Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
Showing posts with label Canada 2014. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Canada 2014. Show all posts

Monday, 17 February 2014

Sunday 16 February 2014 – R&R and Mooney’s Bay


Cold and sunny today – minus 18C including wind chill.

We are on a Beach Holiday, so after a morning of R&R, a trip to Mooney’s Bay seemed in order. We did a couple of circuits – about 9 km – before heading back to Quinterra Chalet.


Where we enjoyed food appropriate to this excellent Beach Holiday.


So that’s it for this year’s North American sojourn. All being well, the next entry will be from the environs of sunny Timperley, leaving Ken and Helen to get on with their lives, though we should be seeing them again soon. We do thank them for putting up with our foibles for the last couple of weeks.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Saturday 15 February 2014 – Trails 52, 50, 55 and 51 and the Taylor Lake Loop


On a warmer day, Ken left at 7am to complete the 51 km Gatineau Loppet in 4 hours 49 minutes in excellent conditions. The point to point course took him all the way across the park from P17 to P2. I wish I’d entered.

Helen dropped Sue and me off at P17 (Wakefield) over an hour after the Loppet had started, and we headed along freshly groomed trail 52, a gorgeous trail, to join the Loppet route at the junction with trail 50 after about 8 km. All except one person on the Loppet had already gone through, but the trails in the opposite direction were in great condition despite the fact that about 500 skiers had just sped through on them.

The weather was brightening all the time as we reached Renaud cabin for lunch and rendezvoused with Helen, who’d skied in from P19 (Philippe).


Trail 55, the Taylor Lake Loop, is one of the most scenic in the park. It passes several yurts, like the one shown below, and a number of camp sites. All seemed to be in use by various groups, mainly youngsters, enjoying the outdoor life.


The three of us continued around the lake, passing a turtle breeding area.


After about 6 km, the scenic loop rejoins parkway trail 50, but a much better route back to the P19 car park at Philippe is along trail 51, which after the long ascent on which Sue and Helen are pictured below, sweeps majestically down for the best part of 2 km.


This 22.5 km route (Helen’s was about 5 km shorter) completed the majority of Gatineau Park’s major routes for me and Sue on this trip. We’ve probably covered around 150 km of different trails since we arrived. It’s a brilliant venue in that respect.

Ken was quite tired after the Loppet, so it was just as well that I’d dug a path to the barbecue on which he cooked our traditional end of trip steaks. Not that it’s quite the end of this trip…

Friday, 14 February 2014

Friday 14 February 2014 – Retail Therapy


We were planning to ski today, but waking to 10+ cm of fresh snow, with more coming down, we decided to leave that plan in favour of our annual visit to MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op), where a few worn out items, but not Sue’s Paclite trousers, were replaced.

Bridgehead, vouchers courtesy of Helen, provided coffee, and after lunch at home, Sue and I decided to break trail down by the river. We’d brought our snow shoes all the way from Timperley. With 15+ cm of fresh snow, now was the chance to use them.

It’s just a 5 km stroll, but good fun nevertheless and quite warm in the snowy weather. Sue romped ahead looking very proud of her technique.


But sometimes putting one foot in front of another can be tricky, even for a would be paralympic athlete!


So she went home and iced a cake.


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.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Wednesday 12 February 2014 – O’Brien and Meech Lake


Wednesday: Helen’s downhill ski lesson. So she dropped Sue and me at P11 – O’Brien – car park, from where trail 36 leads over a narrow undulating track with great tit like chickadees, sparrow sized woodpeckers and pigeon sized robins (or so it seems) to eventually reach the easy trail 50 to Herridge Cabin.

We turned around at the junction with trail 50, and then headed to Lac Meech for a cuppa. Considering we had woken to minus 24C, and set off skiing at minus 18C, it was a bit of a surprise to be able to lounge here in the sunshine without feeling cold.

Then it was back down the easy luges of trail 36, meeting a grooming machine whose fresh tracks had been obliterated by a snowmobile, and across the road to the steep trail that joins Fortune Parkway. I went very slowly up here as my wax seemed to have vanished and Sue was far ahead with the waxing kit. But she waited at the turn down trail 9, pictured below, which proved an interesting route to Camp Fortune to reunite ourselves with Helen and get some lunch after quite a strenuous 20 km on the skis, finishing with a very steep ascent and descent before Sue wiped out on the flat, much to the amusement of the occupants of the chairlift passing above her.


