Sue and I took the Impreza to car park P10, at the bottom of Fortune Parkway, for an enjoyable 30 km circuit on a blue sky day in temperatures of minus 10C plus a bit of wind chill – just warm enough for me to avoid getting cold hands, which makes a huge difference to the enjoyment.
We warmed up on the 2 km ascent to the turn up trail 3, aka The Burma Road. This is one of our favourites, but it was very poorly groomed today. Apparently there have been lots of complaints about the standard of grooming of this trail this year. It was full of holes and quite icy and seemed to have been (incorrectly) used as a hiking trail. Quite challenging, but we made it up to Ridge Road without falling over.
The following two pictures were taken at the bottom of the icy Burma Road hill, which I’m glad we didn’t have to descend. (It was hard enough to ascend!)
After an easy ski along Ridge Road to the turn to Western Cabin, we took the short, undulating, and well groomed track 1B to join the Champlain Parkway near the lookout over the St Lawrence plains and the Eardley escarpment.
Huron Cabin, pictured above, was reached shortly before 1pm, after 12 km and two hours of skiing, via the Etienne lookout, trail 3 and Ridge Road.
The stove was humming – our sandwiches, normal cheese and ham butties, but buttered on the outside and wrapped in foil, toasted in no time at all. Skis were re-waxed as the frozen surface of the trails seemed to have cleansed them of the earlier application.
The afternoon was spent on the Parkway circuit back to P10 – 18 km in about two hours, despite a bout of laziness on Sue’s part and the total loss of all our re-applied light blue wax. Perhaps we should have used blue. Anyway, the downhill sections were pretty quick; my Garmin Gadget recorded one kilometre in two and a half minutes, so we must have been going at well over 20 mph* for part of that – whizzing down the icy tracks it felt a bit like being an out of control freight train with no brakes. Exhilarating, but a bit scary when the tracks had jinks and lumps in them.
Today’s excellent 30 km route with about 600 metres ascent:
P10 > Fortune Parkway > #3 > #1 > #1B > Champlain Parkway > #3 > #1 > Huron Cabin > Champlain Parkway > Gatineau Parkway > #32 > P10.
Meanwhile, Ken had returned from the 160 km Canadian Ski Marathon having completed all five sections on the first day, albeit the second section was by bus. Apparently a grooming machine (like the one pictured on trail 36 a few days ago) had lost its tracks and got stuck on the second section. About 200 skiers got past it and found themselves wallowing in knee deep snow for the rest of the section. The section was then closed and skiers were bussed to the start of section 3. But the buses were all in the wrong place, and it was pouring with rain. Ken got a bus after an hour’s wait, but others were delayed by up to three hours. Many people just gave up. Out of about 400 skiers who planned to make it to the ‘Gold Camp’ – where the elite hang out overnight on bales of straw – at least a third didn’t make it. Next day many skiers found it impossible to get their waxing correct in the warm, wet conditions. Ken managed a couple of sections before realising he wouldn’t make the cut off, so he cut his losses and headed to the post event banquet. Others really did bust a gut to try to finish the course, and were totally shattered by the end. I’m sure that ‘stories’ abound on social media sites if you care to look for them, but it seems to me that our decision not to take part in the event this year (and perhaps ever again) was a wise one.
* Garmin shows a maximum speed of 34.9 kph (22 mph).