Located 833 kilometers from Montreal and far away from common Gaspesian's site, I have only little chance to ski this location. Being aroung for easter's vacation, I stepped on the occassion to invite myself at Isabelle Dombrovski, one of the instigator of the project. Let remeber the facts about this location: some backcountry enthusiatics and land owner in Maria decided to trim some brushes in the late 2000's.
Upon positive reaction, the site joinned the FQME to become an official location and to prevent any lawsuit (Here in Quebec, a land owner can be sued if someone get injured on his land). Far from proselytizing, Isabelle and her team is more focus on local cohesion than having tourist from Montreal visiting.
After visiting montagne St-Pierre and Val d'Irene yesterday, the initial plan was to visit Maria on sunday woth my old firend Jean-Maurice. Having not pay the extra for "nice weather" when I initially booked our trip, we had fog and rain on sunday morning. Injured yesterday while goaltending a dart game, Jean-Maurice decided to stay ain bed while I hitted the 132 highway. The scenic is really nice on the Matapédia's river border but It really steps up at Carleton-sur-la-mer. The river throws itself into the sea and the view is breathtaking.
The arrival at Maria is contrasting to the rest of the gaspesian demography. While being relatively small (population fo 2500) the town feels alive; there is a lot of restaurants; bed and breakfast; hospital, gaz station, groceries, etc... I carefully double check the snow coverage before my visit but the quantity of snow on the groung leaves me perplex. 10 kilometers later I breathe normaly, the bucolic micro climat left fairly good amount of snow at the end of Deschenes road. There must be 1 meter of snow still remaining at the base of the mountain.
My guides for the day are two border colleys; take me to the skin track that starts a few meters from the parking. The uphill travel is really smooth and suitable for fish scales. A mid mountain shelter is avalible and well equiped with a table, chairs and a wood stove. From there are two differents trails leading to two differents trails.
The wall section is more steep and can be lapped a few times for some fun turns. The other section is easier. The two sectors are well maintened glades. Both trails are suitable for beginner or intermediate skiers.
Even with the interesting snow pack, the conditions after yesterday heat at last night rain were not optimal. The top crust did not resist my weight on several turns. I had to be very vigilent on my ways down.
According to Isabelle, the ski season can easily reach mid may on good years. There are several plans for next year at Maria, new trails on the existing mountain and new trails on a new mountain.
Maria might not have the territory of the vertical of most gaspesian's location but it is a very exotic location. The luxuriant sea and the sympathic village would desserve a longer visit on my next visit. This leave my with a certain priapism when I think what could be Maria under witner conditons....