Tonight we enjoyed the company of Michael, who appears annually on these pages. Sadly he was unable to complete the ski marathon last weekend due to his lack of training, managing ‘only’ about 135 km of the 180 km course. Next year, perhaps.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Tuesday 11 February 2014 – Gatineau Park East


Today Sue and I headed off to P3, the car park at Gamelin, on the eastern edge of Gatineau Park. There are no cabins in this area, so we enjoyed a 21 km outing around the eastern trails, finishing at lunch time.

The trails in this part of the park are great, especially luge like trail 15 that is reached via trail 5, pictured below.


Our route today was based on the course to be taken by Saturday’s 27 km Loppet, give or take its warm up loop and a few other minor adjustments. We’ve decided not to take part in any of the races this year, for a variety of reasons – costs, crowds, fitness, etc.

We paused at P6 (McKenzie-King) for a cuppa and for Sue to re-wax her skis. Luckily the temperature had risen slightly from this morning’s minus 20C, but not by all that much.


Returning initially along trail 7, then Gatineau Parkway, despite Sue’s bid for freedom in the direction of Huron Cabin, we passed Pink Lake and headed on towards the outskirts of town.


There weren’t many people out today, possibly due to the cool temperatures, but we managed to stay warm, although we later failed to pay a visit to the Rideau Canal (a national treasure and World Heritage site – the largest skating area in the world - which we pass every day) due to my incompetence with driving in Ottawa and our inability to find somewhere to park. Never mind.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Monday 10 February 2014 – A Sunny Circuit from Chelsea


Whilst Ken went to work, and Sue and Helen ventured into Chelsea’s exclusive spa, I started my ski from P8 – the car park in Chelsea, after dropping off the two lazies.

Warming up on the Gatineau Parkway to P9, then slightly more energetically up Fortune Parkway, I found myself at the tempting start of trail 3, the Burma Road, a favourite, especially in this year’s superb conditions.

I headed on up the Burma Road, pictured above and below, encountering just one person before reaching Ridge Road.


To reach Ridge Road, I took the easy back country short cut along trail 9. We don’t ski many of these back country trails. They are a bit hard for us. But this one is enjoyable, and relatively easy, albeit I did wipe out a couple of times, unable to curb my speed on steep twisty descents across bumpy ground.


Good fun though.

I reached Ridge Road shortly after the grooming machine had passed by. It was closely followed by the skate skier shown below, who rather inconsiderately and annoyingly was skiing over the freshly laid ‘classic’ trail, making the tracks somewhat lumpy.


Anyway, it was a lovely day, at around minus 10C not too cold, and after enjoying the trail 24 loop, and 1B, I reached Huron Cabin at around 1 pm. The fire was glowing red hot so my sandwich toasted in no time.

Then it was down the parkways to rejoin Ridge Road near Keogan cabin and follow it down to Gatineau Parkway, from where a quick ‘there and back’ towards P9 took my mileage for the day up to 30 km, and the time to a point at which I wouldn’t have too long too wait for Helen and Sue back at the spa, where apparently Dot had paid for their lunch. Up to that point I’d had no idea that my mother was on this trip!

PS Commiserations to Kate, who didn’t get the job. In fact, nobody got it.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Sunday 9 February 2014 – A Visit to Lusk Cabin


A holiday in Ottawa wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Lusk Cabin, which overlooks Lusk Lake, the scene of a Millennium mystery. On a dark and snowy night in January, a lone skier was seen crossing the lake. He or she was never seen again and neither skis nor skeleton have ever been recovered.

An entry in the cabin’s new visitors book seemed appropriate as a reminder of this mystery.

It’s an easy 12 km ski from the P17 road head near Wakefield, where the annual motorway extension work is in progress, easing the commute to Ottawa from the ever more distant suburbs that attract the middle classes of Quebec.


We arrived at the cabin to find it very hot inside, with a roaring fire. We were lucky, that’s not always the case here. Perhaps somebody was staying here last night – this cabin has six bunks and is one of a minority of cabins in Gatineau Park that can be used for pre-booked overnight stays. Ken and Helen have enjoyed quite a few New Years’ Eve parties here with select friends and haunting tales of the mysteries of Lusk Lake and Lusk Caves.

