to all its subtleties that otherwise go unnoticed.



To keep me warm throughout this micro-adventure, I chose the HITI sweater made of Thermal Pro® POLARTEC®, made from recycled materials. This high-quality synthetic insulator provides both comfort and exceptional warmth without the weight. Highly breathable, this ecological sweater with thermoregulatory properties wicks moisture efficiently and keeps me dry during periods of sustained effort. Easy to layer, it's the ideal mid-layer for long winter hikes, no matter what the weather conditions. When the wind picks up or in case of precipitation, I combine it with a waterproof-breathable shell for more protection.  

There is no better way to start the new year than to leave my mark in the fresh snow of January. I like to think that each of these steps, as soon as they are sketched, as soon as they are erased, will be the guarantee of a year filled with unexplored paths, wild spaces to contemplate, small and big adventures just a few kilometres from my home. 



  • Location: Mastigouche Wildlife Reserve, QC

  • Distance: 50.8 km

  • Positive elevation : 1,384 m

  • Duration: 3 days, 2 nights

  • Lodging : lean-to (free) or shelter ($)

  • Info, trail maps and reservations:


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