Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Friday 16 January 2009 – Deep Freeze in Ottawa

Sue and Helen on Bate Island on Friday morning

Our journey here yesterday was wholly uneventful, unless you regard an encounter with Bobby Charlton, who failed to recognise me despite my having spent many hours on the terraces of Old Trafford in full view of him, as an event.

It was quite a long day, during which we conspired, so far as I can recall, to enjoy at least five meals.

After hitting the sack at 10pm we managed to sleep soundly until 7am; so there is no jet lag on this occasion.

It dawned bright and sunny. But cold. It’s between about -20 and -30°C here, so just a bit chilly. We had already decided not to ski today, so a trip to the Visitor Centre to collect my ski pass (we have enough vouchers for Sue not to need one) was all that was on the agenda. On the way we passed an accident. Apparently the salt doesn’t work below -20°C. I’m told there were 175 recorded accidents in Ottawa yesterday.

The Ottawa River is only partially frozen. The current cold snap is the first of the winter, so the river is still flowing strongly. In this weather a local fog arises from the river, so at places like Bate Island, where we paused this morning, the trees are encrusted with the soft hoar of the frosted vapour.

Bate Island is accessed from a bridge over the Ottawa River, linking Ontario, where we are staying, with Quebec, where our skiing area – Gatineau Park – is situated. I wonder which district Bate Island is in?

Later, a short stroll from Woodroffe Towers drew us back down to the river on a ‘dog walker’s’ circuit in brilliant sunshine, but in temperatures that served to confirm the efficacy of the local frostbite warning.

A lone skier had appeared to produce this furrow, but it is probably the groove of many folk, taking their exercise in single file....

Meanwhile, 'Crazy Ken' was unable to join us today due to having to go to work. He is making up for it by camping out in Gatineau Park tonight, together with a couple of crazy mates. Well, they are not actually camping, just bivvying. It'll be interesting to see how cold it/they get(s)!

Good luck Ken. Please report back on your experience.


Alistair said...

Real snow! How I long for real snow. All we get is rain and gales! You lucky lucky people (as said in Mony Python)

Phreerunner said...

Yes, there is any amount of real snow here. The challenge may be to post a 'card' without any snow in view. And it does snow at -25C, as demonstrated by the further 1cm that landed overnight.
We trust that Ken is cosy in his snowed up bivvy bag!

summitboy said...

Actually it got down to about -35C (hard to tell since my thermometer only reads down to -30C). The purpose of the trip was to try out our gear for the Canadian Ski Marathon Coureur des Bois Or, which involves skiing 80km, camping overnight, then skiing another 80km. So you need to get your backpack down to a manageable weight but without being too cold at night. I discovered a few things:
- I need to make a few adjustments to my kit.
- It was too crowded in my sleeping bag with ski boots, booties, over mitts, water bottle, pee bottle, midnight snacks, phone; hardly enough room for me. I am average size but my "large" bag wasn't big enough. How do "Clydesdales" cope? I had to get rid of the ski boots and put boot warmers in them in the morning.
- At low temperatures: duct tape and foot warmers are not sticky; Thermarests do not self-inflate, unless you blow into it really hard (when you close the valve it then freezes shut); Ziploc bags do not open easily and when they do they tear; peanut butter freezes
- After you have been sitting round a smoky campfire, you smell like a kipper...


summitboy said...

FYI: Bate Island is in Ottawa, Ontario rather than Gatineau, Quebec (according to MapQuest)

Phreerunner said...

Thanks, 'Summitboy', it's nice to know something productive and informative is going on at the other end of the living room!!!