Today we simply paused here for 45 minutes with a few other folk for a convivial lunch.


The descent from Lusk back to Lac Philippe is a delight, especially in this season’s superb snow conditions. We all enjoyed that, and whilst Helen returned to P17 by the morning’s route, the rest of us took trail 53, adding about 2.5 km to our tally and enjoying some open scenery, albeit in rather overcast weather – but decidedly balmy at just minus 7C.

People known to us have been encountered regularly during the week, and today it was Sophie’s turn. Helen spotted her sunbathing on a bench near the #51/#53 junction, but the rest of us whizzed past without noticing her, the bench in question being on a rather pleasant downhill section.

Just to give an idea of the distances, speeds, timings and ascent statistics for these daily outings, here is my Garmin gadget’s report for today. The hour’s difference between the Moving and Elapsed times is 45 minutes in the cabin, when the gadget was paused, and about 15 minutes of short breaks taken on the trail.

Distance: 26.64 km
Time: 3:14:12
Moving Time: 3:01:22
Elapsed Time: 4:01:35
Avg Speed: 8.2 km/h
Avg Moving Speed: 8.8 km/h
Max Speed: 33.3 km/h
Avg Pace: 7:17 min/km
Avg Moving Pace: 6:48 min/km
Best Pace: 1:48 min/km (must have been the 33.3 km/h section!)

Elevation Gain: 467 m
Elevation Loss: 467 m
Min Elevation: 138 m
Max Elevation: 289 m

Finally, I’d just like to wish Kate (my daughter) good luck in tomorrow’s job interview. Good luck, Kate.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Saturday 8 February 2014 – A Trip to the Fire Tower


On this lovely sunny Saturday, Ken, Sue and I took a 25 km trip from P12 by Meech Lake to the Fire Tower and back. This starts with a steep ascent (very nice on the return journey) up trails 40 and 24 to reach Ridge Road after just over 3 km. It continues for another 7 km along fine undulating ‘Forestry Commission’ type tracks to get to McKinstry Cabin, outside which we are pictured above.

It’s a relatively new cabin, though I can’t find its exact history. After pausing in the cabin for a quick cuppa, we continued a further 2.5 km, in a surprise flurry of snow, along Ridge Road to its terminus at the Fire Tower.


It’s a lovely ski, along quiet tracks even at weekends, as most folk stop at the cabin. Conditions today remained great. It has been a good year for snow hereabouts, and today’s well groomed trails made life very easy. After being a bit cool earlier in the week I found myself seriously overdressed today, and quite damp when I got home – very unusual.

We thought of Michael and others, taking part in the 180 km Canadian Ski Marathon this weekend. Perhaps we should have entered, the conditions were just about as perfect as they could be for the event today. Unusual!

On the way back down trail 40 there’s a sun trap shortly before the final descent to Meech Lake. Ken took advantage, inadvertently doing a fine bit of advertising for Salomon. Wisely, he put a windproof layer on after this break, as the fast descent into the shade involves a significant drop in temperature, to about minus 10C today.


Back at base, we enjoyed a welcome pot of tea with Helen, who brought us the news that she had been unable to fish out any small/medium lobsters from the supermarket pond. “So I got four large ones” she advised.

Jolly good!

Friday 7 February 2014 – Lac Philippe


A fairly simple and standard outing on the skis is from P16 near Wakefield, along trail 50 to Lac Philippe, and back – a 19 km ‘there and back’ route.

We did this today with Helen, on a cold overcast morning. Minus 10C according to the thermometer, but up to minus 20 at times with the chill from an icy wind. We wrapped up well, however, and didn’t get cold. The picture above contrasts sharply with the blue skies of some of our previous visits. In 2012 for example.

Here are Helen and Sue at a corner that catches out many of the novices who ski this trail. It can be a hard turn for a novice on the way back down.


Herridge Shelter is an old farm building from the 19th century. It’s situated half way along the trail to Lac Philippe. Converted to its current use in the 1980s, it serves as a good place to pause for a break on the way to the lake, and a good place to stop for lunch on the way back, by which time the fire you lit on the way out will be roaring and the two storey building will be pleasantly warm (or it would be if the powers that be hadn’t recently replaced the stove with an inferior model!).

