Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Monday 19 January 2009 – A Medley of Trails

Today it was overcast again, with snow flurries but occasional glimpses of blue sky. It was a balmy -10°C in the Park. Perfect for skiing.

So whilst the whole of yesterday’s run had been along #(Trail)50, today we enjoyed a medley of trails. We started again up Fortune Parkway from P10. This is a ‘green’ trail, suitable for novices, and is generally very well (and frequently) groomed. It’s a ‘dual carriageway’ for skiers, with up and down ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ lanes either side of a central area that is mainly the domain of ‘skate skiers’. These skate skiers use shorter skis and a different technique, and are mainly folk out for energetic bursts of exercise. (Joggers.) Our preference is for the longer ‘classic’ skis. We travel more slowly but generally for longer, and maybe sometimes further, than the skate skiers. We are the equivalent of ‘day walkers’.

About 2km up the Parkway a right turn leads up #3, a blue trail, known as the Burma Road. Blue trails are harder than green ones, and on our last visit, two years ago, this trail was too icy for us to feel confident enough to tackle. In the past we have always approached it from the other direction, but today’s superb conditions meant that the steep ascent, which two years ago was dangerously icy, was really very easy to overcome, as illustrated above.

It’s steeper than it looks. Here Sue catches her breath after 'herringboning' up the hill.

An hour later, after many pauses for Sue to attend to a sore ankle, we reached #1 near Huron cabin. We’d only met a handful of people on the Burma Road, a delightful ski despite the ankle problem.

We decided to visit Western Cabin, which sits on top of the escarpment overlooking the Ottawa valley, for lunch. On the way we came across #9, freshly groomed. This is a ‘black diamond’ trail, the hardest variety of the marked x-country ski trails, barred to skate skiers. They are narrow, twisty and undulating. A basic level of skill is handy in order to avoid frequent tumbles on these trails, albeit usually painlessly into soft snow. (Not having many basic skills, I've been there, often.) We didn’t attempt a single such trail on our last visit two years ago.

We couldn’t resist #9 today. Off we went along the short 700 metre section to Western cabin, and for the first time in my life (I think) I managed to stay upright down the final luge that dips and twists and dives down to the main trail and the cabin beyond.

It was great.

As was lunch in the cabin. Three folk left as we arrived. They had got the stove really hot – it was belting out heat. Sue has a cool extremity that benefits from such gadgets.

We had the cabin to ourselves this Monday morning – what a contrast to yesterday’s hubbub at Healey cabin!

Our return to the car was via #2, #1B, Champlain Parkway via the lookout, to Huron, #1 down the Khyber Pass, to finally gently descend down Fortune Parkway and back to the car.

The trail known as #1B is very pleasant; especially so today, as we encountered a Pileated Woodpecker, a crow sized monster of a woodpecker, laying in to the trunk of a huge tree, far above us. We had the wrong camera for a good picture – this was the best I could manage. A video is ‘reserved for later’!

Today's 18km trip took us from 10.25 to 13.55, including 45+ minutes of breaks.

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