Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Saturday 4 February 2017 – An Outing from P17 (Wakefield) to Lusk Cabin and back to P19 (Philippe)

0404lusk1

On a cool, overcast day with snow flurries in the Park, Ken chose a Winter Triathlon in Ottawa*, Helen dropped me and Sue off at Wakefield for a ski into Lusk Cabin, whilst she took the short (12 km there and back) route from Philippe, to which point we all returned after a convivial lunch in the overheated cabin.

Lusk Cabin is one of very few in the park that allows overnight stays. It’s a small cabin with six bunk beds that can be booked for exclusive overnight use between the hours of 4 pm and 10 am the next morning. Otherwise it is open to day visitors. Somebody had got the fire going well today and the small cabin was really hot compared with the outside temperature of about minus 8°C. The heating elements in my mitts weren’t needed today – it was too warm for them.

It’s a lovely 3 km ski into Lusk along trail 54. We’ve excelled ourselves this year by covering the vast majority of the easier trails in Gatineau Park, thanks to the benign conditions. In some years the trails have become rather icy and that has inhibited our itinerary. But not this year, when perhaps we should have tried a few more of the ungroomed ‘black diamond’ trails. Never mind, we would have fallen over a lot on those trails!

For the record: P17 (Wakefield) > #53 > #51 > P19 (Philippe) > #50 > #55 > #54 > Lusk Cabin (lunch) > #54 > #55 > #50 > P19 = 17.6 km, 353 metres ascent, taking 2 hours 46 mins (2.10 moving time)

* Ken came home in 90th position out of 197 participants. 1 hour 33 minutes for the 8 km skate, 8 km skate ski, and 5 km run (on which he found the use of yaktrax crampons improved his performance – a creditable 27 minutes for the 5 km). [Winner took 59 minutes!]

Friday, 3 February 2017

Friday 3 February 2017 – Another Outing from P3 (Gamelin)

0302trail15b

Just me and Sue on the trails today, as Ken was working and Helen went skating on the Rideau Canal, which has only been open for that purpose for the last couple of days.

Lovely conditions again. There’s no cabin on this route, so we stopped at MacKenzie-King (P6) to consume the contents of our flask and take advantage of the rather limited facilities.

0306washroom

Whilst the trails are mostly through woodland, you get the occasional wide open spaces (with wind-chill) like this part of trail 29 that links Gatineau Parkway with trail 5.

0309trail29

Returning to Gamelin, the next picture was taken from a bridge over a motorway. It shows a range of activities – fat biking, classic x-c skiing and skate skiing, all within a few minutes of the centre of Ottawa.

0311ottawa2

For the record: P3 (Gamelin) > Gatineau Parkway > #5 > #29 > #15 > P6 (MacKenzie-King) > #7 > Champlain Parkway > Gatineau Parkway > #29 > #5 > Gatineau Parkway > P3 = 21.7 km, 366 metres ascent, taking 3 hours 27 mins (3.09 moving time)

Thursday 2 February 2017 – Another Outing from P10 (Fortune)

0204fortune

Another sunny morning saw Sue and me joined by Helen on a ski from P10, near the centre of Chelsea and the site of last night’s snowshoe running.

Sue is pictured above setting off on the 2 km climb up Fortune Parkway on a cold morning. Helen decided to do a there and back ski to Huron Cabin, where we met her for lunch after going further down Ridge Road and enjoying the intricacies of trails 24 and 1B.

After turning onto Ridge Road at Gossips’ Corner, you soon pass this small cabin – Shilly Shally. The Shilly Shally lodge on Trail 1 was created by skiers in the late 1940s, probably from the remains of an old settlement and logging-era cabin. The current structure probably dates from the 1960s and ‘70s.

0207shillyshally3

Back on Ridge Road after our diversion down trail 24, snow flurries started. These slowed us down for the rest of our ski – snow in the tracks means ‘slow in the tracks’. Today I kept my nose covered in a (successful) effort to avoid the intake of cold air that may have led to yesterday’s toothache. My battery operated electric mitts were used for the first twenty minutes or so, but at only about minus 11°C the power wasn’t needed after that.

0209ridgeroad2

For the record: P10 (Fortune) > Fortune Parkway > #1 > #24 > #1 > #1B > Champlain Parkway > Huron Cabin (lunch) > Champlain Parkway > Fortune Parkway > P10 = 19.5 km, 285 metres ascent, taking 3 hours 10 mins (2.41 moving time).

Alan has enquired about the snowshoes. They all seem to be made by Atlas. The running shoes are smaller. Ken’s are pictured below next to my regular ones, which would have been difficult to use on last night’s run.

