Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Friday, 14 February 2014

Friday 14 February 2014 – Retail Therapy

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We were planning to ski today, but waking to 10+ cm of fresh snow, with more coming down, we decided to leave that plan in favour of our annual visit to MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op), where a few worn out items, but not Sue’s Paclite trousers, were replaced.

Bridgehead, vouchers courtesy of Helen, provided coffee, and after lunch at home, Sue and I decided to break trail down by the river. We’d brought our snow shoes all the way from Timperley. With 15+ cm of fresh snow, now was the chance to use them.

It’s just a 5 km stroll, but good fun nevertheless and quite warm in the snowy weather. Sue romped ahead looking very proud of her technique.

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But sometimes putting one foot in front of another can be tricky, even for a would be paralympic athlete!

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So she went home and iced a cake.

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Thursday 13 February 2014 – Rideau River and Canal

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After six days’ skiing I fancied a rest.

Skyping with Kate, Jacob, Jessica and Oscar provided an entertaining start to the day.

Later I went with Helen for a potter alongside the river (below), whilst Sue caught up with some work. Some of the trees had been seriously dented by woodpeckers, but only chickadees, squirrels and crows were in evidence today.

It was sunny-ish, with a uniform sort of light blue tinge to the day, and around minus 15C.

Warm enough for a quick excursion after lunch to the Rideau Canal, which is more or less next to the river, and is pictured above. It was good to see the British Paralympic team honing their skills on the world’s largest ice rink.

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We have better pictures of the canal on a sunnier day, so this brief entry from our relaxing ‘beach holiday’ is just to remind readers that we are alive and enjoying the excellent Canadian weather and snow/beach conditions.

We hope you survived the winds at home, reports and warnings of which were no doubt exaggerated as usual.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Wednesday 12 February 2014 – O’Brien and Meech Lake

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Wednesday: Helen’s downhill ski lesson. So she dropped Sue and me at P11 – O’Brien – car park, from where trail 36 leads over a narrow undulating track with great tit like chickadees, sparrow sized woodpeckers and pigeon sized robins (or so it seems) to eventually reach the easy trail 50 to Herridge Cabin.

We turned around at the junction with trail 50, and then headed to Lac Meech for a cuppa. Considering we had woken to minus 24C, and set off skiing at minus 18C, it was a bit of a surprise to be able to lounge here in the sunshine without feeling cold.

Then it was back down the easy luges of trail 36, meeting a grooming machine whose fresh tracks had been obliterated by a snowmobile, and across the road to the steep trail that joins Fortune Parkway. I went very slowly up here as my wax seemed to have vanished and Sue was far ahead with the waxing kit. But she waited at the turn down trail 9, pictured below, which proved an interesting route to Camp Fortune to reunite ourselves with Helen and get some lunch after quite a strenuous 20 km on the skis, finishing with a very steep ascent and descent before Sue wiped out on the flat, much to the amusement of the occupants of the chairlift passing above her.

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Tonight we enjoyed the company of Michael, who appears annually on these pages. Sadly he was unable to complete the ski marathon last weekend due to his lack of training, managing ‘only’ about 135 km of the 180 km course. Next year, perhaps.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Tuesday 11 February 2014 – Gatineau Park East

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Today Sue and I headed off to P3, the car park at Gamelin, on the eastern edge of Gatineau Park. There are no cabins in this area, so we enjoyed a 21 km outing around the eastern trails, finishing at lunch time.

The trails in this part of the park are great, especially luge like trail 15 that is reached via trail 5, pictured below.

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Our route today was based on the course to be taken by Saturday’s 27 km Loppet, give or take its warm up loop and a few other minor adjustments. We’ve decided not to take part in any of the races this year, for a variety of reasons – costs, crowds, fitness, etc.

We paused at P6 (McKenzie-King) for a cuppa and for Sue to re-wax her skis. Luckily the temperature had risen slightly from this morning’s minus 20C, but not by all that much.

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Returning initially along trail 7, then Gatineau Parkway, despite Sue’s bid for freedom in the direction of Huron Cabin, we passed Pink Lake and headed on towards the outskirts of town.

