Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Friday, 15 February 2019

Thursday 14 February 2019 - Trail 36

Ken stayed at home, resting in preparation for the Gatineau Loppet. That was a shame for him, as today's skiing conditions were top notch.
Sue, Helen and I headed to P11 (O'Brien), where we met Maryanne before taking to trail 36. This is a slightly technical trail, made very easy today by the freshly groomed deep snow. It was a delightful outing.
The top two pictures were taken early on the trail, which undulates beside Lac Meech. At a junction you can turn left down to a beach where there's a bench. (Third picture.)
Soon after that, trail 50 is joined for the final few km to Healey cabin, where we lunched in the warmth of the wood burning stove. It was warm enough to spend some time outside trying to photograph the birds on the feeder. Those photos will follow. This camera failed to capture the birds, but a squirrel did oblige.

It was then a pleasurable ski back to P11. Lots of people out today, all enjoying the perfect conditions.

Today's route:
P11 > #36 > #50 > Healey cabin > #50 > #36 > P11. 22.8 km.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Snow Day

The predicted snow arrived. About a foot of it. Not a good idea to go out in the car, so we've enjoyed a rest day with a little wander in our snowshoes by the Rideau River.

The walk was slow going as even with snowshoes we were effectively post holing to the depth of a foot, down to where a path had previously been trodden. Either side of that the snow was much deeper. 

Various small birds were chattering away on this warmer day (only about minus 5°C), but it was a pair of Piliated Woodpeckers that caught our attention. These are crow sized birds, much bigger than the Hairy and Downy varieties that we see on the feeders in Gatineau Park. Unfortunately I didn't have my decent camera with me, so no Piliated picture, but I have included a picture of a Downy Woodpecker taken by Sue the other day. It's about the size of a greenfinch.

Later, Ken went out on some errands and found Ottawa to be empty. Most folk have stayed at home today. There's a misconception that whilst the UK struggles with any snow at all, places like this carry on as normal in snowstorms. That's not the case. Driving is easier here as the roads are ploughed, and winter tyres are the norm. But heavy snow like today's brings many activities to a halt, and those with any sense stay at home.

Today's second picture shows our driveway after the road was ploughed (by the city plough) and the driveway was cleared soon afterwards by a private contractor who follows behind the city plough and clears all the snow for a separate annual fee for those who want that service. Otherwise you have to clear the ploughed snow as well as that in your driveway before you can get out.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Tuesday 12 February 2019 - Fat Bikes from Wakefield

With heavy snow forecast for this afternoon, Sue, Ken and I decided on a morning outing. We hired some Fat Bikes from Expéditions Wakefield and cycled up to P17 car park, from where mountain bikers and snowshoers can share some excellent woodland trails that undulate up to Healey cabin. 

It was bitterly cold - minus 17°C plus the chill from an icy wind. My hands required activated charcoal warmers, and even with those it was a good half hour before they warmed up. My battery operated mitts aren't really suitable for this activity.

We only had the bikes for the morning so we didn't make it all the way to Healey, but we did get to a nice spot by Lac Carman, where the bottom two pictures were taken. 

Our toes were a little chilled, but despite this the outing was a great success. If I lived here I might buy a Fat Bike for winter mountain biking. I believe there are many suitable trails. The conditions today, apart from the cold, were perfect. It was great fun on the firm undulating trail. A narrow trail that traps the unwary, as both Sue and Ken discovered when they veered off the straight and narrow.

This afternoon it snowed.

Monday 11 February 2019 - A Parkway Circuit

With Ken and Helen otherwise engaged, Sue and I headed off in Ken's Impreza to P8 (Chelsea) on another brilliantly sunny day.

The Parkway tracks are easy, with long ascents and descents. Good for a workout. But with no race to train for this year, we took this classic circuit relatively easily today.

The ice curtains on Champlain Parkway (second and third pictures) were as impressive as ever, and the view at Champlain Lookout (fourth picture) was as clear as we've seen it.

