Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
Showing posts with label Canada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Canada. Show all posts

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Philadelphia Airport

It's a massive place, serving a city that's twice the size of Greater Manchester.

We arrived on a lovely day (skiing in Gatineau Park would have been sublime) in an Embraer plane like the one on the right - less than 100 seats. We are leaving on one more like that on the left - a much bigger 787.

There are six terminals - all displaying lavish artwork and displays. Easy chairs make our seven hour sojourn here reasonably palatable, especially given the wonderful prose in Northbridge Rectory, by Angela Thirlell. Written in 1941, about a village in WW2, the author manages to enthral the reader without anything of any real substance happening.

I finished that book, and am hoping that Delia Owens will match Thirkell with her 'Where the Crawdads Sing' (2018) during the only horrible part of this trip - the overnight flight home.

Lego, and a few other things, features in the lower picture.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Sunday 16 February 2020 - Western Cabin and some Black Diamonds

While Ken went on another Personal Best adventure on the 50 km Freestyle Loppet (race), Sue and I enjoyed a ski with Helen, outside the 'Loppeteering' arena.

On a warm day with sunny intervals we set off from Meech and up the long trail 40 hill. Sue and I got a bit ahead, so we skied the easy section of black diamond trail 9, between Ridge Road and trail 1B. After a quick visit to Champlain Lookout, we headed back along 1B and then down trail 2 to Western Cabin.

Helen had arrived at the busy cabin a few minutes before us. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch, before returning nearly all the way back to Meech via trail 2, which becomes a black diamond trail for the final descent to join trail 40 for the plunge down to P12 car park. There were numerous pauses for photos in the sunshine.

Black diamond trails are the harder ones, many being along back country routes. We were happy to negotiate today's quota without any incident other than a comment from a gentleman ascending #2 along the lines that "I'd never be able to descend that slowly!' Admittedly, it does take an effort.

We were finished by lunch time - it being only 3.5 km back to P12 from Western Cabin by this direct route. That left plenty of time to prepare a feast to celebrate Ken's mutation into Superman, and his birthday - delayed due to his Superman activities.

This may be the final posting from Ottawa, where we wouldn't wish to overstay our welcome. Though, after looking at the UK weather forecast for the rest of the month, we would be happy to get stuck here.

Today's stats:
P12 (Meech) > #40 > right on #24 > left on #1 > #9 > #1B > Champlain Lookout > #1B > #2 > Western Cabin > #2 > #40 > P12.
13 km, 300 metres ascent, 2 hours 10 mins plus stops.

The photos are of Helen and Sue on trail 2.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Saturday 15 February 2020 - Kanata parkrun number 120, and a romp around Mooney's Bay

On arrival at Kanata on another 'three layer morning', I spotted Steve Gamble, so I knew I wouldn't be first finisher. Any pressure to come home first for three weeks running was off.

That made for a very pleasant 5 km jog on the cold day, but we were sufficiently wrapped up for only the lungs to complain about the temperature (minus 12°C plus considerable wind chill). There may be more pictures in due course, but the one I've chosen for now is of Sue at the finish, where the 'funnel' consisted of a phalanx of volunteers. 

Sue and I went back to join the tail walker, Yanic, who was with his friend Justine. She had just arrived from Singapore, where it is a little warmer. Quite a shock to her system!

Earlier results from Wythenshawe parkrun indicated over 300 participants despite desperate weather conditions. Impressive!

The majority of our runners and volunteers adjourned to the Morning Owl café, where some of us enjoyed the smashed avocado with two fried eggs on a rosti base, topped with balsamic rocket. Delicious. We were sad to say goodbye to this group of parkrun friends, who we won't see for another year unless they visit us in Manchester.

No lunch was needed.

The afternoon found Sue and me on our skis at Mooney's Bay, a five minute drive from home, enjoying a windswept three laps of the 3.2 km cross country skiing course. Meanwhile, Ken was skiing the Gatineau Loppet (Classic skis) for the eleventh time. Congratulations to him for completing the 50 km course in 4 hours 15 minutes, a personal best. He goes out on the same course tomorrow with his skate skis for his second 50 km race in two days. Good luck with that, Ken!

So it's a high carb dinner again....

The bottom picture shows the stadium at Mooney's Bay, where lots of tuition was taking place. I would liken this facility to Stretford Athletics Stadium in Longford Park, which is similar in size and nature to the Mooney's Bay area, albeit Longford Park is further from the river, and the Mersey doesn't (to the best of my knowledge) have a beach. 

Friday, 14 February 2020

Friday 14 February 2020 - Shopping

Today is sunny, but minus 32°C with wind chill, so not a day to be out on skis. Anyway, we've had some good skis over the past few days, and some of our gear is on its last legs. So a trip to the gear shops followed a bit of Alpe Adria Trail planning. I even managed to produce a Whisky Cake for consumption later.

