The route of the Tour du Mont Albert descends into the valley of the Ruisseau du Diable. The trail was mostly quite rough, picking its way down through endless boulders of orange serpentinite. But, very pretty. The harsh soil formed from the serpentinite kept the forest from establishing itself on the valley walls and in most areas of the valley bottom. This gave the U-shaped valley a particularly rugged alpine feel. High up on the eastern-facing walls, a few traces of last winter's snowpack could still be observed.
Gorge of the Ruisseau du Diable
Last bit of last winter's snows
After picking my way most of the way down to the valley floor, I encountered a trail junction with the IAT - the International Appalachian Trail. An extension of the historic U.S. Appalachian Trail, the IAT's goal is to follow the spine of the Appalachian Mountain range as it extends northeast from the USA. Therefore, the IAT extends north from Mt Katahdin in Maine, crossing into New Brunswick (in fact, going over the top of Mt Carleton, where there are no markings for it at all) and then into Quebec. The Chic-Choc Mountains are indeed part of the Appalachian Mountain chain, and so the IAT follows the crest of the Chic-Chocs. Here at Mont Albert, it crosses part of the summit plateau and then descends into this same valley in which I was now hiking.
Such is the unfavorableness of the soil here that it was not until about the 2500-foot level that I first started to encounter trees of any significant height, and even then, only sporadically. This is at least 1000 feet (300m) lower than the treeline on "normal" terrain in this part of eastern North America.
The stream itself - the Ruisseau du Diable - was not flowing. It was late July, and not a drop of water was visible in the wide streambed. The stream appeared to be entirely driven by the melt of winter snow (either that or July of 2013 was exceptionally dry). Although the walk along the trail in the valley bottom was quite scenic, I envisioned an even nicer scene with snow capped ridges above and a splashing stream alongside the trail. Perhaps mid-June is the best time to hike this trail, when the winter's snows have yet to fully melt.
Beautiful streamside path
The trail grew less rough and the valley walls farther apart as I walked down-valley. The opening valley started to give views eastward to the other mountains of the Chic-choc range (up until this point the views in the valley had been entirely confined to views of the slopes of Mont Albert itself).
Other high Chic-Choc Mountains
After a final large bridge crossing of the dry Ruisseau du Diable, the trail arrived at another shelter - the La Serpentine. By the various signs posted about, it was clear that this area was a mecca for backcountry skiiers in winter.