The lunch time rush at Huron cabin was over by the time we got there after 1.30pm. This cabin was purpose built on the site of an old homestead at the time the Parkway roads in Gatineau Park were built as a 'make work' project back in the 1940s.

A lone red squirrel was feasting on the debris from Downy Woodpeckers and Chickadees on the bird feeder.

It was a chilly but fast descent to trail 32, which links Fortune Parkway with Gatineau Parkway, then an enjoyable slide on the struggling remnants of our blue wax for the final few km back to P8.

Today's route:
P8 > Gatineau Parkway > Champlain Parkway > Champlain Lookout > #1 (Ridge Road) > Huron cabin (lunch) > #1 > Khyber Pass > Gossips Corner > Fortune Parkway > #32 > Gatineau Parkway > P8. 25.4km.

Another excellent outing in great conditions.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Sunday 10 February 2019 - Lac Philippe

While Ken went for a run, Sue, Helen and I planned a ski from P17 (Wakefield). But the consequence of our lie in was a full car park on this lovely sunny day. So we went to P19 and skied about 6km to the eastern end of Lac Philippe, where the top photo was taken.

Going was slow, as we were practicing the techniques taught to us yesterday by Françoise. I soon discovered a problem relating to the lifting of the passive ski to prevent it acting as a brake. I don't need it as a brake, but it's pretty essential as a stabiliser. 

We returned alongside the lake, diverting to Renaud cabin for lunch. As to be expected, it was pretty busy. The bottom three pictures were taken here. It's a fairly new and very modern cabin. Below the bird feeder was a very active convention of twenty or more red squirrels. A search of these pages for 'Renaud' should reveal pictures of the old cabin that was demolished. 

All three of us skied back to P19, from where Helen drove to P17 (now with spaces) whilst Sue and I took the trail 51/53 route to that car park - which like many places today doubled as an ice rink. Temperatures were around minus 10°C, plus a fair amount of wind chill.

Back at home by 3.30 (long days out are not particularly desirable in the low temperatures) after another enjoyable outing:
P19 > #50 > end of Lac Philippe > #50 > Renaud cabin (lunch) > #50 > P19 > #51 > #53 > P17. 19.3km.

Saturday 9 February 2019 - Orleans parkrun Number 16

Today, Susan and Roy went home to Connecticut, whilst Sue, Ken and I ventured out to an icy suburb of Ottawa to savour their parkrun, which only started in the autumn. The icy trail had been groomed for most of its length and conditions were much faster than last week's at Kanata.

We weren't the only tourists today. There was a chap from Kentucky, an area not renowned for parkruns. He looked a bit bemused - his planned visit to New Orleans may have gone astray?

The photos are all from the parkrun. The run directors over here seem intent on photographing us with the Canadian flag. We must try and get hold of a European Union flag for our next run.

Full results are here:

No pictures from this afternoon, but the blue skies continued as we drove to P6, McKenzie-King car park, for a couple of hours (or more) x-c ski tuition from Françoise. We learnt a lot, but for me, trying to put it into practice after nearly twenty years of 'poor technique' may be somewhat difficult. At least Françoise was happy with my double poling technique, which is a crumb of comfort!

We covered 10km in distance on a section of track of about 100 metres!

Friday, 8 February 2019

Snowshoes on The Wolf Trail

We've brought our snowshoes so we may as well use them!

Susan and Roy planned this excursion, and Sue, Ken and I decided to tag along for a pleasant morning, mainly in the woodland of Gatineau Park. 

The #62 trail is about 8.5km in length, starting from P13 at the very end of Meech Lake. It rises about 300 metres from the lake, generating good views from the vicinity of Ridge Road (#1) over the frozen expanses of the Ottawa River.

Beyond the high point of the walk is a short 'there and back' to a viewpoint. Today that was frozen over in the form of an ice cap surrounded by precipices.  Just as well that our snowshoes are equipped with on-board crampons.

Today's pictures are shown in the order they were taken, starting with the car park in a snow storm and culminating with my four companions on the frozen ice cap.