New ski trousers, gloves, some lightweight tent pegs, hand warmers, and some wine for Ken's birthday, all lightened my wallet, but prices here are a little higher than at home, so as Sue couldn't find her target items at sale prices (most of my purchases were discontinued lines being sold off cheaply), she will have to postpone her quest for new gear until we get home.

Meanwhile, Ken was collecting his bib for tomorrow's Loppet (50 km ski race). Given the forecast for a very cold day, Sue and I are quite happy not to have entered this year.

Thursday 13 February 2020 - P7 to the Visitor Centre, via Western Cabin

After a late night due to our visit to the opening night of 'Guess Who's Coming To Dinner' at Ottawa Little Theatre (a very entertaining production), we left Ken to pre-Loppet relaxation at home.

Helen had a Spa voucher that expired today, so before going there she dropped Sue and me off at P7 (Kingsmere), for a rendezvous with Susan and Roy.

Later, she would meet us for the pictured refreshments at the Palmier café by the Visitor Centre in Chelsea.

In between times the four of us skied the route detailed below. No photos from the trail today - it was a cloudy, windy day with light snow. Quite cold at minus 12°C plus considerable wind chill.

The skiing conditions were excellent. Trail 3 (The Burma Road) was a delight, as was our stay in Western Cabin, where we are pictured chatting to locals who were curious as to how come a couple from Manchester turn up with a couple from Glastonbury (Connecticut)? [We met on the TGO Challenge in 2008.]

Accidents were mostly avoided today, by all but Susan, whose energetic herringbone ascending results in the occasional nose plant.

We'd not been on trail 13 to the Visitor Centre before; we skied it at its best, as it had been groomed minutes earlier.

Sadly the beaver was staying at home under the snow today. "Too cold to go out" was his excuse.

Stats: P7 > #30 > #1 > #1B > #1 > #24 > #40 > #33 > #2 > Western Cabin > #2 > #1 > Champlain Parkway > Étienne-Brûlé > #3 > Fortune Parkway > Gatineau Parkway > #13 > Visitor Centre.
29.5 km, 530 metres ascent, taking 4 hours 10 minutes plus stops.

Later, a lovely meal with Susan and Roy, who return home in the morning. 

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Wednesday 12 February 2020 - P17 to Lusk Cabin

Another brilliant day on the skis with Susan and Roy. Sue and I met them at P17 at 10 am, leaving Ken and Helen to go skating on the Rideau Canal, mostly open today. Ken had hoped to skate the whole 7.4 km and back, but they managed slightly less as he was hampered by having taken two left feet skates!

The four of us went merrily along to Lusk (pictured), where the cabin was warm but the fire was clogged with the ashes from overnight visitors. (The legend of the lost skier of Lusk Lake lives on...) So we adjourned to Renaud Cabin for lunch. The fire there was so hot that it toasted our sandwiches in seconds. Then, leaving two other visitors engrossed in a game of cribbage, we enjoyed an easy ski back to P17 past the turns into a special 2 km section of Saturday's loppet, one of which is pictured. 

My waxing (blue) worked fine today, and my gentle pace avoided any risk of falling over. The other three, following yesterday's tuition from Françoise, had multiple falls. I wondered why I kept catching up with them!

P17 > #53 > #51 > #50 > #55 > #54 > Lusk Cabin > #54 > Keogan Cabin (lunch) > #55 > #50 > #55 > #51 > Philippe > #53 > P17.
28 km, 600 metres ascent, taking 4 hours plus breaks.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Tuesday 11 February 2020 - P7 (Kingsmere) to Champlain Lookout and back

Whilst Sue, Ken, Roy and Susan opted for the torture of a two hour skiing lesson with Francoise, I chose to join Helen on a short outing from Kingsmere.

Conditions were good. Not much below freezing, and a well groomed trail.

I took the route described below; Helen only went as far as Huron, taking the Parkway/Huron link/Ridge Road route, to meet up for lunch at Keogan Cabin, where it was lovely and peaceful once a loud Frenchman had gone.

Blue Jays on the feeder were joined by a Downy Woodpecker (a small 6" cousin of the more common 9" Hairy variety) and a Chickadee, with a red squirrel enjoying their spillages.

Keogan is the lower of today's pictures, only about 5 km from the trail head at Kingsmere.

Stats: P7 (Kingsmere) > #30 > #1 > Champlain Lookout > Champlain Parkway > Fortune Parkway > #1 > Keogan Cabin > #1 > #30 > P7. 
17.5 km, 340 metres ascent, taking 2 hours 40 minutes plus stops.

Meanwhile, Sue and Ken were delivering a watch that they had found to the Visitor Centre, where the resident beaver was actively restocking his lodge with branches. No pictures here, but Ken has compiled an entertaining video...

Monday, 10 February 2020

Monday 10 February 2020 - P12 to the Fire Tower

Perfect conditions greeted us after a tedious Monday morning rush hour drive following 15 cm of overnight snow. 

