Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Monday, 22 February 2016

Friday 19 to Sunday 21 February 2016 - A Trip to the Adirondacks


Friday dawned grey in Ottawa. We left town via Sail, a shop that sells all things outdoors. I inspected electric gloves and came away bemused by the array of choices. I love to hate such shops, where tacky stuff lines up with quality items but there's no real way of knowing which is which. Maybe it's all quality stuff - I'm sure Sail would argue that case - but I find the choice so overwhelming that I have to make a quick exit.

About a four hour drive from Ottawa is Lake Placid, in the Adirondack mountain region where about fifty summits rise above 4000 feet, which is occasionally above the tree line.

Nearly half way along the route, beyond Cornwall and the St Lawrence river, the US border officials politely detained us for 30 minutes whilst they established that we were not a threat to security. Apart from paying $14 each for an 'ESTA' certificate we now had to pay a further $6 each for the privilege of another stamp in our passports. Hopefully certain other (safer) countries won't regard these stamps with the same suspicion as the US regards theirs.

Before the border, we had passed the bridge that used to take traffic over the St Lawrence. A different route is now used for large vessels, so the old bridge has been replaced by a much lower toll bridge. The old structure is slowly being demolished; the roadway used to be on the very top of the supports pictured below.


After a snack in a 'Dodgy Donut' shop in a run down town called Malone, we continued on past grimy houses clad with washboard, or metal for the posher residences, wending our way slowly towards Lake Placid, and the delights of a Spruce Lodge town house. Very nice it was too.


A trip to a supermarket saw to our immediate needs, and Susan and Roy rolled in from Glastonbury (Connecticut) to make up our complement of five.

Meanwhile, Ken was enjoying the camaraderie of the 'Gold dorm' before starting the 160 km Canadian Ski Marathon (CSM) on which we've reported before.

A pleasant evening was spent catching up with Susan and Roy and discussing options for the morrow. There's hardly any snow here, so inclusion of our skiing gear was wildly optimistic!


Overnight snow raised our hopes, but only very briefly. Only a couple of centimetres had fallen. Not enough.

Helen had a relaxing agenda involving a shopping trip for Ken. The rest of us went to Adirondacks Loj car park for the short ascent of Mount Jo, 2876 feet.


Microspikes and Yaktrax were appropriate footwear for the steep ascent over ice that was clad with the small amount of soft overnight snow.

Here we all are on the rocky summit with views to some of the higher peaks to the south.


We’d ascended by the steeper ‘Short Route’, and now we descended by the ‘Long Route’, which also had steep sections laced with ice.


Lower down, the path follows the course of a stream. In summer the path would be beside the stream, but now it simply careers down the frozen waterway, presenting a minor challenge for the Microspikes.


Heart Lake lies at the bottom of the hill, looking like a small frozen sea today.


Adirondacks Loj (sic) provided a cosy place to eat our butties and watch the drizzle increase outside. After a walk of just 5.5 km in the morning we were tempted by an afternoon walk in the woods up to Marcy Dam – an 8 km there and back trip.


It rained. Here are Sue and Roy on the reservoir, seen from the dam. People coming down from the summits reported full winter conditions. We were happy to turn back into the relative shelter of the woods.


After another sociable evening at Spruce Lodge, where two roast chickens and a pile of roast vegetables fuelled us, we awoke to a rainy Sunday.

Susan and Roy managed a three and a half hour walk up to the Porter and Cascade summits (well done them), whilst the rest of us drove back to Ottawa for lunch. We didn’t feel that we were missing too much in the limited visibility, though we understand S and R did get some views on their descent.


Mooney’s Bay provided scope for the three of us to get some exercise in the sunshine, a five minute drive from home, but the skiing conditions, after a Saturday of rain and +7C temperatures, were fairly desperate, with standing water in the tracks and very messy wax being needed to get any grip at all. Helen’s waxless skis were definitely the best option for today.


Later, Ken arrived home after completing just seven of the ten CSM stages. More of that later, as I’m now under pressure to finish this entry on a sunny Monday morning, wax the skis, and get off to Gatineau Park, where today’s conditions may be ok.

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