Quebec recently opened nearby Gatineau Park to general visitation as part of its C-19 re-opening plan. In celebration, I invited Ruth and Dave on a favorite Gatineau outing of mine - a nice little mostly off-trail route atop a section of the Eardley Escarpment near Lusk Falls.
It was a breezy and very cool day for the last day in May. In my opinion this was a good thing, for it kept the bugs at bay and prevented us from working up too much of a sweat. We started off from the usual spot at the end of hotel de Ville road and headed towards the Escarpment, which looms impressively large in front of you from this vantage point. The number of cars parked here on the roadside and at the nearby Lusk Falls parking area was higher than I had ever seen it.
Fortunately, the people count went way down as we made our way across the perfect little meadow path towards the base of the Escarpment.
Keeping left at each intersection, we were soon at the base of the escarpment itself, and the trail began to steeply rise, and it soon required some minor scrambling in spots. We came to a spot where a branch-off to the Down Under Climbing Cliff was reached, and we decided to take that route (up alongside the climbing cliff) rather than the more typical rope-and-slab route.
The ascent up to the climbing area has had some good trailwork done, with some sturdy assistive ladders placed to avoid the trickiest sections. Even so, there are still a few places where some light scrambling is required.
Soon we're at the Down Under climbing cliff, and it is a pretty cool place. The wall is quite overhanging, and there area a fair number of climbers hard at work attempting the bolted routes, which look fairly strenuous. The rock is clean and the routes look obvious, although (as mentioned earlier) they look like they would get you pumped pretty quickly.
We observed the action for a few minutes and then continued on up, following the base of the climbing cliff. There is a final section of steep scrambling with a touch more exposure, but with a bit of care we managed (to get) through this, and soon we end up on a wonderful open lookout atop the cliff.
Down Under, downhill view
After enjoying the lookout for a few minutes, we continue on. I chart a course over to the usual route in this area, which we intersect after about five or ten minutes of easterly bushwhacking. We've now come about 300 feet up from the base of the Escarpment, and we've got another five hundred or so to gain before reaching the crest.
The herd path route we are now on parallels a small valley and stream draining off the plateau above the Escarpment. The little stream is called Ruisseau Faris, and it has a number of refreshing little cascades, falls and pools along its length, along which we periodically stop to admire and photograph.
The gradually-rising and easy to follow herdpath continues up beside the brook for about half a mile (approx 6-700 metres), at which point we reach an intersection with a trail leading off and up to the left. This is what I like to call the "Escarpment Trail", and it is the beginning of the next phase of our journey, traversing northwest along the top of the Escarpment.