All six of us (me, Sue, Ken, Helen, Susan and Roy) enjoyed the ascent up freshly groomed trail 40. A left turn up trail 24 took five of us the long way round, leaving Helen the chance to get well ahead by taking the shorter right turn along trail 24.

The sun gradually emerged as we cruised along Ridge Road to McKinstry Cabin. Today's pictures were taken on that stretch on the pristine piste. The others pulled in for a snack at the cabin, whilst I continued 2.7 km to the Fire Tower, the most distant point on the escarpment that we reach on these trips.

Despite the superb conditions, I managed to wipe out on the way back to the cabin. Lunch was welcome. 

Helen had come and gone, returning directly to P12 without venturing to the Fire Tower, and everyone else was soon ahead of me for the lovely ski back to P12. They had encountered a blogger, 'Musician on Skis', whose 'picture postcard' postings we have been following for years. Some of our group will no doubt feature on today's posting.

The final descent down trail 40 was easy enough, if a bit rough, and we were back at the cars, with me a few minutes behind the others, by soon after 3 pm - a 5 hour outing in great conditions and amiable (minus 6°C ish) temperatures.

The pot of tea when we got home was most welcome.

Today's route:
P12 (Meech) > #40 > #24 towards Western Cabin > #1 (Ridge Road) > Fire Tower > McKinstry Cabin > #1 > #24 > #40 > P12.
27 km, 650 metres ascent, 4 hours 25 minutes plus stops.

On the basis that Susan and Roy were despatched to 'buy pudding', they will be joining us shortly for another convivial evening. Luckily there is a special 'beer fridge' in the basement.

Our thoughts are with P&J, who we hope aren't still trapped in floods with a defunct vehicle in the Yorkshire Dales. 

Sunday 9 February 2020 - A P3 and Pink Lake Circuit

At below minus 20°C outside, we delayed our start today until after an early lunch, by which time it had started to cloud over and warm up. 

Weather in UK not so good, with friends P and J trapped in the Yorkshire Dales in a village cut off by floods and with a broken car that got stuck in the floods. It can only get better for them.

By the time Ken, Sue and I had got to P3 (Gamelin) at 1 pm, it had warmed up and a bit of brisk exercise soon sorted the extremities.

Susan and Roy have turned up in town, en route on their way home to Connecticut from a trip to Maine, and we met them on trail 5. Our party of five then enjoyed the undulations of trail 15 before heading down the long hill from Pink Lake and finding our way to the café at P2. An easy ski along trail 29 took us back towards P3. 

Today's route:
P3 > Gatineau Parkway > #5 > #15 > #35 > Pink Lake > Gatineau Parkway > #29 > P2 café > #29 > #5 > Gatineau Parkway > P3. Both today's pictures were taken on trail 15.
Totals: 16 km, 300 metres ascent, 2 hours 15 minutes plus stops.

We enjoyed a lovely evening, with Susan and Roy visiting for dinner. They are staying nearby in an Airb&b, and may be skiing with us for a day or two.

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Saturday 8 February 2020 - Dragon Boats and Hog's Back Falls

Unable to stay indoors on such a sunny day, Sue and I went down to Dow Lake to watch some of the Ice Dragon Boat Championships. 

The Dragon Boats are propelled along a 200 metre course by way of 8 or 10 rowers using ice sticks that are very much like large toilet plungers with a spike in the middle. There's a steersperson at the rear of each boat, and a drummer at the front.

This looked like great fun, but watching was cold. After a cinnamon and sugar beaver's tail (pancake) we walked along the canal to the Hog's Back Falls on the River Rideau, then on through Mooney's Bay and back home - about a 10 km walk altogether.

A nice way to spend a cold but sunny afternoon. More pictures in due course.

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.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Kanata parkrun number 118

We arrived here in Ottawa late last night, but we did manage to drag ourselves out for a 9 am burst of exercise.

Whilst Helen volunteered, Sue and I donned our crampons and set off along the narrow icy paths.

Had we thought about it, we may have aimed to mimic Gayle and Mick's parkrun podium achievement last week, but sadly Sue fell back into fourth place, despite just being dressed in a t-shirt and leggings, and it being minus 9°C.

I was delighted to be able to match Gayle's success, if not her time - my first ever 001 finish token!

I suspect that we both needed to go overseas for such successes - my time would certainly put me well down the field in any UK parkrun. 

What fun!

Friday, 31 January 2020

Bottled Water!

Philadelphia airport is so hot that you need plenty of liquid. We found ourselves sitting next to an advertisement for 'LIFE WTR', masquerading as an art installation - one of many that brightens up this airport. You might be able to magnify the picture and read the text. The picture on the right is intended to represent birds in an aviary.

I found that gazing at these images for a while during our 8 hour (yes, really!) stopover was quite calming.