Today dawned brilliantly sunny, but by the time I’d driven out to P17 (Wakefield, again) it had clouded over and was a chilly minus 12C.
Today I was on my own for a longer ski, starting up trail 52, past Brown Cabin. I soon encountered the uncommunicative school children that Helen and I saw yesterday. I couldn’t get a word out of any of them, though their teacher was friendly enough. I think he has a tough job. I was saddened by the gloomy looks on the faces of these kids – some of those at home in the UK would die for the opportunity to do what they are doing, and passing strangers in the UK (in Timperley, anyway) would probably receive a “Hello Mister” in response to their greeting.
After gaining the summit of the long hill that was littered with these prone, snow covered children, I emerged into an area of pristinely groomed trail. It seemed that I was the first person along it after the groomer, so it was all nicely ridged, without any trace of the usual ugly slashes caused by skate skiers. A delight to ski along.
Turning right at the junction with trail 50, and nicely warm by now (I’d succumbed to the usual cool hands earlier), I glided effortlessly down to Lac Philippe and soon passed the reason for the trail being in such excellent condition. The groomer driver smiled back. The pace slowed as the trail now had last night’s 3-4 cm of fluffy snow on its surface. I wasn’t complaining though; it was enjoyable, easy going along a trail that has often seen unexpected incidents due to ‘twigs’ and ‘leaves on the track’, both of which [for those readers in the UK] can result in falls.
Past Philippe Cabin I turned down the ungroomed trail to Lusk Cabin, one of my favourite places in the Park. It’s pictured above. Five French speakers were toasting their sandwiches on the hot stove. I added mine and chatted to one of them. My memory turned briefly to recall the legend of the lost skier of Lusk Lake, but that’s another story.
The sun reappeared, and the afternoon was another ‘blue sky’ experience.
On leaving the cabin I was surprised to see the grooming machine arrive – its first venture along this trail for some time, I suspect. So I had the pleasure of being the first person along the freshly groomed trail, all the way back to the junction with the Taylor Lake Loop. Whilst sorely tempted to ski the loop, I decided to return to P17 via the Philippe parking lot (P19) and then by trail 53, which was still not groomed, but with last night’s snow was a delight to ski down.
I like trail 53; it has pleasing sections through open country reminiscent of the CSM (Canadian Ski Marathon) route. Such sections make a welcome break from the tree lined forest roads that house most of the trails in the park. Not that I’m complaining. I enjoy them all.
Back in the trees, the route undulates and weaves to join the shorter route from Philippe, trail 51, and head up and down long straight sections for the final 4 km back to Wakefield. Not being an adrenaline junkie, I love the long, flowing downhill sections where you can just relax and glide gently downhill. It’s great.
Apart from the school children, I saw only 10-20 people on the trails today. It was very quiet. But the conditions were excellent for skiing this gentle 30+ km route in a bit less than 4 hours, excluding the long lunch break at picturesque Lusk Cabin.
Sue, who didn’t make it over here this year, would have loved this ski – I missed her more than usual today.
There will now be a break in transmission for a few days, as we set off early in the morning for a weekend at the Algonquin Eco-Lodge.