Whilst Sue joined Helen on a shopping expedition, I headed out to P3, Gamelin, which is only a 15 minute drive from Woodroffe Towers, on the eastern edge of Gatineau Park where it borders the town of Hull.
Trails 5 and 15 are generally pretty quiet due to the lack of cabins where one can tarry for lunch. Despite the warmth (-5C) this was the case today, so I enjoyed lovely undulating trails very similar to trail 3 (Burma) but without the risk of being ‘buzzed’ by skate skiers, as sometimes happens on trail 3.
After inadvertently finding the very end of trail 5 (a road), I retraced to trail 15 and followed it all the way to McKenzie-King – P6 car park. The trail was in good condition despite a paucity of grooming, apart from one easy patch of ice. It would have been harder in the other direction…. or is that a false perception that one gains after ascending steepish hills that you feel you wouldn’t want to go down, but when it actually comes to that are quite easy…?
Anyway, here’s my picnic spot. No gloves needed.
Trail 7 leads quite entertainingly from P6, soon crossing the parkway spur before heading on through undulating woodland and crossing Champlain Parkway proper.
On the way I noticed this rather seriously pecked tree – the work of a Pilated Woodpecker, I suspect.
So fascinating did I find this tree that I lost concentration and slid rather inelegantly down the camber of the track, creating the snow hole you can see to the right of the track in the following picture. The snow was deep and my skis were in a tangle. I writhed for some time before finally righting myself, completely covered in snow. It’s a shame there was nobody else there to share in the entertainment.
With a final flourish, trail 7 dips and twists and rises to end at Gatineau Parkway. The final 7-8km of today’s 24km ski was along the wide parkway, which had been well groomed with double tracks.
The highlight of the route back to P3 is Pink Lake, which is green. (White today.) The lake is actually named after the Pink family, who settled there in the 1830’s. It’s a scenic spot with a walkway all around it and a number of viewing platforms. In summer, quite different from this scene.
It’s a lovely long descent from Pink Lake – the GPS registered 24kph for quite some distance – such long relaxing glides are a raison d'être for cross-country skiing.
Eventually, as Gamelin draws nearer, the skyline of Ottawa’s city centre seems very close.
Here’s a wider angle from the same spot.
So that was 24km, with about 650 metres ascent, in a shade under four hours. A very enjoyable excursion, marred only by the skinning of my remaining good heel.
The weekly YCCC (Canoe Club) evening trip cannot involve canoeing at this time of year, so they go skiing instead. Ken organised these evening skis for many years, but has now handed over to Paul, who kindly collected Helen and me, whilst Ken, a fitness fanatic, dashed off to the gym for more training.
P10 car park was pretty full. Night skiing is a popular pastime. Lots of folk were heading up Fortune Parkway in their own little pools of light. Some of us needed no torch (or flashlight, as they call torches over here, ‘Petzl’ not yet having acquired the status of ‘Hoover’ or ‘Biro’ or ‘Primus’), as despite the lack of a moon there was plenty of ambient light from nearby Camp Fortune.
There were seven in our group, including a Crook who, on arriving at Huron Cabin, proceeded to consume the contents of an average sized ‘deli’ whilst dazzling other visitors with his Petzl. Thanks, Tim, the cheese was delicious.
Surprisingly, after this obscene bout of indulgence, we all managed to glide safely back down the parkway to P10. Even more surprisingly (since Huron Cabin had been full), I saw nobody on that journey, other than a few latecomers heading up the hill.
It was brilliant to be out on the trails, albeit easy ones, at night, and this 10km trip made for a most pleasurable couple of hours.