Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
Showing posts with label Canada 2010. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Canada 2010. Show all posts

Friday, 14 February 2014

Thursday 13 February 2014 – Rideau River and Canal


After six days’ skiing I fancied a rest.

Skyping with Kate, Jacob, Jessica and Oscar provided an entertaining start to the day.

Later I went with Helen for a potter alongside the river (below), whilst Sue caught up with some work. Some of the trees had been seriously dented by woodpeckers, but only chickadees, squirrels and crows were in evidence today.

It was sunny-ish, with a uniform sort of light blue tinge to the day, and around minus 15C.

Warm enough for a quick excursion after lunch to the Rideau Canal, which is more or less next to the river, and is pictured above. It was good to see the British Paralympic team honing their skills on the world’s largest ice rink.


We have better pictures of the canal on a sunnier day, so this brief entry from our relaxing ‘beach holiday’ is just to remind readers that we are alive and enjoying the excellent Canadian weather and snow/beach conditions.

We hope you survived the winds at home, reports and warnings of which were no doubt exaggerated as usual.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Monday 8 February 2010 – Winding Down

Huron Cabin on Monday lunch time

Sadly, this was my last day in Gatineau Park for this year.  On a beautifully sunny Monday morning I yomped around a 16 km circuit from P10 in about an hour and three-quarters, stopping briefly at Huron Cabin for lunch.

I had considered the above photo to be just another snapshot, but Ken assures me it is a proper ‘photograph’, having been deliberately composed to include the chickadee on the bird feeder as its focal point, and to demonstrate the absence of any skis on the rack outside the cabin (very rare).  “I would have placed my red skis on the rack, to show that I was the only visitor” says Ken.  A good point!

Anyway, someone had been there as it was toasty inside, with a roaring fire.  I did my duty and shoved on another few logs, as others would surely want to toast their sandwiches here today, being as it was minus 10C outside, with an icy breeze.

The main trails seemed to me (though I’m not an expert in such matters) to be well groomed today, though #1B was in its usual unkempt state, but had perhaps had its icy surface loosened by the passage of a snowmobile.

The trail up the Khyber Pass, shown below, was lovely and pristine, having clearly (even to my untrained eye) been ‘machined’ shortly before my arrival.

The Khyber Pass n a quiet Monday morning

So that’s it folks.  That’s all from Gatineau Park for the time being.  The blue skies have been much appreciated, but tomorrow I embark on a 20 hour journey to get home. 

So the next posting will be from Timperley.  Or will it, I wonder?

I can’t finish this without thanking Ken and Helen for their wonderful hospitality, and saying hello to the numerous other friends and acquaintances who have helped to make this trip so enjoyable.

Au revoir – until next year, when I hope that Sue will be fit enough to make the trip.

Monday, 8 February 2010

A Weekend at the Algonquin Eco-Lodge

Ken and Helen outside Algonquin Eco-Lodge

Helen, Ken and I have just returned from a sunny weekend at the Algonquin Eco-Lodge together with five members of OHOC (Ottawa Hostel Outdoors Club) and about 20 other sundry punters. 

A fuller report will be added to this posting in due course, and may be of interest to those considering visiting the lodge.

The lodge has its pros, and its Cons.

For the present, suffice to say we enjoyed a pleasant weekend.  The lodge’s accommodation was fine and the food was mostly adequate, as were the ski and snow shoe trails.  The quite well groomed ski trails were rather limited in length, as was the snow shoe route.

Thanks go to Tim for organising the weekend.  Thank you, Tim.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Thursday 4 February 2010 – The Lonely Road to Lusk Cabin

Lusk Cabin at lunchtime on 4/2/10

Today dawned brilliantly sunny, but by the time I’d driven out to P17 (Wakefield, again) it had clouded over and was a chilly minus 12C.

Today I was on my own for a longer ski, starting up trail 52, past Brown Cabin.  I soon encountered the uncommunicative school children that Helen and I saw yesterday.  I couldn’t get a word out of any of them, though their teacher was friendly enough.  I think he has a tough job.  I was saddened by the gloomy looks on the faces of these kids – some of those at home in the UK would die for the opportunity to do what they are doing, and passing strangers in the UK (in Timperley, anyway) would probably receive a “Hello Mister” in response to their greeting.

Ah well.

