Over Handlebars and Across Water

Vallee Bras Du Nord: a pure backwoods paradise where the alpine scent is so striking it overpowers even the strongest bug spray (which, believe me, you need by the bucketful).

It’s a magnificent valley with cliffs, mountains and a pristine river running through it. After a couple of weeks touring through cities, we anxiously gulped in the fresh air and geared up for a day full of adventure.

It truly offers something for everyone – thank goodness – as not everyone is good at everything.

(Yes, this is obvious foreshadowing. Read on…)


More foreshadowing…minus the car.


Of the numerous activities to choose from in the region, our itinerary was set up with three: hiking, mountain biking and canoeing. We were free to do as much or as little of each activity as we wanted, and in all honesty, we didn’t really care what we did. Pete and I were both happy to just be in a more natural environment and punish our bodies for recent overindulgences of poutine.

Punish, I did. (Well beyond what was intended).

It was entirely my own fault. As we made our way by mountain bike to experience some of their 100 kms of marked trails, I asked few questions about properly using the bike, and made no mention out loud about the fact I hadn’t been on a bike in years, let alone on a track in the mountains.

River Crossing


It also didn’t help that my friend Michael had a serious cycling accident recently. I couldn’t get his mangled face out of my head as I bounced over tree roots and dipped down little slopes, gaining speed on a muddy track. (Did I mention that I am also a serious tachophobe?)

I was totally uneasy, but kept it to myself. I tried to take it slow, but as Pete and our guide moved well ahead of me, I tried to gain some ground, and the inevitable happened.

I skidded off the track at a muddy section and hit a root, sending my body over the top of the handle bars and onto the soft forest floor below. Luckily, I wasn’t on the edge of any hill. Even luckier, I somehow landed such that I didn’t go head first into anything hard. I had to call for Pete to come back and untangle the bike from my legs. The results of my fall wouldn’t be seen for a few hours as the bruising made its way to the surface, but I would come to find new ones as the next few days past, including impressions of bike parts etched into my legs.

Too shaken to continue, our mountain biking tour ended quickly. We forged new paths through the undergrowth and dodged the snaky maze of maple syrup tubes to quickly make our way back to smoother and wider road.

Maple Tapping

If I could have stuck my head under that maple syrup tap and gulped, I am sure my legs would have healed tout de suite!


Not quite the best way to start our day, but the next part most definitely made up for it.



When all else fails, get in a canoe.

(Have I mentioned how much I like to be on the water? Only a few dozen times, I am sure.)

Any day is made better with it, and the next part of ours was to navigate the Bras-Du-Nord river by canoe.

Canoe Nose


The first three kilometers were far too short, and we pulled ashore just 30 minutes later. Our grumbling stomachs supported the stop, and we did a quick hike a little further inland to spread out our picnic lunch near the Delaney Falls.

Hike to the falls

You can’t tell from this photo, but these falls are higher than Niagara.


And next, a fork in the road.

Our itinerary suggested leaving our canoes at shore and undertaking a moderate hike back through the forest, but continuing along the river was also an option.

Hike for 3km or canoe for 17? Not only did I strongly desire continuing in the water, but my still-wobbly legs dictated it be so.

Paddling Pete

Pete was especially happy, as there was less risk of me injuring myself this way.


By the end of our voyage, my arms were almost as wobbly as my legs. I was bruised, exhausted, and ravaged by mosquitoes in places I had not thought to protect.

But true to my roots, I was grinning from ear to ear. Is there anything more aptly Canadian than a long paddle in a canoe?

There are few things that make me happier, and I will dub our day at Vallee Bras Du Nord a stunning success. Bruises and all.

Us in Quebec

This photo was taken pre-accident. All smiles! But honestly, I should be forced to wear a helmet always.



The Vallee Bras Du Nord is just a short drive north of Québec City and is truly a brilliant outdoor playground with so many options for activities, year-round.

Our journey to Vallee Bras Du Nord was courtesy of Quebec Region Tourism and Tourism Quebec . All opinions (and pure lack of athletic skills) are our own, as always.

