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This Thingamabob Called La Puce

Its Saturday noon. My girlfriend and I pack up and leave, then we run errands in a rush. Destination: Parc national dAiguebelle for a stay in a rustic cabin. Nicolas, the acting manager of the rustic shelters, gives me a key and a number for “La Puce deau”. At that moment, I think, “This must be to unlock the water pump.” Idiot!

On the road to D’Alembert and MontBrun, a cloud of icing sugar gives trees a fancy look that seems to come from the best Christmas movies, except that they have not been spraypainted! Weather is just great: −5 °C, bright and sunny. Shortly after we have gone through registration at the registration centre, we (or rather I) enjoy the fun and the complexities of the winding roads through the park. My girlfriend is sitting beside me, we are talking and we are already enjoying this. 

In season, your luggage can be carried from the parking to the cabin upon request. However, the opening is not before a week. So, no princesses’ whims! Snowshoeing 700 metres, no big deal! 

Well, turns out it IS a big deal. I struggle hard. Not because of the snowshoes or the snow, or because I am not in shape or my technique is wrong. It is because of the 20 litres of water! The canister does not stay on my sleigh, and it has a slotted handle. I move at a snail’s pace because of this burden. Rather than grumbling, I decide to take advantage of the time I have to do the math: 20 litres of water equal 20 kilograms, so 44 pounds with both hands. It is way too much for a single day! When we get to the cabin, I look up to the top of the door and read “La Puce deau”. Are you kidding me?! 

Already exhausted, my girlfriend and I agree to eat before to take on the woods. In the meantime, I light a fire in our new wood stove to be comfortable in there! The rustic cabin is really great. It looks like our family hunting camp, minus the sheet metal. Log walls, log ceiling, log beds. I got no more time to visit the cabin, as we are already outside, wearing our snowshoes. The sun goes down early on the brink of the winter solstice. We have to enjoy it! 

Gilles and his colleague, who are park employees, came by to ensure we had everything we needed. Nice thought! 

Teintes de gris
My girlfriend on the Matissard Lake 

The sun has disappeared for some time now. Whatever, I like all shades of grey. Have you ever taken the time to look at the various colours that are hidden in the alders, the ice and the winter sky?! We tend to forget them, not noticing them anymore, although they are worth the time. 

Time to Pause 

Trying to stop “hyperactive Réjean” is like trying to stop a train on a distance of 50 metres. It is not easy! On camping trips, I am always working on something: I chop wood, build steps, keep the fire burning, set up the tent. But now, nothing. My girlfriend brought a book. I wanted to do the same SO BAD! Instead, here I am, stuck with the Star Système magazine. I think to myself, “Good God, what am I going to do all this time?!” Desperate, I take a look at our new couch and spot a small notebook: the log book of La Puce d’eau. Well, look at that. 

Le soleil était parti depuis un moment déjà. Peu importe, j’aime toutes les teintes de gris. Avez-vous déjà pris le temps de regarder les notes de couleurs qui se cachent dans les aulnes, la glace et le ciel en hiver…?! On a tendance à l’oublier, à ne plus les percevoir… Elles valent la peine de s’arrêter.

A few minutes later, I have already read part of 2012 log entries, almost all entries of 2013, and the first ones of 2014. Let’s be clear: what happens in La Puce deau, stays in La Puce deau. But I seem to recall that the places squirrel was named Mr. Albert. Aside from the wildlife, tons of families, couples and lovers apparently meet in the woods to drink some good wine, celebrate a birthday, and go around to discover kilometres of trails. Many play cards on rainy days. As one of them would say, “We could not find any deck of cards in the cabin. We suspect it represents something else!” 

I did not find any deck of cards either. The only one I found was in my cellphone. And this is how I spent the evening. I was finally able to unwind. 

But my real find was the La Puce deau rustic shelter, a little wonder in the forest where you can make yourself at home. 

Located in front of the Matissard Lake, not very far from Camping Abijévis (MontBrun sector), this is the ideal accommodation for a group of four to five people. The ViceRoi, a cabin for larger groups, is just a stone’s throw away from it. I plan to go back with friends for a twoday to threeday stay. It is so affordable! Surrounded by my friends, the motto will be the same, that is “unwind properly”. 

P.S. The winter season begins on Friday, December 19, at Parc national d’Aiguebelle. 

La Puce d'eau
During winter, La Puce deau becomes a rustic shelter.