After gaining the summit of the long hill that was littered with these prone, snow covered children, I emerged into an area of pristinely groomed trail.  It seemed that I was the first person along it after the groomer, so it was all nicely ridged, without any trace of the usual ugly slashes caused by skate skiers.  A delight to ski along.

Trail 52 - nicely groomed

Turning right at the junction with trail 50, and nicely warm by now (I’d succumbed to the usual cool hands earlier), I glided effortlessly down to Lac Philippe and soon passed the reason for the trail being in such excellent condition.  The groomer driver smiled back.  The pace slowed as the trail now had last night’s 3-4 cm of fluffy snow on its surface.  I wasn’t complaining though; it was enjoyable, easy going along a trail that has often seen unexpected incidents due to ‘twigs’ and ‘leaves on the track’, both of which [for those readers in the UK] can result in falls.

Past Philippe Cabin I turned down the ungroomed trail to Lusk Cabin, one of my favourite places in the Park.  It’s pictured above.  Five French speakers were toasting their sandwiches on the hot stove.  I added mine and chatted to one of them.  My memory turned briefly to recall the legend of the lost skier of Lusk Lake, but that’s another story.

The sun reappeared, and the afternoon was another ‘blue sky’ experience.

On leaving the cabin I was surprised to see the grooming machine arrive – its first venture along this trail for some time, I suspect.  So I had the pleasure of being the first person along the freshly groomed trail, all the way back to the junction with the Taylor Lake Loop.  Whilst sorely tempted to ski the loop, I decided to return to P17 via the Philippe parking lot (P19) and then by trail 53, which was still not groomed, but with last night’s snow was a delight to ski down.

I like trail 53; it has pleasing sections through open country reminiscent of the CSM (Canadian Ski Marathon) route.  Such sections make a welcome break from the tree lined forest roads that house most of the trails in the park.  Not that I’m complaining.  I enjoy them all.

Views of an open landscape from trail 53

Back in the trees, the route undulates  and weaves to join the shorter route from Philippe, trail 51, and head up and down long straight sections for the final 4 km back to Wakefield.  Not being an adrenaline junkie, I love the long, flowing downhill sections where you can just relax and glide gently downhill.  It’s great.

Apart from the school children, I saw only 10-20 people on the trails today.  It was very quiet.  But the conditions were excellent for skiing this gentle 30+ km route in a bit less than 4 hours, excluding the long lunch break at picturesque Lusk Cabin.

Sue, who didn’t make it over here this year, would have loved this ski – I missed her more than usual today.

There will now be a break in transmission for a few days, as we set off early in the morning for a weekend at the Algonquin Eco-Lodge.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Wednesday 3 February 2010 – Helen and Martine enjoy a Bimble from Wakefield

Trees at P19

We’ve been rumbled….

Here’s an extract, referring to my ski last Friday, from The Gatineau Guide:

“Also out in the cold yesterday was the blogger Outdoor Activities. She* skied from P7 despite a sign posted at the empty parking lot advertising marginal ski conditions, and she lived to report:

"This was a lovely two and a half hour ski – about 20 km – in lovely conditions once you got used to the cold.  I’ve not seen the Park so quiet on such a sunny day – the locals do seem rather averse to going out in cold weather."

*Why do I feel this is a she? I may be wrong. Whoever she/he is, they are clearly not cowed by a little nip in the air or a grandmotherly sign in the parking lot. Obviously someone worth knowing! And what about you "locals"? Are you going to let some foreigner show you up as "averse to going out in cold weather"? (She's from Timperley so that makes her a foreigner.)”

Fame at last!  Though I do feel obliged to change my name for today…

On a fairly warm morning (minus 10C with very little wind – and the wind chill really does make a big difference) we set off at 11am from P17 near Wakefield.  We had to fight our way through a large gaggle of school children.

Where are you going to?” we asked a laggard.  “Don’t know” (don’t care) he replied, stumbling over his skis.  Teachers were wrestling to resolve issues of inappropriate equipment and find a hauler for the all important but unexpected fifth sledge.

Where are you going to?” we asked a lad at the front, clearly champing at the bit to haul a heavy sledge along the trail.  “Brown Cabin” (I wish they’d b****y well get going) he replied, definitively.

Anyway, Helen and Martine set off gently along trail 53 to Philippe.  Here’s Helen enjoying a rare open section of trail, which she declared to be in ‘Good to Very Good’ condition, despite a lack of recent grooming.  (Incidentally, the grooming this year seems to be sparser than usual, the only real effort seemingly being made on the Parkways and Ridge Road.)

Helen on Trail 53

By and by, well – after an hour and a quarter, we reached the fleshpots of P19, the ‘Philippe’ Parking Lot, meeting just a handful of folk along the way.

Parking lots have convenient, if small, buildings:
 A welcome sight

This blog leaves little to the imagination!  These shots are really for Martine’s UK viewers, who are sometimes curious about ‘facilities’.
Would ‘Night Bird’ manage here?  I think so!

Interior shot

Trail 51 loops back to trail 53 after a couple of kilometres, leading back to P17 after a total of just over two hours and nearly 17km at our very sedate (I’m reluctant to describe it as ‘feminine’) pace.

On Friday (the day referred to above) I failed to record passing a hardy musician with a video camera along Ridge Road, one of very few people out that day.  She wasn’t here today; it must have been too warm!

The day had started with snow flurries, but we finished in bright sunshine.  A very pleasant little outing, which Sue would have enjoyed.  We were both sad that she couldn’t be with us.

Tim Hortons provided an adequate lunch.

The Wellington Gastropub provided an excellent dinner.

Now for something completely different:

Two weeks today, on Wednesday 17 February, Martine and Michelle (The Pie Lady of Crook Town) plan to meet at Newlands, probably around 10 am at NY 232 195, for a ‘Great British Ridge Walk’.  All properly equipped persons are welcome.  Best check with us in advance to confirm time and venue, and dire weather could result in a change of plan.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Monday 1 February 2010 - ‘Friends and Family’, and the delights of Trail 3 – ‘The Burma Road’

A view from Trail 3 - The Huron Trail - in Gatineau Park
It’s worth reiterating the purpose of this ‘blog’:

“The main purpose of this blog is to keep in touch with friends and family, and maybe entertain others with common interests, particularly in relation to the outdoors. We hope you enjoy it, and your comments are valued....”

The original intention was to keep in touch with family and friends during a trip to New Zealand some two years ago.  That worked a treat.  In those days ‘followers’ didn’t exist, but there was a small network of UK Outdoors Bloggers – numbering about 50 when I joined.  Numbers have now drifted up to about 130, and various members (and others) follow each others blogs.  Friendships have developed, even with people who have not yet met.

This is all great, but, back to basics, the medium is fantastic for achieving that original aim, keeping in touch with family and friends.  I’m currently across an ocean from most of those, and as you may have gathered from recent postings and comments, my mum (84) is recovering from a major operation and my wife has been unable to join me on this trip because of a debilitating neck problem.  So, at this time, regular postings, mundane though they may be, are valued by those closest at home.  Even by children who may occasionally refer to these pages on the basis of ‘Where’s Dad?’ and ‘Will I be getting Sunday dinner this week?’

I notice that a new blogger, Laura, appears saddened by the loss of a ‘follower’.  Never mind, Laura, they can come and go, but I’m sure those at home appreciate your postings, and that you enjoy the process of blogging (and the excitement of cross-country skiing).  Any more than that could be considered a bonus.


Helen and I enjoyed a lovely ski up and down Trail 3 – The Burma Road (aka The Huron Trail).  5-10 cm of snow overnight had freshened it up and made it delightfully easy (it undulates a lot and can be tricky at times).  So we went up it to Huron Cabin, and back down the same way.

Here’s Helen setting off up The Burma Road from its junction with Fortune Parkway.  It was sunny, and about –10C with a cool breeze.

Setting off up trail 3

Once up the initial steep hill, you pass a variety of forest scenery.  Some looks desolate and boggy, such as that at the head of this posting.  By then the sky was turning grey, with the threat of snow flurries.

We paused for hot chocolate and various goodies at Huron Cabin, but this was a short 15 km ski, so the usual toasted sandwiches didn’t appear, as we returned home for lunch.

The local red squirrels were tucking into their all-day breakfast provided by the nice custodians of Gatineau Park.

Red Squirrel outside Huron Cabin

After a little circuit to the Etienne-Brule Lookout we regained The Burma Road, which had very few visitors today and was pristine, before getting back to the Parkway and returning to P10 parking lot in a snowstorm.

Approaching P10 at the bottom of Fortune Parkway


So there you have it – a perfect way of keeping in touch with family and friends, and an indulgence whereby one can, within reason, write any sort of drivel, publish any sort of photos, and innocently communicate with anyone in the world at large who cares to listen.

But there have to be a few minor snags, like ours at present – the internet connection is ‘down’, so who knows when this will be published…

PS – Sue, you need to look at A+H’s email and give them a call!  And I’m sorry to hear you lost at Scrabble again!  To an 84 year old!

Monday, 1 February 2010

Sunday 31 January 2010 – A Trip to the Fire Tower

The Fre Tower beyond McKinstry Cabin

Sometimes social etiquette leaves very little time for blogging.  Today is one of those days.

So I’ll be brief…

Ken and I enjoyed a lovely 26 km ski (3 hours plus an hour for lunch etc) from P12 by Meech Lake, in balmy conditions of –10C, up to this fire tower, where the groomed trails on the southern side of Gatineau Park terminate.  Any further progress would need serious back country skills over pathless terrain.

The fire tower was built in the 1940s and was used for over 30 years to monitor fires in the park.  It was superseded by the more sophisticated techniques of air patrol and lightning detection.

It’s 2.5 km beyond the modern, hexagonal, McKinstry Cabin, so as you pass the cabin you can light the fire (if, like today, nobody else has already done that), returning 45 minutes later to a nice warm cabin in which to toast your sandwiches.  Today we lunched with Judy and Sue, who just happened to be there.

After leaving, we met Jackie on the trail - “Hello Martin” came as a bit of a surprise to Ken, who doesn’t know Jackie!

The trail was lovely to ski, having recovered well from last week’s rain, but it’s not the easiest in the park, and was shunned by most people today, evidenced by plenty of space in P12 but overflowing car parks next to the easier Parkway trails.

That’s all for today.   Goodnight.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Saturday 30 January 2010 – A Blue Sky Day…

It’s always a good title - ‘A Blue Sky Day’, and it certainly was just that today.

It was cold again – about the same as yesterday – around minus 20C plus wind chill.  So we set off late, to P6 – the MacKenzie-King car park.  This gives easy access to the Champlain Parkway, a wide, undulating, well groomed ski trail that after about 10 km reaches the Champlain Lookout.

Today we hastened on from the Lookout to Huron Cabin for lunch – it was surprisingly quiet for a Saturday in the middle of the skiing season.  I think the cold weather puts off the vast majority of people.  But it didn’t put off this Man with Three Hats.

Man with Three hats

The Chickadees were actively rummaging around in the seeds, though I still can’t get a good picture of one.  This is my best effort to date.


The return to P6 was quite speedy until Helen demanded “more wax!”, so a pit stop was made on the sunny trail.  But you soon cool down at –20C!

Re-waxing skis on the trail

Tonight it’s the Canoe Club’s annual Skating Party – a Canoe Club get together in their enforced close season.  They go skating whilst I wander along the banks of the canal – skating being neither of my talents!  Then we adjourn to Catherine’s house for a sumptuous feast to which everyone contributes a dish.  I’ve contributed the cream on top of a trifle!  Here are some ‘likely suspects’ enjoying last year’s party.

At the Canoe Club Skating Party, 2009

Friday, 29 January 2010

Friday 29 January 2010 – Brass Monkey Weather

On Monday it was +9C in Ottawa.  Today it was –20C.  Taking account of wind chill, say –30 to –35C in Gatineau Park.

Both Ken and Helen skilfully averted their attention to the cold, by going to work. 

Having dropped Helen off, returned home for breakfast, dallied with washing, blogging, etc, I was left with a free day.

So I went skiing.  P7 at Kingsmere is about 30 minutes away.  It really was minus 20 with a cutting wind at the start of trail 30.  But that could be the least of my problems, according to this rather prominent sign.

'Marginal Ski Conditions

It was nearly 11 am and I was the only visitor at this popular place.  The Impreza looked very lonely in the huge car park - and there’s another similar sized one across the road – they can get full, but not today!

P7 parking lot

Not many photos were taken today, as I wore heavy duty gloves to protect my delicate digits.  The steep hill out of Kingsmere helped to warm them, but it wasn’t until I passed the small Shilly Shally cabin some 40 minutes later that I felt happy to pause for long enough to take a photo.