19 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • July 2 2013

    Great post and amazing photos!
    Tom L recently posted..Southern Mauritius – Pont Naturel (Natural Bridge), Gris-Gris and Rochester Falls

    • Pete
      July 4 2013

      Thanks Tom, glad you enjoyed 🙂

  • Wow what a beautiful location. I’d love to see Quebec. We might get there later in the year. It looks like you guys had a great time while working up a sweat.
    Nicole @ Green Global Travel recently posted..45 Things I Wish I Could Tell To My Younger Self

    • Pete
      July 4 2013

      Thanks Nicole. I never expected such beautiful scenery. If you go, make sure to bring bug repellant!

  • July 2 2013

    These pics are amazing! I especially like the one on the bridge. Look forward to future posts!
    Adam @ Travel Ideaz recently posted..Is Going to Libya an Option?

    • Pete
      July 4 2013

      Thanks Adam, that’s one of my fave shots from the day as well.

  • July 3 2013

    That waterfall pic is stunning!

    Sorry to hear about your mountain biking experience… at least your face didn’t end up like Michael’s! And it looks like the canoeing afterwards was much nicer.
    Amanda recently posted..Charleston by Carriage

    • Pete
      July 4 2013

      Thanks Amanda, it was difficult to decide which photo(s) to use as it was all such beautiful scenery. And yes, thankfully Dalene fared far better than Micheal’s spill.

  • July 3 2013

    Great post and pictures! I’ve been wanting to get into mountain biking but the fact that I haven’t used my bike in over a couple of years has me hesitant about it. I’d probably do the same thing and go over the handlebars. haha It all adds to the experience though!

    • Pete
      July 4 2013

      I think Dalene questions the “it’s like riding a bicycle” mantra now 😉

  • Every time I head up to Canada, I want to get in a canoe and do a portage trip through the northern Ontario region. I can never find the time. So it all looks quite awesome, bruises and all. Plus a scar or two is a much cheaper way to say, this is from my time in … (as opposed to getting a tattoo.)

    • Pete
      July 4 2013

      If you ever plan an Ontario canoe excursion, give me a call. In fact, that sounds like a good pitch to Ontario tourism….. On it!

  • July 3 2013

    This could have been me, totally… Then again, I always go so slow on a mountain bike that I’m rather in danger of just falling over due to lack of speed than flying over the handlebars;) Glad to hear you didn’t seriously hurt yourself. Apart from that, the Vallee Bras du Nord looks très beautiful:)!
    Vera recently posted..Racing across the Adriatic Sea

    • Pete
      July 4 2013

      It truly was beautiful there, and yes I’m glad it was only just a few bruises. It could have been a lot worse.

  • July 3 2013

    Despite the terrible accident, I must say, the views are spectacular. I’d have flown off my bike as well from pure distraction! Canada may have to be added to my travel list.

    • Pete
      July 4 2013

      I hope you have the chance, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed if you do.

  • Hank Vlietstra
    July 4 2013

    Awesome! Good story, gorgeous waterfall-photo.

  • Oh my. Glad you lucked out and had a soft landing. Sounds like the kind of clumsy trouble I would land myself in, as you got a small glimpse of with my “graceful wipeout” on Yonge St. No one commented on how well the bruises on my skinned knee coordinated with my party dress at TBEX.

    Incredible photos! I’m always super apprehensive about taking my DSLR on any waterborne activities, but your gamble paid off. Do you keep in a waterproof bag or anything in case the canoe tips?
    Steph | A Nerd At Large recently posted..On Finding My Tribe

    • July 8 2013

      Haha! Well, very thoughtful of you to co-ordinate outfits with bruise colors in advance, I should have my entire wardrobe that way!

      We are less worried about tipping the canoe or kayak (it is actually quite hard to do in calm water), then we are about dropping them in (which almost happened when kayaking in Montreal). We usually assess before we get in, if the water is calmish then we’re not worried, otherwise we’ll leave it on shore.

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge