Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Friday, 8 February 2019

Snowshoes on The Wolf Trail

We've brought our snowshoes so we may as well use them!

Susan and Roy planned this excursion, and Sue, Ken and I decided to tag along for a pleasant morning, mainly in the woodland of Gatineau Park. 

The #62 trail is about 8.5km in length, starting from P13 at the very end of Meech Lake. It rises about 300 metres from the lake, generating good views from the vicinity of Ridge Road (#1) over the frozen expanses of the Ottawa River.

Beyond the high point of the walk is a short 'there and back' to a viewpoint. Today that was frozen over in the form of an ice cap surrounded by precipices.  Just as well that our snowshoes are equipped with on-board crampons.

Today's pictures are shown in the order they were taken, starting with the car park in a snow storm and culminating with my four companions on the frozen ice cap.

It was quite warm, just below freezing, today and skiing conditions wouldn't have matched yesterday's superlatives. So snow shoeing was a good option. Our two and a half hour walk finished at 1pm, when we adjourned to Palmier café in Chelsea for a well earned lunch.

We'd not been to P13 before, as there are no ski trails that start from there, so it was new ground at the end of a rough road. The Wolf Trail used to be a ski trail - Ken has skied it in the past - but the authorities now seem it to be too difficult for skiers, though it's easy on snow shoes. Indeed, there were a few runners out today, managing fine with trail shoes and yaktrak crampons. Thanks to snowshoers like us, the track was well compacted. 

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Thursday 7 February 2019 - A Trip to Three Cabins

On a warmer day, only about minus 6°C, Ken, Sue and I headed to P10 car park at the foot of the big hill on Fortune Parkway.

The trails were all freshly groomed, and relatively quiet. That's partly due to the 160km Canadian Ski Marathon being held this coming weekend. The many participants will be resting today. We are not attempting the marathon this year.

Ken and Sue had to keep waiting for me; I'm very slow on the skis at present. So they had plenty of time to watch the birds on the feeder at Shilly Shally cabin (top picture). After noting some Evening Grosbeaks outside Healey cabin yesterday, we spotted a Brown Creeper outside Shilly Shally today.

Moving on, we passed Huron cabin (second picture) before continuing on to Western cabin for lunch. This cabin is on the edge of the escarpment. The final three pictures were taken here - outside, inside, and the view from a window. 

Most of our skiing starts from the back of the escarpment and involves quite a bit of climbing to the undulating trails that we can enjoy once the height has been gained. At the end of each outing there's usually a thrilling downhill section to negotiate. Great fun!

I'll make a note to do a posting about the cabins of Gatineau Park. Many of them are former farm houses; some such as Shilly Shally are much smaller, perhaps having been used as gamekeeper cottages. Why were there farmhouses in this area of forest? Apparently this, like much of Canada, was a forested region. In the late 19th century the forest was cleared and replaced by subsistence farming. Many cabins are named after the families who formerly farmed the area. Farming proved a tough occupation in the rocky environment with poor soil. 

The farms were gradually abandoned in the mid 20th century, since when the forest has grown back. More recently, the abandoned farms have been converted to some of the cabins that are our luncheon venues. Most cabins aren't equipped for overnight stays.

Today's route:
P10 > Fortune Parkway > #1 (Ridge Road) > Shilly Shally cabin > Khyber Pass > Huron cabin > #1 > #1B > #2 > Western cabin (lunch) > #2 > #1 > #3 (Burma Road) > Fortune Parkway > P10. 17.8km.

Burma Road was notable for the attention afforded to trackside trees by beavers, who appear to be setting up their own logging business. 

That's all for now. We were home by 3pm, and soon afterwards Susan and Roy arrived to cook dinner for us.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Wednesday 6 February 2019 - A Trip down Trail 50

Today was a cold minus 11°C, and our 19km ski was accompanied by snow flurries of varying intensity throughout.
The four of us met up with Susan and Roy at P16 car park, the surface of which, under an inch of snow, would have made any skating rink owner jealous.

The trail was quiet, but our sojourn for lunch at Healey Cabin was enlivened by the presence of half a dozen young children on an 'away afternoon' from their home schooling. 

Luckily the trails were free of ice following overnight grooming, and the going was slow but easy. The final hill down to P16, which can be tricky in icy conditions, was a delight. 

On the feeder at Healey were Blue Jays, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, and a couple of female Pine Grosbeaks. Red squirrels darted back and forth beneath the feeder and the trees. That follows a bit of excitement at home in Ottawa yesterday, when a swarm of Pine Grosbeaks, American Goldfinches and Purple Finches, all appeared in the garden. They were sent scurrying for safety when a Sharp-shinned Hawk landed in the ornamental cherry tree that was being stripped of its berries. We've also seen a flock of Wild Turkeys by the roadside.

Today's route:
P16 (Pine Road) > #50 > Healey Cabin (lunch) > junction with #52 > return on #50 to P16. 19km. Back at home by 3pm, after a 9.30 start from home. (It's an hour's drive each way.)

The top picture shows Sue, Susan, Roy, Ken and Helen, shortly after leaving P16 in a flurry of snow. Beneath it is a male Pine Grosbeak, taken yesterday in the garden.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Tuesday 5 February 2019 - Beside the Rideau River

Overnight rain made the chances of successful skiing in Gatineau Park remote. So the four of us enjoyed a short (4km) stroll beside the river, where all today's snaps were taken.

It's very icy outside now that the brief thaw is over and the temperature has turned negative again.

Very cosy at home, where our 'beach holiday' continues.

Monday, 4 February 2019

On the Beach

Today's freezing rain somewhat curtailed activities, but this is, after all, our annual beach holiday. So Sue and I went down to the beach at Mooney's Bay. 

Three and a bit laps of the 'track' came to just over 10km - sufficient for us to return home feeling well exercised. Ken stayed on to do some 'hill work' whatever that might be. Apparently the lifeguards had been given the day off - as you can see from the picture, their chairs were vacant.

Helen's exercise involved a bit of baking, and we are looking forward to hosting Susan and Roy for a nice meal tonight.

Brrr

Time: 19.34
Indoor Temperature: 23.4°C
Humidity: 35%
Outside temperature: - 100°C

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Sunday 3 February 2019 - A Trip to Lusk Cabin, and the Taylor Lake Loop

Ken went for a 12.5km run. Sue, Helen and I went to P19 (Lac Philippe) for a 22km ski to Lusk Cabin for lunch, returning via the Taylor Lake Loop. Helen probably did about 19km after taking account of to and fro distances taken by me and Sue. We ski a little faster than H.

Only minus 10°C today so no need for my electric gloves that came in handy on Friday. However, it did snow on us for most of the outing, turning to freezing rain just as we finished at around 3pm.

Susan and Roy joined us for the trail 54 section to Lusk and back. They are staying in Chelsea and turned up at Ken and Helen's house (where we stay) yesterday for afternoon tea. That drifted into a ski renovation session for them under Ken's tutelage, then dinner at the pub.

Today's route, for the record:
P19 > #50 > #55 > #54 > Lusk Cabin > #54 > #55 > Taylor Lake Loop > #50 > P19. 22km.

Top picture: Sue, Roy and Susan outside Lusk Cabin.
Middle picture: leaving Lusk.
Bottom picture: by Taylor Lake.

Whilst the car parks were full today, most people were sticking to the easy 'parkway' trails, so the trail to Lusk, and the Taylor Lake Loop, both of which were in excellent condition, were quiet, though I did manage to rather amusingly wipe out in front of a group on the trail to Lusk.