Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Saturday 8 February 2020 - Kanata parkrun number 119

Paul Barber, famous for his 'slowest ever' first finisher statistic at Wythenshawe parkrun, will be impressed with this. How about a time of 32.42 for a first finisher's time? That was my achievement today, with Sue coming in third in 34.10.

We've had some snow, which in places was tamped down to an icy veneer. Crampons, which we were wearing, handled this well. However, most of the 5 km route hadn't been tamped down and was really only fit for snow shoes, being about 30 cm deep in soft dry snow. We didn't have snow shoes. Nor did any of the other 'runners' so far as I could see.

Times weren't really helped by the Arctic wind that swept across the lake that we run around, turning the ambient temperature of minus 20°C into a wind chill adjusted, chilling experience, of somewhere between minus 30 and minus 40°C. Even then, Sue, who had decided that it wasn't really t-shirt weather, claimed to be sweaty under her five layers. My 'three layer' system worked perfectly apart from its failure to deal with the frozen snot that migrated to my mittens.

We are pictured (thanks Helen) in our kit after the 'run'.

I fear that in similar conditions our 'home' parkrun at Wythenshawe would have been cancelled, as was today's intended venue at Orleans, which is even more susceptible to windchill than Kanata.

It's actually the marshalls who suffer more than the runners, so a big thank you to all the volunteers who braved the conditions and enabled today's run to take place.

Meanwhile, Ken was out skiing. Brrr!

If we do anything else of note today, I'll report on it tomorrow. It's a brilliantly clear, sunny day in Ottawa, so we may be tempted by a walk by the river to the beach, but I for one am not going out without my down jacket!

Friday, 7 February 2020

Friday 7 February 2020 - Snowshoeing to Healey Cabin

After an overnight dump of snow, and with no fresh grooming of the ski trails, we decided to drive to a new venue - P15 (Cross Loop Road) on the way to Wakefield. 

There's no skiing from here, but a snowshoe trail leads in less than 5 km to Healey Cabin. This is route 70, and we took it on a cool morning with a biting wind and snow flurries. Once in the shelter of the forest, the four of us soon warmed up and enjoyed the walk through fresh snow to the cabin.

Ken's snowshoe straps encountered a mass failure, leaving him plodding for the rest of the day in his boots. Luckily the compacted snow was manageable, if not as pleasant without the proper footwear.

A large party of schoolchildren was leaving Healey as we arrived. Just as well - we needed their space. We lunched in front of the large windows, admiring the Juncos and Blue Jays attacking the feeder. A lone Cardinal bird added a small splash of bright red to the scene.

On the return journey, Helen retraced our steps along #70 - a 9 km 'there and back'. Sue, Ken and I took the #71 loop after a while. A thin trail with lots of undulations. We met two ladies at the bottom of a hill, but otherwise the path was deserted. En route we passed an emergency shelter that I recognised from last year's Fat Bike ride from Wakefield - so we've 'linked' those routes.

By the time we got back to the car at 2.30, the three of us had covered about 13 km, mostly in continuing snow flurries at around minus 10°C.

The large pot of tea back at home was most welcome.

Helen has been catering wonderfully, but last night she was given a break whilst Sue cooked moussaka, and tonight it'll be fish and chips at the pub around the corner. 

Thursday 6 February 2020 - Mooney's Bay

Snow flurries today left us choosing to enjoy our beach holiday mainly at home, where I'm pictured in the Waxing Room. But we also ventured out to the beach at Mooney's Bay, where Sue is pictured beside the life guard's chair.

A gentle hour's exercise achieved 5 km on the Garmin watch. Quite sufficient for this dull, cool day.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Wednesday 5 February 2020 - Fat Bikers at Larose Forest

Just for a change, Sue and I hired some bikes and joined Ken, David, Chris and Peter for a jaunt on two wheels around the 'single track' routes in this forest, about a 45 minute drive from home.

Great fun - 17.8 km of it, taking two hours. That is, once the hand warmers had kicked in as far as the fingertips on a sunny minus 9°C day. Just a couple of other mountain bikers on the trails, plus some dog sleds on trails wider than ours, on which we had to be careful as our wide handlebars only just fitted inside the trees. In fact, Peter bashed his shoulder on one of these trees and retired at half time.

Back home via a pub lunch at the Étienne Brûlé Micro Brewery in Embrun.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Tuesday 4 February 2020 - The Burma Road

Today's ski with Helen and Sue (Ken went hard core with another group) started up Fortune Parkway from P10. After a couple of kilometres we took the freshly groomed trail number 3, aka The Burma Road.

