Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Saturday 16 February 2019 - Green Belt Skiing

After getting back from the parkrun there was insufficient time for a ski in Gatineau Park, so Sue, Helen and I took a 15 minute drive to P11 car park in Ottawa's Greenbelt - at Stony Swamp. This is the largest forested area of the National Capital Greenbelt, and it offers a diversity of trails and activities. 

The activity we chose was cross country skiing, for which we shared a trail with walkers and snowshoers. The trail varied in width between 50cm and two metres; it was narrow.

The skiing was a bit like back country skiing without the hills. Very slow. In a couple of hours we covered about 7km. In the park we would do twice that distance.

The trail we followed was the 'Jack Pine Trail'. It was well signposted, with added information boards and many bird feeders. The birds around here don't go hungry, especially when Helen comes equipped with a bag of sunflower seeds. Sue is shown first with a Chickadee, then, after a few pictures showing the nature of the trail, with a Red Breasted Nuthatch, which is rarer than the common or garden Nuthatch, which has a white breast and is a bit larger.

Saturday 16 February 2019 - Kanata parkrun Number 70

After all the recent snow this run was never going to be easy, despite Keith's efforts to tamp down the surface by repeatedly walking the course in his snowshoes. 

The pictures were all taken on the wide track by the start and finish. Only a short part of the course is like this. Most of it is single track with deep snow either side. The tail walker demonstrated this by disappearing waist deep into the snow to let the faster people past. Even in the single track tamped down by Keith and some dog walkers, the snow was soft, and 'post holing' occurred frequently. I was pleased to finish the 5km course in less than 30 minutes.

It was Steve's 50th parkrun, and the cupcakes he brought along with his wife were great. Thanks Louise. That's Steve, with the red t-shirt.

There were eight runners and five volunteers today, one of the volunteers also being a runner, so twelve people altogether. Ten of those went for a coffee afterwards - an impressive quota - a very jolly occasion that lasted until after 11am.

After having been handed the Canadian flag to wave after the last two parkruns, we were pleased to be able to display our own flag today.

Full results are here:
http://www.parkrun.ca/kanata/results/weeklyresults/?runSeqNumber=70

Meanwhile, the weather was perfect for the Gatineau Loppet (Classic), which Ken completed in a creditable 4 hours 26 minutes for the 51km course.

The Canadian Museum of Nature, and Hog's Back Falls

Three more pictures from the museum, showing the lantern structure that replaced the demolished tower, and a striking butterfly display.

There is a new footbridge being constructed over the canal, see fourth picture. The canal was easy enough to walk across today, but in summer this new bridge will save a few wet feet.

Hog's Back Falls are impressive, but hard to photograph.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Friday 15 February 2019 - A Visit to the Canadian Museum of Nature

With rain forecast, we decided to visit the local Nature museum. Helen dropped me and Sue off at the entrance, then we visited the museum before walking the 11.6km home, via the Rideau Canal, Hog's Back Falls, and Mooney's Bay.

It did rain, but by the time we emerged from the museum we needed sunglasses, which we'd left at home.

The first thing that caught our eyes in the museum was the stained glass windows at the entrance. As in most museums of this type, there was far too much to take in on one short visit. The building itself, built in 'Scottish baronial' style, is remarkable - it started off in about 1905 as a museum in a farmer's field, and it rose to fame by housing the parliament for several years after the parliament buildings burned down in 1915. It has been refurbished with stairs outside the main part of the building, where an original tower was demolished due to subsidence, and this new 'lantern' structure houses what appears to be a giant inflated jellyfish in the stairwell.

The first four pictures were taken in the museum, the fifth was taken as we strolled along the 7.8km skating 'rink' that is the Rideau Canal.

Below the random gratuitous dinosaurs are two woodpeckers next to each other in the aviary. Downy on the left, Hairy on the right, clearly showing the difference in size.

Below them is a Great Auk, a specimen that defeated the taxidermist.

I'll do another posting soon, with a few more pictures.

Thursday 14 February 2019 - Trail 36

Ken stayed at home, resting in preparation for the Gatineau Loppet. That was a shame for him, as today's skiing conditions were top notch.
Sue, Helen and I headed to P11 (O'Brien), where we met Maryanne before taking to trail 36. This is a slightly technical trail, made very easy today by the freshly groomed deep snow. It was a delightful outing.
The top two pictures were taken early on the trail, which undulates beside Lac Meech. At a junction you can turn left down to a beach where there's a bench. (Third picture.)
Soon after that, trail 50 is joined for the final few km to Healey cabin, where we lunched in the warmth of the wood burning stove. It was warm enough to spend some time outside trying to photograph the birds on the feeder. Those photos will follow. This camera failed to capture the birds, but a squirrel did oblige.

It was then a pleasurable ski back to P11. Lots of people out today, all enjoying the perfect conditions.

Today's route:
P11 > #36 > #50 > Healey cabin > #50 > #36 > P11. 22.8 km.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Snow Day

The predicted snow arrived. About a foot of it. Not a good idea to go out in the car, so we've enjoyed a rest day with a little wander in our snowshoes by the Rideau River.

The walk was slow going as even with snowshoes we were effectively post holing to the depth of a foot, down to where a path had previously been trodden. Either side of that the snow was much deeper. 

Various small birds were chattering away on this warmer day (only about minus 5°C), but it was a pair of Piliated Woodpeckers that caught our attention. These are crow sized birds, much bigger than the Hairy and Downy varieties that we see on the feeders in Gatineau Park. Unfortunately I didn't have my decent camera with me, so no Piliated picture, but I have included a picture of a Downy Woodpecker taken by Sue the other day. It's about the size of a greenfinch.