In this cold weather, some might expect us to be hauling heavy rucksacks with lots of warm gear. But all you need is a windproof layer in reserve, to put over your two/three layers of t-shirt, long sleeved t-shirt and shell. Paclite ‘waterproofs’ are ideal, and are compact enough to be carried in a bum bag together with lunch, flask and ski waxing kit. Here’s Sue with our selection of bum bags, hers being in the middle. That’s the one she used for two weeks on the TGO Challenge then for five weeks on the E5 long distance trail, so there’s plenty of space in it on days like today.


Above Sue’s head is a Radon testing notice and gadget. Those nice people who have banned bird feeders feel a need to test for radon gas as part of their latest Health and Safety initiative. We relaxed, in the knowledge that people have been living happily here since the early 1800s, and the Prime Minister’s country residence is just a few metres down the trail.

After an excellent lunch – the stove may be sub-standard, but it did toast our butties, we set off back to the P16 car park in good spirits.


I’ve already mentioned that this is our ‘beach holiday’, so you won’t be surprised to hear that after our energetic 19 km outing on the piste we returned to Quinterra Beach Chalet to enjoy an afternoon of books and board games, with the odd pot of tea thrown in. I’m pointing to the winning move…


Friday, 7 February 2014

Thursday 6 February 2014 – Hog’s Back Falls


Today was bright and sunny in Ottawa. But very cold. Minus 20C. So we gave skiing a rest and resumed our 'beach holiday'.

That included a short walk beside the nearby Hog's Back Falls, on the Rideau River, pictured above. The idea behind the name is obvious, but looking at the falls it's a mystery to me how they became so named.

Both black (like our greys) and diminutive red squirrels are abundant here. This bold black one seemed keener to chew a twig than to risk chomping on the evergreen bush to the right of the picture. Carrion crows lurked nearby, trying to spot where the squirrels were hiding their goodies.


Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Wednesday 5 February 2014 – A Camp Fortune Circuit


Wednesday means a downhill skiing lesson for Helen, at Camp Fortune, the hub of Ottawa’s ‘downhill’ fraternity. So Sue and I started our cross-country route from here, using trail 14 to reach Ridge Road.

It was an overcast day with a bitter breeze. My Sealskinz gloves are marginal in this weather (-10C plus wind chill), so tomorrow I may use thicker gloves that unfortunately need to be removed in order to use the camera. (Not that I used it much today.)

So today there were very few pictures as they would be 'dull and samey' as opposed to just samey. I've therefore headed this posting with a picture of Huron Cabin taken yesterday. I have in the past received requests for pictures of cabins in Gatineau Park, and anyone who wants one is welcome to have a full size version of this image.

The cabins are not 'en suite', but they do have toilets, in Huron's case 'his and hers', but most cabins have just one unisex thunder box.


In past years we've enjoyed watching the birds on the feeders at the cabins, but recently it has been decreed that such activity harms the birds, so feeders are now banned in the park. "We don't feed the bears, so why should we feed the birds" say the powers that be, perhaps unaware that the bears are currently fast asleep whilst the birds need all the help they can get to survive.

Perhaps bureaucrats have similar attributes the world over.

However, we have seen red squirrels, hairy woodpeckers, nuthatches, tree creepers and chickadees in the woods. The chickadees are a bit like a cross between a great tit and a blackcap.

After getting as far as the far junction of Ridge Road with trails 24/40, we returned via trail 24 to Ridge Road, then trail 3 – the Burma Road – which was a delight to descend today, though trail 32, our back country route to return to Camp Fortune, was mostly too hard for us and had to be walked.

Our outdoor activities for the day were now at an end after 20 km on the pistes, so we enjoyed lunch in the cafe with Helen, and Frank, who’d been doing some telemarking.

A nasty, swirling, light snow then accompanied us home, making us glad we’d stopped at lunch time as we peered out from the warm car.

Tuesday 4 February 2014 – A Trip to Western Cabin


Another lovely sunny day on which to christen my new ski gear.

Ken went to work. Somebody has to fund the lifestyle!

