The CSM, or Canadian Ski Marathon, takes place at this time every year. This is its 43rd consecutive year. Quite an institution.
Sue and I usually join Helen and another friend, Michael, and make up a mixed touring team. In 2007 we completed 23 sections (out of 32 that year) and actually managed to win a bronze medal in our category! That year the course was altered due to a paucity of snow. This year there is plenty of the white stuff, so the course is the more usual 10 sections, 5 each day, over the coming weekend, heading over 160km of trails from Lachute to Buckingham (over the river in Quebec).
So we leave after lunch today to install ourselves at the half way point and overnight halt on Saturday - for us a small hotel in Montebello.
Ken will be trying to do the whole course, with a rucksack, bivviing overnight with the Coureur des Bois Gold contingent - around 100 of them.
We will be amongst the 2000 or so 'others', starting from different places at different times, most of us just aiming to complete part of the course.
Whilst Helen will be content to do one section each day, Sue and I aim to do the last two sections on the first day (38km) and the first three sections of the second day (49km). We are not expert enough to do the middle (3rd) section of the first day, so that hampers our ability to treat this event as a real challenge, but it does provide an excellent opportunity to ski trails across private land that are available only to CSM competitors. Michael will probably do 6 or 7 sections - he's quite expert.
The possible downside to all this is that following the three weeks of superb skiing weather we've had in Gatineau Park, the forecast for the weekend is dire. Rain is forecast for Saturday afternoon, then a moderate night, and then warm again on Sunday. That means it'll be icy, so we will be doing quite a bit of walking on the gradients.
Ho hum - it may be more of a challenge than we were anticipating, or we could reduce our aspirations. Waxing is likely to be quite interesting, with horrible gooey wax being needed in the warm conditions. Some may even choose waxless skis, normally very slow but suited to these conditions. We have no choice though. At least our hands should stay warm!
Regardless, it is unlikely to be as exciting as my first attempt at this marathon, in 2004, starting in the other direction. The report on that is recorded for posterity here. This will be my 5th attempt, and Sue's 3rd, and we don't plan to repeat an earlier performance in which various bits of my kit were destroyed in a fall - but the broken kit did save me from a broken hip!
Don't expect much of a photographic record! The cameras will be placed under tight security in the middle of our bags!
This will be the last posting until Monday, at least, when an interim report on this year's experience of the CSM will be posted, before the composition of a fuller document, perhaps on the flight home - so ciao until then. Hopefully 'summitboy' (Ken) will also post a report.