0201snowshoes1

Here Sue models Ken’s shoes in her slippers. I eschewed wearing slippers last night and found trail shoes worked fine. It was surprising how fast you could run on a proper trail. Last night we were following a maniac (former olympian) who led the group through deep pristine snow in a forest, so it’s perhaps not surprising that we only managed 5 km in an hour!

0202snowshoes2

Regarding Conrad’s question as to a comparison between cross country skiing and walking….

…there’s no ready comparison to my knowledge and it depends on how fast/energetically you walk or ski. Our 15 to 25 km skiing outings are equivalent to a half day walk I would guess. The 16 mile walk quoted by Conrad possibly equates to a 20 to 25 mile ski, depending on the terrain. There are many people older than Conrad on the trails. Once certain leg muscles and shoulders are used to the exercise, I think cross-country skiing has rather less impact on the body than walking.

There is however a bit of homework needed for skiing. Before leaving home, the skis need to be waxed according to the snow temperature – see the gadget on the work bench below, and it helps to have a large basement such as is found in many of the houses of Ottawa. The picture shows just a fraction of the basement here, which extends over the entire footprint of the house.

0203basement

Happy Days.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Wednesday 1 February 2017 – Another Outing from P7, and some Snowshoe Running at Night

0107trail3a

Susan left early for a week in Kelowna, Ken went to work, and Helen fancied a rest. So Sue and I enjoyed the short ski enumerated below.

The weather was superb, and whilst it hadn’t benefited from any recent grooming, trail 3 – The Burma Road – was a lovely route to ski on today. The final descent was fast, and with a large group of people blocking my planned exit, a hasty readjustment failed to halt my progress into the woods. First ‘fall’ of the trip.

That was after herring boning up some hills like the one shown below.

0113trail3g

Lunch was taken at Keogan Cabin, home of icicles and (today only, I hope) toothache.

0114keogan1

For the record: P7 (Kingsmere) > #30 > #1 > Huron Cabin (elevenses) > #1 > #3 > Fortune Parkway > Keogan Cabin (lunch) > #1 > #14 > #4 > #1 > #30 > P7 = 17.8 km, 325 metres ascent, taking 3 hours 28 mins (2.36 moving time).

There’s a group of about thirty crazy Ottawa folk who go out snowshoe running on Wednesday nights. I wonder how many of them prepare by way of a meal of beans on toast? At least two. I might have known Lester would be there as well. Here he is pictured with Ken wearing some lightweight running snowshoes. Luckily a spare pair was available for me, so my full size shoes could be left in the car.

0123snowshoe4

It was actually great fun and very good exercise, albeit we only covered about 5 km in the hour of activity. The somewhat convoluted route is shown below. These were mostly not snowshoe trails until we created them tonight in the undulating woodland near the Visitor Centre in Chelsea.

0125route

You might be able to find the Visitor Centre on the winter trails map shown below (click on it to enlarge), which for anyone interested is available on the Gatineau Park website.

0199routes

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Tuesday 31 January 2017 – An Outing from P11 (O’Brien)

3108meech4

At last, a blue sky day. Inevitably this meant it was a bit cooler. We started skiing at minus 14°C and it warmed up to around minus 10°C. My electric gloves warmed my hands for thirty minutes or so, after which no further power was needed. It’ll be interesting to see whether they perform in colder weather.

Trail 36 was a delight – freshly groomed with hardly any other people on it. We took the track down to Meech Lake and skied around a small island in McDonald Bay.

3114meech9

It was Sue, Susan and me on today’s outing as Ken was at work and Helen was downhill skiing at Mont Cascades with Frank.

The fire at Herridge Cabin had only just been lit, so we went to nearby Healey Cabin, where a couple of mountain bikers were in residence. There was also a large party of snowshoers, whose speedier members had got a roaring fire going.

3116healey3117healeyparty3118healeyfire

The snowshoers had all brought food and were enjoying a lavish banquet by the time we left. I think some local Canadians were introducing a group of Indians to the Park. Everyone was very jolly.

We returned by the same route. Whilst we were unable to find the ‘No Nude Bathing’ sign that used to ornament this trail, we did see a sign that told us we were on the Trans Canada Trail, which I guess is quite an undertaking.

3120transcanada1

For the record: P11 (O’Brien) > #36 > Meech Lake > #36 > #50 > Herridge Cabin > Healey Cabin (lunch) > #50 > #36 > P11 = 21.7 km, 388 metres ascent, taking 3 hours 59 mins (3.02 moving time)

Fabulous conditions for a lovely day out in the sunshine.

Monday 30 January 2017 – An Outing to Hog’s Back Falls

3012hogs4b

Sue and I enjoyed a day off skiing today.