Shilly Shally Cabin

It’s my hands that struggle in these cold conditions; feet are fine with a single pair of socks; legs are very cosy in long johns, trousers and overtrousers; and my upper body is more than warm enough in a long sleeved t-shirt and a ‘Vapour Rise’ smock.  My three hats are more than sufficient to keep my head warm.

Anyway, now with nicely warmed hands I stormed along the freshly groomed Ridge Road.  There was nobody else about on this brilliantly sunny day, so my shadow would have to do as foreground…

Lonely Ridge Road

At the turn to Western Cabin, I headed down the still ungroomed trail 1B, then on to Huron for lunch, where someone had kindly lit the fire and a lady called Jackie provided good company for half an hour.

The chickadees (birds) were very cheerful here today, but I failed to get a presentable picture.  My thermometer, at the end of the day, turned out to be a more obliging subject, even if it had been in the sun and was giving an optimistically warm reading.

 Minus 16?

This was a lovely two and a half hour ski – about 20 km – in lovely conditions once you got used to the cold.  I’ve not seen the Park so quiet on such a sunny day – the locals do seem rather averse to going out in cold weather.  Sadly, mine is Hobson’s Choice, as I’m only here for a short time and have already been ‘rained off’ on two days.

It’s another dinner party tonight, this time with Michael and Sayuri – hurrah!

Thursday 28 January 2010 – Meals on Wheels

Helen on the Parkway in a snow flurry by P9

Sue and I are very familiar with the ‘Meals on Wheels’ concept as we frequently entertain our friends at their houses, so that the children can have normal bedtimes (and perhaps not cause chaos in our own small house!).

I suspect that Tim’s motives were different.  Perhaps it was a reluctance to expose his bachelor pad kitchen to ‘outsiders’.  Anyway, “Would you like me to cook dinner for you and Ken, and Martin, and Sophie.  I do a nice Boeuf Bourguignonne” was his opening gambit to Helen.  Whilst her brain was still processing this unexpected offer, Tim extended it by adding “can I bring it round to your place, where the ambience is much better.”

“Tim doesn’t want to clean his kitchen” observed Helen (or was that me?) after the generous offer – who could refuse it, as Tim is renowned for this dish – had been accepted.

That was earlier in the week, and today was the appointed day for Tim’s ‘Meals on Wheels’ service.

Delicious it was, too.  Thank you, Tim.

 Tim and his superb Boeuf Bourguignonne

Helen wasn’t completely upstaged, as can be seen…

Helen's magnificent pavlova

Earlier in the day, Helen and I had enjoyed a short ski from P8 to P9 and back.  It started sunny, but by the half way point, pictured at the head of this posting, snow flurries were depositing a bit more much needed snow.

Tim Horton (for those readers in the UK - this is a different Tim to ‘Meals on Wheels’ Tim) provided lunch, then Helen went to a ‘Visitation’.

The mother of one of H’s work colleagues sadly died earlier in the week. In these parts they have a different system to the one in the UK.  It is accepted practice to embalm the body and put it on display in a large room on the undertaker’s premises.  The undertaker rents out numerous such rooms.  For one day the family are in attendance in this room to greet those who wish to mourn the family’s loss.  That’s commonly done within a couple of two hour slots - ‘Visitations’ - during which relatives and friends come to pay their respects (and view the embalmed body in its best suit of clothes).

The funeral normally takes place – by burial or cremation (yes, it seems a lot of effort to embalm a body, only for it to be cremated a couple of days later!) – on the  following day.  It is attended mainly by family and close friends, but many of those going to one or other of the Visitations will not attend the funeral, where lengthy eulogies may be expected.

Just thought you might be interested!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Wednesday 27 January 2010 – A Bimble in Gatineau Park

A routine sort of day really – I dropped H off at work then it was back home for breakfast and ski waxing before the short drive to P10 (Parking Lot 10), to start skiing at 10.15.

Warning signs at the bottom of Fortune Parkway indicated dangerous conditions, so I simply headed up the Parkways to Champlain Lookout, then on along Ridge Road to the path (#) 24 turn off to Meech.

The wide boulevard that is Fortune Parkway - ski trail in winter, busy road in summer

The parkways had been groomed, but not #24.  However, it looked easy enough as there had been about 10 cm of soft new snow up here at 400 metres, so I headed experimentally down the ungroomed trail.  It was easy, especially on one sharp downhill corner which often catches me out!

