The Sounds of Silence

I have not completely given up on the plan to explore as many highlights of the TransCanada Trail as possible.

This summer I have planned 2 separate cycling trips in Quebec and yesterday I started the first one – riding the highly popular trail called Le Petit Train du Nord – or The Little North Train.

It is called a linear park and is actually a rail trail through the Laurentian Mountains north of Montreal. It is 200 km long but I have chosen to do only 130 of it.

La Chute Iroquois located a few hundred metres off the trail in Labelle.

I had hired an outfitter who arranged accommodations along the trail, shuttled me to my starting point 130 kms away, and moves my luggage each day to my next destination.

I am definitely underachieving on this trip because I’m taking 4 days to do a distance that I once could do in a single day.

It’s now my 3rd day alone – including the travel day to get here – and already I’m starting to talk to myself – out loud.

I’m convinced it is an affliction that affects those who spend too much time on their own.  Is it the need for reassurance that comes from hearing our own voice? … even if it’s just directed at ourselves.


Last night was particularly creepy.

It is still considered low season on this trail and I was alone in the inn where I stayed … completely alone … not even night staff in the 5 room restaurant/inn that once housed a railway station.

The narrow wooden stairs behind the restaurant that led to my room alone.

The century building creaked and moaned throughout the deafeningly quiet night. Sleep eluded this city girl for a long time – imagining ghosts in the walls.

It doesn’t look so scary in the daylight.

Today was especially quiet on the trail.  It would be almost an hour before I encountered a single person.  Pastoral would be an excellent way to describe it. Just me and cows, sheep, horses, and an endless number of chipmunks.


I followed some fresh deer tracks for a short while, hoping I would get lucky and see one. All I saw were birds of prey circling over the fields searching for breakfast.

I was strongly identifying with the mice hiding in the fields below.

Doesn’t this look like a scene out of Little Red Riding Hood?  When I encountered a couple of hikers wearing bear bells, it gave me pause.

The closer I got to Mont Tremblant, the busier the trail became, but no one stops to talk.  In fact, people were no longer even acknowledging my greeting as they went by.


I’m already looking forward to Friday when Norm Frampton from Norm 2.0 has kindly agreed to ride the last day with me.  The poor man will either have his ear talked off or I will be so accustomed to the quiet, I will struggle to find words to say.

Somebody.  Talk to me.  It’s quiet out here alone.

Either way, you might want to start feeling sorry for him.



  1. How bizarre and wonderful to have had the Inn all to yourself! I doubt this happens very often anymore.
    I would have loved it until time to go to bed. Then I would have been creeped out too.

    The journey and images are lovely! Safe travels. I’m sure Norm will be fine either way. 😊 That’s so cool that you’re meeting up for some of the ride!


  2. You have my fullest admiration. I cannot comprehend cycling 130 km let alone on my own. You are an amazing woman Ms Sisco. Enjoy the rest of the journey and carry on taking those beautiful photos 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Everyone seemed to be impressed with the ‘alone’ part. Truthfully, in planning this adventure, it was simply a case of wanting to do it and not having anyone interested in joining me. Only when I was sitting completely alone in an empty inn at night did I fully appreciate the implications of being alone.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It looks beautiful Joanne, and there’s nothing wrong with a little solitude. However, I probably would also be creeped out being the lone person at an Inn. That second picture is stunning! Looks like a wonderful place to spend some time on the bike. Enjoy!


  4. Ohhh my, oh my, you are certainly making life hard for yourself! 😀 Or better – exhilarating. “It is 200 km long but I have chosen to do only 130 of it.” Oh, you slacker! Hihihi. Seriously though, you rock so hard. And Norm as well, what a kind-hearted soul! Sing a nice Italian canzone together, will you, until you decide whether you will chat or not. 😉 Much fun and never mind other people (except Norm): you are your own best company and it’s normal to wish to have a conversation with a smart and wicked person. Happy trail!


    • At some point I often do wonder why I thought a certain activity would be a good idea 😏
      … and it’s funny you should mention singing because I was actually singing at one point on the trail. Not a canzone, but I wish it was!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Alone in the Inn, and then referring to yourself as an “underachiever” because you will cycle the full 130K in four days instead of one?! There is no way that I would be doing either of those things. You are my new hero! Have fun riding with Norm.


    • hahahaha! Oh Donna, you might be surprised. I learned a long time ago to never say never. The unexpected can sneak up on you 😉
      I would never have dreamed of having an adventure like this alone – yet here I am 🙂 The one thing that never ceases to amaze me is how powerful our minds are in convincing us that we can – or we can’t – do something.


  6. I would be talking to myself on a trip like this. Sleeping alone in an inn sound too creepy for me. I had nightmares on my first night in an inn in Belleville last week and I was with my husband. You’re amazing, Joanne.


