Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Sunday 1 February 2009 – A Black Diamond Day

First, a return to yesterday.

As we ascended Fortune Parkway to the #3 turn it was clear that the day would produce some good images, hence the ‘Christmas Card’ alliteration. The trees were laden with recent snowfall and with hoar frost, under a clear blue sky. It was beautiful, as can be seen from the image above.

Trail 3, the Burma Road was in fine condition. The trail joins the Parkway after a long hill, the site of my favourite piece of video yet!

It was Saturday, so we did of course meet someone Ken and Helen knew; today it was Sarah and Jim, the former also training for the Canadian Ski Marathon Coureur des Bois Gold award and sporting a fully laden GoLite Pursuit rucksack. Very smart in comparison with the Berghaus Cyclops that Ken insists on carrying everywhere, but the old Berghaus sac may be both bigger and lighter than GoLite’s current model.

A skating party on the Rideau Canal followed. The canal is in effect the biggest skating rink in the world, and attracts many people to Ottawa, as well as appealing to the locals. It’s probably a better known winter attraction than the 200 km of cross-country ski trails in Gatineau Park.

As my daughter will testify, I’m not so hot at skating, so whilst the others glided down the rutted ice of the canal from Fifth Avenue to the new Somerset Street footbridge, I stayed firmly on dry land and covered the same route, in the same time, by strolling along the footpath beside the canal. It was dark, and I would not have stayed upright on the rutted ice of the canal.

Here’s a daytime view of the canal, from an earlier visit.

The event was a Canoe Club party, hosted annually by Catherine, who lives very close to the canal.

After enjoying beavertails, the traditional fayre of the Rideau Canal – deep fried wholemeal dough coated in sugar and cinnamon, a sort of flat doughnut - about 30 of us adjourned to her spacious house for a most amenable evening. Sadly one person had failed to negotiate the ice and turned up heavily bandaged. Apparently that is an annual feature of this gathering! I was glad to have kept to the pavement.

Anyway, tales were swapped, new friends were made, and lots of good food was tasted – everyone brings their own contribution. We succeeded in identifying the mystery ingredient in Jane’s chicken chilli (chocolate), for which the prize was – you guessed it - before being whisked back to Woodroffe Towers for the Sleep of the Just.

Sunday dawned cloudy, and after yesterday’s glorious sunshine we used our cameras less today. We did venture on new trails (for this trip), though – starting from Wakefield (P17) we headed up #52 towards Herridge Cabin. Hordes of folk were coming the other way, laden with rucksacks, sledges and small children. Someone must have been partying in Brown Cabin last night.

Trail 52 is quite a pull, so we warmed up well as we ascended nearly 200 metres before gliding down to trail 30. Had Helen been with us we would have turned left for lunch at Herridge and returned by the same route – a fine 20km ski. She wasn’t with us, so in the absence of her wisdom we headed right to Lac Philippe and along the black diamond trail 54. It’s about 4km to Lusk Cabin from here.

The trail was ideal.

For snowshoeing.

A snowshoer soon passed us. More followed. Deep snow, a narrow path, and some steep ascents all hampered our progress.

We had to take off our skis for certain sections. It was a relatively warm day – at around -4°C it was 'very sweaty' – but in these conditions the ski bindings easily ice up when the skis are removed. So they wouldn’t go back on, even when the trail levelled.

We reached the edge of Lac Lusk. The snowshoers were a distant memory.

“Let’s go across the lake” said Ken, after repairing all the skis with a Swiss Army knife gadget for removing stones from horses’ hooves, “it’s a short cut to the Cabin”. I think he was trying to boost his ascent/descent statistics, as his little computery gadget would not recognise our ability to walk on water, but would home in on a spot height (depth?) at the bottom of the lake!

Whilst skiing across frozen lakes is sometimes a good idea, and can be quick, I thought ‘that snow looks deep’, and lagged behind. Sue and Ken dashed keenly on….for about 100 metres. It was very hard going, what with a good 18 inches of fresh snow to pack down with each stride.

Snowshoes 2 Skis 0

Those who view our tracks across the lake, which will remain there for some time, may ponder The Legend of the Lost Skier of Lusk Lake, though when we finally made it to Lusk Cabin we found a new visitors book, so our rendering of this fine tale on a previous visit is now only to be seen in the Visitors Centre in Chelsea.

So, after turning around and enjoying the pleasant final section of black diamond trail 54, we reached Lusk Cabin 1 hour 35 minutes after setting off on that 4km trail. Then we discovered the fire had only just been lit, so it took another 30 minutes to toast our sandwiches. We took a few photos to pass the time.

A sociable hour was spent in the cabin – the inevitable acquaintance of Ken turned up - before returning by the easiest possible route to Wakefield, via Lac Philippe and trails 50, 51 and 53, getting back to base just in time to ponce ourselves up for Helen’s superb Sunday dinner, in the presence of Royalty (her mum) and the sad absence of the other three quarters of an Australian lamb.

Today’s energetic 26km took from 10.30 to 15.30, including an hour for lunch at Lusk Cabin.

Sue, bringing up the rear for a change, was (for one) delighted to get back to Wakefield...

We’re having a rest tomorrow (actually it’s tomorrow today and we’ve already had it) so you will be spared even more of my verbosity for a while.


Gayle said...

Spared more verbosity? I had missed yesterday's installment - glad that it made a (tardy) appearance.

I could have done with some snowshoes to get to the woodshed last night (I may, perhaps, exaggerate a touch), but in the manner of Midlands snow (and contrary to the media hype), much of it disappeared overnight.

forest wisdom said...

Ha! Great video clip. Very stylish indeed! Your continuing account of this amazing Canadian winter vacation continues to make me quite envious.


Phreerunner said...

Hi Gayle, FW
It's always difficult to decide whether to 'just let it go', when getting behind with the blog, but it's a good way of recording what happened. I do (like most bloggers) actually try to make the entries reasonably concise and entertaining, but I know I don't always succeed. I also know that my mother reads the blog (I don't think she has worked out how to look at comments!), and I think she does appreciate all the words. So that justifies any verbosity. Others have busy working lives and will just quickly scan any long entries (eg this comment). That's just the way it is. Whilst out of curiosity I keep an eye on visitor demographics, I don't aim for a wide readership, though it's nice to know some folk out there enjoy browsing what I can only reiterate is an indulgence. It's a reciprocal thing - I enjoy reading the blogs of most of the people who make comments on these pages. Especially yours.