Back onto Ridge Road for a while, then #1B, not groomed but easy, and ‘black diamond’ trail 9 which returned me to Ridge Road, along which I continued to Huron Cabin for lunch.

Here’s the start of the ungroomed trail 9.  No bikes allowed, I see!

Trail 9 at its junction with trail 1B

Huron Cabin is one of the older cabins in the park, and is heavily used due to its proximity to easy trails.  Notice the bird feeder on the left.

Huron cabin - quiet and overcast on 27/1/10

The birds and red squirrels were tucking in voraciously to the copious supplies of food in the feeder.  All cabins have such feeders outside, and it’s great to watch the wildlife at close quarters – Blue Jays, Chickadee, Nuthatches, Hairy Woodpeckers – were all present today.

Here’s a Blue Jay and a red squirrel in reluctant harmony.

 Blue Jay / Red Squirrel

The Hairy Woodpeckers get everywhere.  They are the medium size of woodpecker seen here, Pilates being (much) bigger, and Downy being smaller.

 Hairy Woodpecker outside Huron Cabin

From Huron, the five or so km back down to P10 took only around 25 minutes, though the trail was actually slower than on Saturday, the fresh snow having successfully neutralised the icy conditions caused by Monday’s rain.

I was back home by 2 o’clock, feeling satisfactorily well exercised.

It has been suggested that this blog should be renamed ‘Postcard TO Timperley’.  Mark has a fair point, and as Sue returns to Timperley from her sojourn in Egypt on Thursday, this will in effect become a postcard to her back at base.  We are all missing your presence over here, Sue, and hope the sun is shining in Timperley for your return.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Tuesday 26 January 2010 – The Canadian War Museum

Helen and I entertained ourselves today by visiting this museum.  It’s only a couple of miles away but this was H’s first visit, apart from social functions held in the basement amongst an array of tanks and armoured vehicles.

The museum traces activities on Canadian battlegrounds up to 1885 –’First Peoples’ Warfare; New Alliances; Clash of Empires; The Battle for Canada; The American Revolution; The War of 1812; and Conflict and Confederation.  Then it moves on to conflicts on ‘foreign soil’ in which Canada, as part of the British Commonwealth, was involved.  There are sections covering the Boer War, WW1 and WW2, with particular emphasis on areas of significant Canadian involvement, such as Vimy.

Then there’s a large section covering The Cold War, Korea, NATO, etc, up to the present time.

It was very difficult to take it all in in a morning, but the exhibits were well presented, with lots of places to rest and watch short informative videos.

This ship’s wheel, from HMCS Rainbow, was huge and magnificent.

HMCS Rainbow's ship's wheel

Primitive forms of communication used in WW1 were documented.

Wartime messenger

A magnificent armour plated Mercedes Benz used by Hitler at parades in the 1930’s had somehow found its way to Ottawa.

A parade car used by Hitler

Beyond the main galleries is the ‘Regeneration Hall’, where you stand on a high balcony and look across to narrow windows in the ‘fin’ of the War Museum building, to the Peace Tower beyond, high above the centre of Ottawa.  On the floor of the hall is the Statue of Hope, one of twenty plaster sculptures made by Walter Allward around 1925-30 as part of his design for the Vimy Memorial in France.

Looking past the Statue of Hope to the Peace Tower

Seventeen of the twenty evocative plaster sculptures are housed in this hall.  Here are some more.

Some of Walter Allward's plaster sculptures

Before leaving, we popped into the current ‘exhibition’.  It was on ‘Camouflage’, and apart from lots of military sorts of exhibits (like a bikini that looked as if it had been dragged off Ursula Andress on a James Bond set) there were some really rather amusing items such as the one below.

An exhibit in the camouflage exhibition

And believe it or not ‘Where’s Waldo’ had a special place on a coffee table in the exhibition room (yes, the museum is child friendly throughout), so this one is for you, JJ, to try to find Waldo (or should that be ‘Wally’?).

Where's Waldo

I think you may have to magnify your screen, JJ.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Monday 25 January 2010 – Rain, a Film Show, and some Chance Encounters

Ken tends Sunday's BBQ

Here’s Ken, aka ‘summitboy’, tending assiduously to Sunday’s excellent BBQ.  At the time it was still around –10C, but then…

…it warmed to nearer +10C, and rained heavily.

A sorry sight

This was bad news for any thoughts of skiing.  So Ken went to work and Helen and I went shopping.