This is a lovely trail, one of our favourites, albeit we still lacked the usual sunshine. The weather was warm though, no lower than minus 2°C, so ordinary gloves were fine.

Sue is pictured above, heading along the trail under snow laden branches with Hairy Woodpeckers, Chickadees and Blue Jays singing and tapping as we sauntered past.

Visits to the Étienne-Brûlé and Champlain viewpoints preceded our lunch stop in Huron Cabin, where the fire struggled to toast our sandwiches. Viewpoint views were very clear today, but there's a barrier at Champlain due to 'collapsing infrastructure' (a phrase that could come in handy in the UK soon).

There were more people out than yesterday, but Gatineau Park still wasn't very busy. It costs $20 a day (£12) to ski here, unless you have a season's pass (mine cost £75 - and I'm happy with that) or a pass borrowed from a library; the default charge for late return thereof is $2 a day. Sue has one of those, plus several free day passes that come with the seasons passes that Ken, Helen and I have (two each).

The 5 km downhill back to P10 via Ridge Road (#1) and the Fortune Parkway takes just half an hour at an easy pace. The road signs such as the one in the lower picture always amuse me.

Here's our itinerary:
P10 > Fortune Parkway > #3 > Étienne Lookout > Champlain Lookout > #1 (Ridge Road) > Huron Cabin > #1 (Khyber Pass) > Fortune Parkway > P10 - 15km, 300 metres ascent, taking 2 hours 40 mins plus lunch stop.

The return journey home was punctuated by a visit to a small bridge near the Visitor Centre, where a beaver has been seen collecting tasty branches and dragging them into its under-surface lair. There was plenty of evidence of its presence, but it elected to stay at home whilst we were there.

Good news from home - Lisa reports the decorating is coming on apace.

Monday, 3 February 2020

Monday 3 February 2020 - Herridge Cabin from P11 (O'Brien)

The sun shone briefly on another warm day. Slippery skis made for slow progress despite the purple wax and the cinnamon buns. Switched to Kiwi Mike's Special Red (a sticky white product) whilst lunching in the cabin. That made little difference as we slid back to P11 after lunch.

Frank & Co were supposed to meet us (Ken, Sue and me - Helen had a rest) for lunch, but they didn't make it.

Outside Herridge, birds were active on the feeder, the Blue Jays being joined by Black-capped Chickadees and less common Slate Coloured Dark Eyed Junco birds (sparrows with a fancy name).

Our route today was P11 > #36 > #50 > Herridge > return by the same route - 20 km with 400 metres ascent - just over 3 hours plus lunch stop.

Back home (via the Visitor Centre to hand in a bunch of keys found on the trail - good deed for the day, someone had already reported them missing) by 3 pm for R&R - this is our 'Beach Holiday' after all.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Sunday 2 February 2020 - P19 and the Taylor Lake Loop

Snow flurries and warm conditions (minus 6°C) for another nice ski, with Ken joining us today after recovering from yesterday's exertions. 

P19 (Philippe) > #50 > #55 Taylor Lake Loop > Renaud Cabin > #55/50 > P19
14 km, starting 10am, finishing 1.30pm.

The cabin was surprisingly quiet inside, with a flock of Blue Jays outside, mobbing the feeder, Chickadees hardly getting a look in.

Quite a few skidoos about, presumably servicing the cabins and yurts hereabouts.

Must go now. Chopping (veg) duties to be done, or there will be trouble, and it's cold outside!

Saturday 1 February 2020 - Pink Lake from P6

With Ken tired out from the excesses of a winter triathlon (skate 6.2 km, run 5.2 km, ski 5.1 km - it took him 1 hour 14 mins), Sue, Helen and I headed off to parking lot number 6 (P6) - Mackenzie King on a relatively warm afternoon. Heated gloves weren't needed!

The 10 km ski to Pink Lake and back was fairly quiet apart from a few large groups of youngsters.

It was fairly overcast, so poor light for photos, nevertheless a pleasant, gentle, 1.5 hour outing with fresh snow on the branches making for a picturesque scene.

P6 > Champlain and Gatineau Parkways > Pink Lake (named after the Pink family who used to live there) > return the same way apart from the very last few hundred metres, where we went via #7.

PS Bright red Cardinal Birds were seen at this morning's parkrun.