It was quite warm, just below freezing, today and skiing conditions wouldn't have matched yesterday's superlatives. So snow shoeing was a good option. Our two and a half hour walk finished at 1pm, when we adjourned to Palmier café in Chelsea for a well earned lunch.

We'd not been to P13 before, as there are no ski trails that start from there, so it was new ground at the end of a rough road. The Wolf Trail used to be a ski trail - Ken has skied it in the past - but the authorities now seem it to be too difficult for skiers, though it's easy on snow shoes. Indeed, there were a few runners out today, managing fine with trail shoes and yaktrak crampons. Thanks to snowshoers like us, the track was well compacted. 

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Thursday 7 February 2019 - A Trip to Three Cabins

On a warmer day, only about minus 6°C, Ken, Sue and I headed to P10 car park at the foot of the big hill on Fortune Parkway.

The trails were all freshly groomed, and relatively quiet. That's partly due to the 160km Canadian Ski Marathon being held this coming weekend. The many participants will be resting today. We are not attempting the marathon this year.

Ken and Sue had to keep waiting for me; I'm very slow on the skis at present. So they had plenty of time to watch the birds on the feeder at Shilly Shally cabin (top picture). After noting some Evening Grosbeaks outside Healey cabin yesterday, we spotted a Brown Creeper outside Shilly Shally today.

Moving on, we passed Huron cabin (second picture) before continuing on to Western cabin for lunch. This cabin is on the edge of the escarpment. The final three pictures were taken here - outside, inside, and the view from a window. 

Most of our skiing starts from the back of the escarpment and involves quite a bit of climbing to the undulating trails that we can enjoy once the height has been gained. At the end of each outing there's usually a thrilling downhill section to negotiate. Great fun!

I'll make a note to do a posting about the cabins of Gatineau Park. Many of them are former farm houses; some such as Shilly Shally are much smaller, perhaps having been used as gamekeeper cottages. Why were there farmhouses in this area of forest? Apparently this, like much of Canada, was a forested region. In the late 19th century the forest was cleared and replaced by subsistence farming. Many cabins are named after the families who formerly farmed the area. Farming proved a tough occupation in the rocky environment with poor soil. 

The farms were gradually abandoned in the mid 20th century, since when the forest has grown back. More recently, the abandoned farms have been converted to some of the cabins that are our luncheon venues. Most cabins aren't equipped for overnight stays.

Today's route:
P10 > Fortune Parkway > #1 (Ridge Road) > Shilly Shally cabin > Khyber Pass > Huron cabin > #1 > #1B > #2 > Western cabin (lunch) > #2 > #1 > #3 (Burma Road) > Fortune Parkway > P10. 17.8km.

Burma Road was notable for the attention afforded to trackside trees by beavers, who appear to be setting up their own logging business. 

That's all for now. We were home by 3pm, and soon afterwards Susan and Roy arrived to cook dinner for us.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Wednesday 6 February 2019 - A Trip down Trail 50

Today was a cold minus 11°C, and our 19km ski was accompanied by snow flurries of varying intensity throughout.
The four of us met up with Susan and Roy at P16 car park, the surface of which, under an inch of snow, would have made any skating rink owner jealous.

The trail was quiet, but our sojourn for lunch at Healey Cabin was enlivened by the presence of half a dozen young children on an 'away afternoon' from their home schooling. 

Luckily the trails were free of ice following overnight grooming, and the going was slow but easy. The final hill down to P16, which can be tricky in icy conditions, was a delight. 

On the feeder at Healey were Blue Jays, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, and a couple of female Pine Grosbeaks. Red squirrels darted back and forth beneath the feeder and the trees. That follows a bit of excitement at home in Ottawa yesterday, when a swarm of Pine Grosbeaks, American Goldfinches and Purple Finches, all appeared in the garden. They were sent scurrying for safety when a Sharp-shinned Hawk landed in the ornamental cherry tree that was being stripped of its berries. We've also seen a flock of Wild Turkeys by the roadside.