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There weren’t many people out today, possibly due to the cool temperatures, but we managed to stay warm, although we later failed to pay a visit to the Rideau Canal (a national treasure and World Heritage site – the largest skating area in the world - which we pass every day) due to my incompetence with driving in Ottawa and our inability to find somewhere to park. Never mind.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Monday 10 February 2014 – A Sunny Circuit from Chelsea

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Whilst Ken went to work, and Sue and Helen ventured into Chelsea’s exclusive spa, I started my ski from P8 – the car park in Chelsea, after dropping off the two lazies.

Warming up on the Gatineau Parkway to P9, then slightly more energetically up Fortune Parkway, I found myself at the tempting start of trail 3, the Burma Road, a favourite, especially in this year’s superb conditions.

I headed on up the Burma Road, pictured above and below, encountering just one person before reaching Ridge Road.

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To reach Ridge Road, I took the easy back country short cut along trail 9. We don’t ski many of these back country trails. They are a bit hard for us. But this one is enjoyable, and relatively easy, albeit I did wipe out a couple of times, unable to curb my speed on steep twisty descents across bumpy ground.

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Good fun though.

I reached Ridge Road shortly after the grooming machine had passed by. It was closely followed by the skate skier shown below, who rather inconsiderately and annoyingly was skiing over the freshly laid ‘classic’ trail, making the tracks somewhat lumpy.

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Anyway, it was a lovely day, at around minus 10C not too cold, and after enjoying the trail 24 loop, and 1B, I reached Huron Cabin at around 1 pm. The fire was glowing red hot so my sandwich toasted in no time.

Then it was down the parkways to rejoin Ridge Road near Keogan cabin and follow it down to Gatineau Parkway, from where a quick ‘there and back’ towards P9 took my mileage for the day up to 30 km, and the time to a point at which I wouldn’t have too long too wait for Helen and Sue back at the spa, where apparently Dot had paid for their lunch. Up to that point I’d had no idea that my mother was on this trip!

PS Commiserations to Kate, who didn’t get the job. In fact, nobody got it.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Sunday 9 February 2014 – A Visit to Lusk Cabin

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A holiday in Ottawa wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Lusk Cabin, which overlooks Lusk Lake, the scene of a Millennium mystery. On a dark and snowy night in January, a lone skier was seen crossing the lake. He or she was never seen again and neither skis nor skeleton have ever been recovered.

An entry in the cabin’s new visitors book seemed appropriate as a reminder of this mystery.

It’s an easy 12 km ski from the P17 road head near Wakefield, where the annual motorway extension work is in progress, easing the commute to Ottawa from the ever more distant suburbs that attract the middle classes of Quebec.

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We arrived at the cabin to find it very hot inside, with a roaring fire. We were lucky, that’s not always the case here. Perhaps somebody was staying here last night – this cabin has six bunks and is one of a minority of cabins in Gatineau Park that can be used for pre-booked overnight stays. Ken and Helen have enjoyed quite a few New Years’ Eve parties here with select friends and haunting tales of the mysteries of Lusk Lake and Lusk Caves.

Today we simply paused here for 45 minutes with a few other folk for a convivial lunch.

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The descent from Lusk back to Lac Philippe is a delight, especially in this season’s superb snow conditions. We all enjoyed that, and whilst Helen returned to P17 by the morning’s route, the rest of us took trail 53, adding about 2.5 km to our tally and enjoying some open scenery, albeit in rather overcast weather – but decidedly balmy at just minus 7C.

People known to us have been encountered regularly during the week, and today it was Sophie’s turn. Helen spotted her sunbathing on a bench near the #51/#53 junction, but the rest of us whizzed past without noticing her, the bench in question being on a rather pleasant downhill section.

Just to give an idea of the distances, speeds, timings and ascent statistics for these daily outings, here is my Garmin gadget’s report for today. The hour’s difference between the Moving and Elapsed times is 45 minutes in the cabin, when the gadget was paused, and about 15 minutes of short breaks taken on the trail.

Distance: 26.64 km
Time: 3:14:12
Moving Time: 3:01:22
Elapsed Time: 4:01:35
Avg Speed: 8.2 km/h
Avg Moving Speed: 8.8 km/h
Max Speed: 33.3 km/h
Avg Pace: 7:17 min/km
Avg Moving Pace: 6:48 min/km
Best Pace: 1:48 min/km (must have been the 33.3 km/h section!)

Elevation Gain: 467 m
Elevation Loss: 467 m
Min Elevation: 138 m
Max Elevation: 289 m

Finally, I’d just like to wish Kate (my daughter) good luck in tomorrow’s job interview. Good luck, Kate.