I’ve now replaced the bum bag that seems to have transferred ownership within our household.

I’ve never seen it as warm, or rain so much, on any of our many winter trips to Ottawa, and I’ve certainly never seen the following message, which seems to me rather unprecedented for this time of year.

This is a first for me

Ah well, just as well I regard this trip as the closest I get to a ‘Beach Holiday’!

It was not however a day of total leisure, as after tea we tripped into town to watch seven films selected from the 2009 Banff Mountain Film Festival.  It’s at least the third time I’ve been to this function - the ‘World Tour’, and this year’s films, for me, had the edge over previous years, not being entirely adrenaline driven, although six out of the seven had a fair dose of that attribute.  Luckily, the longest of the films, tracing a family’s journey across Canada, mainly by canoe, to meet a legendary adventurer and author – Farley Mowat – was the exception.  A beautifully crafted film by Leanne Allison called ‘Finding Farley’. Click here for the trailer.

Chance Encounters

Coming back to the same place year after year means you meet people you’ve encountered before.

On Saturday it was Judy, at lunchtime in Huron Cabin.  We had met at last year’s skating party.  She is contemplating a trekking trip to Europe and was considering the Tour of Mont Blanc (TMB).  I think we can help there, with this, and I was able to assure her that a hired guide is not necessary and tell her that in truth there are many less crowded, and equally scenic, routes to choose from in preference to the TMB.

On Sunday we passed a ‘Phil’ near Herridge Cabin.  He probably knew we would be there.

And today we encountered Linda, with whom many happy hours of skiing have been spent, sitting in the row behind us at the film show.  She assured me that on Saturday and Sunday I had experienced the best skiing conditions of the season to date.  It has to be said, they were superb.  So aren’t I lucky!


Finally, a doubting Thomas (or should that be a Philip?) has questioned the efficacy of our ermine sighting.  If you click here and scroll down the page to Ermine Photo, you will see corroboration of the sighting!  Of an ‘ermine’.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Sunday 24 January 2010 – Lac Philippe

Helen and Ken at the head of Lac Philippe on 24 January 2010 “Where’s Martin?” someone asked.  Yes John, I spent hours and hours trying to find Willie with my children, so I wouldn’t want to waste anyone else’s valuable time doing that – though I do seem to recall it being quite fun.

I’m staying in Ottawa with my good friends and hosts, Ken and Helen, pictured above at the end of Lac Philippe on today’s 22 km ski in Gatineau Park to Healey Cabin and back.

Freezing rain was forecast later so we got going fairly early and were on trail 50 by soon after 9 o’ clock.  It was cool but clear – probably around minus 5-10C plus a bit of wind chill.  Anyway, it took about 40 minutes for my hands to warm up properly.

We reached Healey Cabin, on the site of which the Healey family farmed until 1955, at 10.40.  It was a little early for elevenses.  So we had lunch.

Healey Cabin

The ski back to P19 (Parking Lot No 19) was very pleasant (especially with now toasty hands), and we returned in the company of day visitors and heavily laden folk going home from their weekend based in one of the cabins or yurts hereabouts where you can stay overnight.

It gradually clouded over, so the early start was justified, but by late afternoon (now) the freezing rain had still not arrived.  Weather forecasts here are nearly as accurate as those we get in the UK.  Enough said!

Today’s highlight was the sight of an ermine, a type of weaselMustela erminea, going about its business quite oblivious of us.  It crossed the track ahead, shot up a tree and into a hole, then a while later reappeared, shot down the tree and on its way across the snow.  It was too quick for my limited camera skills, so I’m afraid you’ll have to make do with this blurry image.

An ermine hurrying down a tree trunk

Saturday 23 January 2010 – A Trip to the Champlain Lookout

Ice laden trees in Gatineau Park

No John, this isn’t Egypt, it’s back to weather that’s a reminder of Timperley during the first week of 2010.

Today’s conditions were perfect for a three hour (17 km) slide up Fortune Parkway to Gossips’ Corner and on up the Khyber Pass to Huron Cabin, before heading on to the Western turn and returning to Huron via 1B and the Champlain Lookout.

Poser at Champlain Lookout

It was an easy slither in the sun down the Parkway back to the car, then a visit to the Royal Canadian Mint to inspect some of the medals that will be presented at the forthcoming Winter Olympics.

Very impressive they were too.

Admiring some Olympic medals