Pauline, my old colleague from Grant Thornton days, called to celebrate her annual two weeks of gloating about how young she is…

Cinnamon buns put us in a good mood for skiing in the sunshine, so Sue, Helen and I headed off to P7 (Kingsmere) for a 25 km ski as far as the trail 24 loop with Ridge Road and back again. On the way, Helen enticed us down a narrow ‘off-piste’ trail towards a lookout.


I was the only one to fall over…

We proceeded uneventfully past Keogan Cabin and up the Khyber Pass to Huron Cabin, where no fire had been lit. After a cuppa and a break to warm my hands (-10C didn’t seem to suit them today) we continued around the trail 24 loop, then back along ridge road and trail 2 to Western Cabin, and its roaring fire, for lunch.


Excellent cheese and ham toasted sandwiches, with or without mustard!

The easy ski back took most of us along trail 1B to the Champlain Lookout, for extensive views from the Gatineau Park escarpment that houses around 200 km of cross-country ski trails.


An excellent outing in lovely weather with a full set of teeth.

The new skis and, more importantly in some ways, boots were fine, though I took the day very slowly.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Monday 3 February 2014 – Beside the Rideau River


Today was a lovely ‘blue sky’ effort. No skiing, sadly, so my new skis have to wait until tomorrow to be christened. I suppose the day’s rest will help to re-acclimatise those muscles that can still be felt from the previous two days.

The day was dominated by my need for attention to a dental problem – the crown that was fitted to the tooth that broke during our last trip three weeks ago fell out last night. It was only fitted on Thursday, but my dentist did try so hard to sort it out by the time we left, and it was clear to me on Thursday that the laboratory had provided her with an item that could have fitted better. It’s re-fixed now, at considerable cost that may or may not be recoverable. C’est la vie!

Before the dental visit, Sue, Helen and I enjoyed a short walk from the house beside the Rideau River, which flows into the Ottawa River beside which Ken and Helen used to live.

It was sunny and warm for our delightful stroll.

A visit to Joan followed the ‘ouch’ visit (wallet, not mouth) and the day was more or less gone by then, apart from the usual ‘beach holiday’ activities that form an integral part of our visits to Ottawa at this time of year.

Great fun!

Monday, 3 February 2014

Sunday 2 February 2014 – The Burma Road


The above picture is a rare sight in these parts at this time of year. Simon and Doug are lunching in comfort on the bench beside Trail#1 at Huron Cabin. It’s warmer than –5C on a calm, sunny day. It’s usually much colder than this, and until the current warm spell has apparently been diabolically cold in these parts.

We awoke to around 10cm of fresh snow and decided to head into Gatineau Park before it got too crowded on what would turn out to be the best skiing day of the year here, according to numerous comments made by passing friends and strangers alike.

After purchasing my season’s ski pass at the Visitor Centre, and parking at P9, we were soon on Fortune Parkway together with a plethora of skiers ranging from super athletic types like ironman (woman) Cory – in training with a large rucksack for next weekend’s 160 km Canadian Ski Marathon – to families, with small children being pulled in centrally heated sleds.

After 3 km or so, Sue, Ken and I headed up #3, Burma Road, for a scenic journey to Huron Cabin, whilst Helen stuck to the Parkway and #1. The soft fresh snow made life very easy, though the others seemed to need to re-wax a couple of times whilst my skis performed well on yesterday’s blue wax. Here are Ken and Sue, enjoying the undulations of the narrower Burma Road trail before bumping into Tasmin and her husband.


Lunch was taken in the busy cabin at Huron, with sandwiches toasted on the hot cast iron surface of the wood burning stove.


After lunch, we headed down #1 to the Khyber Pass – an easy descent on the fresh snow – before returning to P9 via the wide, well groomed tacks of Fortune Parkway. There were lots of very slow skiers to dodge on this warm, sunny Sunday afternoon, but it was hard to keep up with the ‘buggy sledges’.


My Garmin showed 15.5 km for the trip, compared with 8 km in Mooney’s Bay yesterday.

A visit to Fresh Air Experience on the way home signalled the collection of my new Salomon skis and the sad demotion of the battered old Fischers to ‘rock skis’ for use in conditions where the snow may be inadequate.