Today's route:
P16 (Pine Road) > #50 > Healey Cabin (lunch) > junction with #52 > return on #50 to P16. 19km. Back at home by 3pm, after a 9.30 start from home. (It's an hour's drive each way.)

The top picture shows Sue, Susan, Roy, Ken and Helen, shortly after leaving P16 in a flurry of snow. Beneath it is a male Pine Grosbeak, taken yesterday in the garden.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Tuesday 5 February 2019 - Beside the Rideau River

Overnight rain made the chances of successful skiing in Gatineau Park remote. So the four of us enjoyed a short (4km) stroll beside the river, where all today's snaps were taken.

It's very icy outside now that the brief thaw is over and the temperature has turned negative again.

Very cosy at home, where our 'beach holiday' continues.

Monday, 4 February 2019

On the Beach

Today's freezing rain somewhat curtailed activities, but this is, after all, our annual beach holiday. So Sue and I went down to the beach at Mooney's Bay. 

Three and a bit laps of the 'track' came to just over 10km - sufficient for us to return home feeling well exercised. Ken stayed on to do some 'hill work' whatever that might be. Apparently the lifeguards had been given the day off - as you can see from the picture, their chairs were vacant.

Helen's exercise involved a bit of baking, and we are looking forward to hosting Susan and Roy for a nice meal tonight.


Time: 19.34
Indoor Temperature: 23.4°C
Humidity: 35%
Outside temperature: - 100°C

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Sunday 3 February 2019 - A Trip to Lusk Cabin, and the Taylor Lake Loop

Ken went for a 12.5km run. Sue, Helen and I went to P19 (Lac Philippe) for a 22km ski to Lusk Cabin for lunch, returning via the Taylor Lake Loop. Helen probably did about 19km after taking account of to and fro distances taken by me and Sue. We ski a little faster than H.

Only minus 10°C today so no need for my electric gloves that came in handy on Friday. However, it did snow on us for most of the outing, turning to freezing rain just as we finished at around 3pm.

Susan and Roy joined us for the trail 54 section to Lusk and back. They are staying in Chelsea and turned up at Ken and Helen's house (where we stay) yesterday for afternoon tea. That drifted into a ski renovation session for them under Ken's tutelage, then dinner at the pub.

Today's route, for the record:
P19 > #50 > #55 > #54 > Lusk Cabin > #54 > #55 > Taylor Lake Loop > #50 > P19. 22km.

Top picture: Sue, Roy and Susan outside Lusk Cabin.
Middle picture: leaving Lusk.
Bottom picture: by Taylor Lake.

Whilst the car parks were full today, most people were sticking to the easy 'parkway' trails, so the trail to Lusk, and the Taylor Lake Loop, both of which were in excellent condition, were quiet, though I did manage to rather amusingly wipe out in front of a group on the trail to Lusk.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Saturday 2 February 2019 - Kanata parkrun number 68

Whilst Ken went off to do a winter triathlon (skate/run/ski), Helen, Sue and I went to Kanata for the parkrun. It was snowy, with a cold wind, and minus 12°C before accounting for wind chill.

The 5km course was mainly 'single track'. The briefing mentioned this, and I was inclined to think 'so what', as it was easy enough when we did it last year. 

However, it was two laps of a there and back course, so the other runners, not to mention dog walkers, had to be negotiated several times. It was hard enough without such obstacles. Every time I picked up speed I risked veering from the straight and very narrow, and plunging into deep snow, which is what you had to do anyway every time you encountered the aforementioned obstacles.

It was actually great fun, and we soon warmed up. I managed my highest parkrun position ever, which wasn't all that surprising as there were only seven participants. Interestingly, one of them was Sally Pate, who had been at the same parkrun as me on Christmas Day - Wilmslow - it's a small world!

Virtually all the runners and volunteers adjourned to a nearby café, so it was the same sort of sociable morning as we customarily enjoy at Wythenshawe. 

The results are here:

It's still snowing hard, so no skiing today.