Later, Ken went out on some errands and found Ottawa to be empty. Most folk have stayed at home today. There's a misconception that whilst the UK struggles with any snow at all, places like this carry on as normal in snowstorms. That's not the case. Driving is easier here as the roads are ploughed, and winter tyres are the norm. But heavy snow like today's brings many activities to a halt, and those with any sense stay at home.

Today's second picture shows our driveway after the road was ploughed (by the city plough) and the driveway was cleared soon afterwards by a private contractor who follows behind the city plough and clears all the snow for a separate annual fee for those who want that service. Otherwise you have to clear the ploughed snow as well as that in your driveway before you can get out.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Tuesday 12 February 2019 - Fat Bikes from Wakefield

With heavy snow forecast for this afternoon, Sue, Ken and I decided on a morning outing. We hired some Fat Bikes from Expéditions Wakefield and cycled up to P17 car park, from where mountain bikers and snowshoers can share some excellent woodland trails that undulate up to Healey cabin. 

It was bitterly cold - minus 17°C plus the chill from an icy wind. My hands required activated charcoal warmers, and even with those it was a good half hour before they warmed up. My battery operated mitts aren't really suitable for this activity.

We only had the bikes for the morning so we didn't make it all the way to Healey, but we did get to a nice spot by Lac Carman, where the bottom two pictures were taken. 

Our toes were a little chilled, but despite this the outing was a great success. If I lived here I might buy a Fat Bike for winter mountain biking. I believe there are many suitable trails. The conditions today, apart from the cold, were perfect. It was great fun on the firm undulating trail. A narrow trail that traps the unwary, as both Sue and Ken discovered when they veered off the straight and narrow.

This afternoon it snowed.

Monday 11 February 2019 - A Parkway Circuit

With Ken and Helen otherwise engaged, Sue and I headed off in Ken's Impreza to P8 (Chelsea) on another brilliantly sunny day.

The Parkway tracks are easy, with long ascents and descents. Good for a workout. But with no race to train for this year, we took this classic circuit relatively easily today.

The ice curtains on Champlain Parkway (second and third pictures) were as impressive as ever, and the view at Champlain Lookout (fourth picture) was as clear as we've seen it.

The lunch time rush at Huron cabin was over by the time we got there after 1.30pm. This cabin was purpose built on the site of an old homestead at the time the Parkway roads in Gatineau Park were built as a 'make work' project back in the 1940s.

A lone red squirrel was feasting on the debris from Downy Woodpeckers and Chickadees on the bird feeder.

It was a chilly but fast descent to trail 32, which links Fortune Parkway with Gatineau Parkway, then an enjoyable slide on the struggling remnants of our blue wax for the final few km back to P8.

Today's route:
P8 > Gatineau Parkway > Champlain Parkway > Champlain Lookout > #1 (Ridge Road) > Huron cabin (lunch) > #1 > Khyber Pass > Gossips Corner > Fortune Parkway > #32 > Gatineau Parkway > P8. 25.4km.

Another excellent outing in great conditions.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Sunday 10 February 2019 - Lac Philippe

While Ken went for a run, Sue, Helen and I planned a ski from P17 (Wakefield). But the consequence of our lie in was a full car park on this lovely sunny day. So we went to P19 and skied about 6km to the eastern end of Lac Philippe, where the top photo was taken.

Going was slow, as we were practicing the techniques taught to us yesterday by Françoise. I soon discovered a problem relating to the lifting of the passive ski to prevent it acting as a brake. I don't need it as a brake, but it's pretty essential as a stabiliser. 

We returned alongside the lake, diverting to Renaud cabin for lunch. As to be expected, it was pretty busy. The bottom three pictures were taken here. It's a fairly new and very modern cabin. Below the bird feeder was a very active convention of twenty or more red squirrels. A search of these pages for 'Renaud' should reveal pictures of the old cabin that was demolished. 

All three of us skied back to P19, from where Helen drove to P17 (now with spaces) whilst Sue and I took the trail 51/53 route to that car park - which like many places today doubled as an ice rink. Temperatures were around minus 10°C, plus a fair amount of wind chill.

Back at home by 3.30 (long days out are not particularly desirable in the low temperatures) after another enjoyable outing:
P19 > #50 > end of Lac Philippe > #50 > Renaud cabin (lunch) > #50 > P19 > #51 > #53 > P17. 19.3km.

Saturday 9 February 2019 - Orleans parkrun Number 16

Today, Susan and Roy went home to Connecticut, whilst Sue, Ken and I ventured out to an icy suburb of Ottawa to savour their parkrun, which only started in the autumn. The icy trail had been groomed for most of its length and conditions were much faster than last week's at Kanata.

We weren't the only tourists today. There was a chap from Kentucky, an area not renowned for parkruns. He looked a bit bemused - his planned visit to New Orleans may have gone astray?

The photos are all from the parkrun. The run directors over here seem intent on photographing us with the Canadian flag. We must try and get hold of a European Union flag for our next run.

Full results are here:
http://www.parkrun.ca/orleans/results/weeklyresults/?runSeqNumber=16

No pictures from this afternoon, but the blue skies continued as we drove to P6, McKenzie-King car park, for a couple of hours (or more) x-c ski tuition from Françoise. We learnt a lot, but for me, trying to put it into practice after nearly twenty years of 'poor technique' may be somewhat difficult. At least Françoise was happy with my double poling technique, which is a crumb of comfort!

We covered 10km in distance on a section of track of about 100 metres!