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Quebec's way-off-the-beaten-path luxurious wilderness

By Margo Pfeiff
  Zig-zag through thigh-deep, virgin powder down 40-degree glades. Or slow the pace with a snowshoe trek through silent forests where you're outnumbered two-to-one by moose. Après outdoor hot tub or sauna, gourmet eats await: smoked trout dressed up with ginger granita in a dining room with a view of wilderness.
     The legendary Chic-Choc ("shick-shock") Mountains on Quebec's Gaspé Peninsula have long been the domain of hardcore backcountry trekkers. The envious rest of us were giddy when, in December of 2005, Chic-Chocs Mountain Lodge opened, otherwise known as Auberge de Montagne des Chic-Chocs. It's the only full-service, backcountry ski operation in Quebec, an intimate 18-room, upscale, country-rustic inn smack in the middle of the Matane Wildlife Reserve. The lodge is so out-there, that you traverse the last 29 km (18 mi) from the nearest road via snowcat on a rumbling 90-minute ride.
     Daytime is playtime in a hefty average annual snow dump of seven m (23 ft). Your backdrop: the St. Lawrence River. Guides school newbies, navigating untracked powder on short, wide "Meta" skis. Expect uphill aerobics. Backcountry snow hounds can fetch maps and a radio, and head off with a buddy. Summer? Just replace ski poles with fishing poles.

Award-winning, Montréal, QC-based freelance writer and photographer Margo Pfeiff's work has appeared in Reader's Digest (books and magazines), GEO, Better Homes and Gardens, Time-Life books, Canadian Geographic, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The Dallas Morning News, Montréal Gazette, National Post, The Globe and Mail and Cathay Pacific's Discovery magazine. She is working on a book about contemporary life in Nunavut.

Photo Credit & Article:
courtesy, Canadian Tourism Commission

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