    • It really was an extremely unsettling experience. In contrast, last night I stayed in an inn that was as equally quiet. Although there were other people in the inn, it was so quiet I might as well have been alone. But it felt different and I slept like a baby!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you 🙂

      My philosophy is that we could live a life doing nothing and then we die.
      Or we could live a life pushing the edges of our comfort level and exploring as much of our world as possible – and then we die.
      The outcome is still the same … so I might as well go bold while I can 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So great that you are doing this alone. I love how very little stops you from achieving the goals you set for yourself. I’m not a big talker but I thinking I’d be having all sorts of conversations with myself after riding alone for a while. It will be nice to have Norm with you so you have someone else to talk to (you’ve probably heard all of your stories already). Maybe the two of you will run into (not literally, of course) some interesting doors along the way!


    • This has been a pretty bold move, even for me. I always thought I COULD do something like this, but it’s very different actually doing it.
      I’m looking forward to the company on Friday. I’m sure Norm and I will have stories to tell 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. No one else was at the inn? Oh, dear. Yeah, that is a bit……creepy. Good gosh, Joanne–I had to Google the km to miles ratio. That’s a lot of km–of course, you were talking to yourself. Ha! I would say Norm is in for a real treat. Have fun.


    • Creepy doesn’t begin to cover it. I slept with my cell phone 😳

      Poor Norm – I don’t think he really understands how slow I am, although I know he will be more than willing to stop for all the photo ops we can find 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. As you keep heading south those small towns will become bigger, be more populated, and there are more of them. I’m sure that by Friday, especially with the long weekend the trail heading into St-Jerome will feel like rush hour traffic on The Don.
    If not, I’ll bring ear plugs so either way I’m not worried. In fact I’m looking forward to it 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. “I’m only doing 130 km…a distance that I once could cover in a single day.” What is this strange language that you speak, Joanne? I cannot compute these words (for myself). They make no sense! Also, my butt hurts just reading this post. 😉
    Seriously though, you go girl!


    Liked by 1 person

    • I know. I can’t believe I used to routinely ride distances over 100 km every weekend in the summer. Now I have no desire to ride like that anymore. I like poking along for short distances … and my butt still hurts anyway.

      I guess that means you won’t be joining me on any bike rides? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well….never say never is one of my mottos! I think if I could be properly fitted to a bike, my experiences with sore shoulders and butt might be minimized…well, the shoulders at least. I have tried just about everything to minimize bicycle butt – special female saddles, special gel seat cover, special padded bike shorts…nothing helps…except getting on AND STAYING ON the damn bike on the regular. 🙂


        • I’m convinced there is no such thing as a comfortable bike seat. After a couple of hours, it’s going to hurt no matter what.
          After 4 days of riding, my butt is happy I’m not on a saddle again 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh, I love hearing about this trail as it is on my list of things I would like to do. Darn, I wish I had known you were riding alone, I may have joined you! For some reason, I thought you were going with a group!


  12. Okay, being alone in the inn is a step too far. And you’ve only started talking out loud to yourself after 3 days alone? My favourite invention is Bluetooth in cars because now everyone just thinks I’m on the phone. (I’m considering wearing an earpiece whenever I’m out in public so I can keep up the charade.) I agree with Dan about the pace. Take the time to enjoy it. It looks fabulous. I’m so glad Norm is joining you for the last leg, though. You’ll be ready for some company by then.
    I don’t understand people who can’t at least share a smile with someone on a trail. It takes little effort and it would make the world an easier place to live in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m usually comfortable with my own company and I like quiet. I often talk to myself using my inside voice – but this is a little much even for me!

      Last night at the inn alone, I had to keep reminding myself that I am often alone at home when Gilles travels. I don’t particularly like it and I’m usually awake most of the night. The fact that I was not at home doesn’t really change that fact … but I still didn’t like it 😕

      … and I completely agree about people who pass you on a trail and don’t nod, smile, or anything.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh my goodness, alone in the inn? Wow. I think I’d find that pretty creepy. I might have slept on the floor in the main room…near the door.

    I normally ride alone, but I haven’t done an overnight in a long time. I wouldn’t be concerned at all about the pace, this is a time for enjoying the ride, not setting records. I’m sure Norm will enjoy the ride, and I’m impressed that you are doing it. Super impressed about staying in the inn – that’s like Wonder Woman. The pictures are great!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was definitely taken aback when I found out I would be completely alone. It was a small town and I had emergency contact numbers, but it was a very odd night!!

      I must say I really do enjoy this kind of cycling. It’s slow, I sightsee, I stop whenever I see anything interesting … but I also acknowledge I could have done more. Tomorrow will be the big test – it’s going to be the longest and most difficult day. I suspect I won’t be poking along very much.

      Liked by 1 person

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