We popped down to MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) for a bit of retail therapy. I’d planned on getting another pair of Keen Targhee ll trail shoes, but a quick look at the prices led to the speedy conclusion that buying any gear over here would be foolish to say the least. Due to the dire exchange rate, what used to be a good deal is now at least 30% more than we would pay in the UK.

Thank you, Brexit people.

So we left.

Helen kindly dropped us off beside the Rideau Canal for a 7 km stroll back to Quinterra Court. We went via the Hog's Back Falls, officially known as the Prince of Wales Falls, but rarely referred to by this name. They are a series of artificial waterfalls on the Rideau River. The falls are located just north of Mooney's Bay and the point where the Rideau Canal splits from the Rideau River.

Prior to the construction of the Rideau Canal, these were a gentle set of rapids originally known as Three Rock Rapids. The name Hog's Back came into use shortly before canal construction. Civil Engineer John MacTaggart, in 1827, described them as “a noted ridge of rocks, called the Hog’s Back, from the circumstances of raftsmen with their wares [timber rafts] sticking on it in coming down the stream.”  They were navigable by canoe, no portage was required.

The head of the original rapids is now buried beneath the canal dam, but the lower section of the rapids can still be seen today and is shown above.

This location marks where the route of the Rideau Canal leaves the Rideau River and enters a man made canal leading to the Ottawa locks. A series of locks lowers boats from this location to the Ottawa River.

Sue is pictured below, next to the Rideau Canal that is used as an 8 km skating route when temperatures are a bit lower than they have been of late. In fact, today brought the colder, sunnier weather that is more familiar to us on these trips. Consequently the canal should be open for skating in the next few days.

3004rideau3

Here’s one of the locks near the falls.

3006rideau5

Meanwhile, Susan enjoyed an energetic ski from P3 to MacKenzie-King and back.

Unfortunately ‘social media’ has failed to isolate us from the woes of the world. Luckily the Canadians are very sympathetic when we (jokingly?) describe ourselves as a refugee from Trump (Susan), and refugees from Brexit (Sue and me). There’s an all pervading sadness, and not a small level of fear amongst Canadians concerning these issues, in particular in relation to their nearest neighbour.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Sunday 29 January 2017 – Another Outing from P17

2906trail53

A great day for skiing. Initially sunny, but flurries started and intensified before we got to Renaud Cabin, which was absolutely heaving when we arrived. We shared a table with some friendly Bosnian immigrants. Canada continues to welcome such folk as these nice people, who arrived many years ago after four years of war in their former Sarajevo home.

Sue joined us later following a navigational misunderstanding.

The camera eventually came out as we approached Taylor Lake, where the following three pictures were taken.

2901ken2902group12904taylor

Towards the end of the ski the blue wax got a bit sticky and we all finished up with great cobs of ice on our skis. The open section of trail 53 was quite atmospheric – see top picture.

For the record: P17 > #52 > #50 > #55 > Renaud Cabin > #55 > #51 > #53 > Lac Kingsbury > P17 = 31km, 542 metres ascent, taking 4 hours 30 mins (3.36 moving time)

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Saturday 28 January 2017 – An Outing from P5

2802keogan2

Another ‘warm’ day with snow flurries and temperatures just below freezing. Overcast again – it’s very very unusual for us to have such warm and overcast weather on this regular winter trip; usually we get bright sunny days with colder temperatures.

Today Ken went on a long ski in preparation for the CSM (Canadian Ski Marathon) whilst the rest of us started from P5 (Penguin).

Helen did a traditional Parkway Circuit. The rest of us started that way but after a few km left the Parkway in favour of the Burma Road (trail 3). It was in excellent condition and most enjoyable. After that we flew down the Khyber Pass for lunch at Keogan Cabin, pictured above. The stove was roaring and the cabin was busy with a mixture of weekend skiers and snow shoers.

Penguin Hill can be fearsome in icy conditions, but with the new snow from the flurries was very easy and enjoyable today. At the bottom of the hill, Sue and Susan took a wrong turn (pretty difficult, but they managed it) and I returned to P5, arriving within a couple of minutes of Helen, who had skied the Parkway Loop without a cabin stop. So she was happy to scoff her lunch in the car while we waited for Sue and Susan to reorientate themselves.

For the record: P5 (Penguin) > Gatineau Parkway > #32 > Fortune Parkway > #3 > #1 > Keogan Cabin > #1 > Penguin Hill > Gatineau Parkway> P5 = 20.4 km, 387 metres ascent, taking 3 hours 21 mins (2.42 moving time)

Then we went to a ‘Pot Luck’ canoe club skating party. To please Alan, I hope that by the time this is posted a foodie picture of something we took along, by way of ‘Pot Luck’, may appear below.

2804pavlova1