Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Christmas and Merry New Year!!

Wishing everyone a safe and healthy holiday that continues right through the New Year.

Christmas on fire


Friday, December 14, 2007

Birthday ski in the GAT

Gatineau Park: P19 Lac Philippe to Lac Lusk to Lac Taylor (15 km)
P19 Lac Philippe: N45 37.394 W76 00.546
Lac Lusk: N45 35.100 W76 00.772
Lac Taylor: N45 36.292 W76 02.741

Nothing says happy birthday like a x-c ski in the GAT with a couple of friends and a pint or two. This year's birthday adventure was even more special as we were joined by my father.

Fresh snow on the GAT trail

We arrived at the P19 parking lot shortly after 10 am and after a round of introductions we loaded up the packs, strapped on the skis and headed off in the direction of Lusk cabin.

View from Lusk Lake cabin
View from Lusk cabin
Splitting wood for Lusk woodstove Celebrating my birthday at Lusk cabin

At one point along the side trail to Lusk we were hit with a blast of wet hail. Then right when it seemed that we might be in for a sloppy, icy day of skiing it stopped as suddenly as it had started. The timing was perfect too as we had just arrived at the Lusk cabin where inside we found a roaring woodstove and the volunteer skier that had sparked it up for us.

The volunteer left after he finished his sweeping and wood cutting chores and soon we had the cabin all to ourselves. We relaxed, sung birthday songs, and enjoyed a delicious "Tripper style" lunch. Soon though we were restless again so off we headed back out on the trail to Renaud shelter. It never ceases to amaze me how short the downhill run seems in comparison to the upward climb it takes to reach this cabin. Needless to say it's well worth the effort.

Rounding Taylor Lake

After a short beer break at Renaud (short because we got tired of listening to the one other occupant rant about the poor trail conditions) we headed off towards Taylor Lake to finish the loop back to P19.

Sunny skies in the GAT ! Steep hill

Shortly after rounding Taylor Lake we hit a couple of great downhill runs and then blammo! we arrived in a wash of sunshine at the parking lot. Finally to wrap up an already glorious day in the GAT we all stopped for a roadside poutine before continuing back home to Ottawa.


My birthday wish should now seem obvious to all you blog readers out there... I wished for a repeat the same day next year on my birthday. Cheers.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Family ski in the GAT

Family ski in the GAT

Gatineau Park: P10 to Keogan Shelter (9 km)
P10: N45 31.141 W75 51.234
Keogan: N45 30.353 W75 52.816

Saturday we tested out the skis in the Greenbelt and decided it was high time to raise the bar and try a family ski day in Gatineau Park. So we packed some tinfoil wrapped sandwiches and snacks and loaded up the van for an early start.

Keogan shelter

The weather was a little crisp when we hit P10 but the sun was out and we got the last parking spot in the lot so we were off to a good start. Up up up we skied finally hitting Keogan Shelter around 11:30. Perfect timing for lunch. The place was less than half full so we had plenty of space to enjoy our toasted ham, cheese, and tomato sandwiches.

Going down?

Heading back to the parking lot was the easy part, especially after the "steep hill" sign. A nice steady glide was all I needed to put a smile on everyone's face and ensure a return trip. Thumbs up all around.

Family ski in the GAT

Friday, December 07, 2007

First GAT ski of the season

Snow covered bridge

Gatineau Park: P10 to Keogan Shelter (9 km)
P10: N45 31.141 W75 51.234
Keogan: N45 30.353 W75 52.816

Winter wonderland. Friday had finally arrived and I had the afternoon off so Mike and I headed up to the GAT for my first ski of the season. Conditions were perfect: warm at about -5°C, freshly falling snow and plenty more falling by the minute. And even thought the parking lot was jammed we didn't see a whole gaggle of people.

Well not everything started out perfect I'll admit. I somehow managed to snap my skis on and fall flat on my ass in one single motion. In doing so my ski landed on my pole and it snapped. Luckily it stayed together just long enough to get me through the day and wasn't enough to dampen my spirits. I even managed to smile for Mike's camera has he fired off the mandatory photo.

From then on it was smooth skiing. Up up up is the climb from P10 but that only means that down down down is the free ride back to the bottom.


After a side trail ski here and there we finally ended up at Keogan shelter in time for lunch. Mike was kind enough to warm up his grilled cheese and ham (with ketchup) sandwich for the pair of us to enjoy. It was awesome.

grizzlyG and Tripper Keogan Shelter

Skiing around Lake Fortune in the GAT

Lunch was following by a leisurely ski back to the parking lot. Well for Mike at least. For me it was more of an awkward one-armed pole and glide motion as my busted ski pole had finally given up entirely. Again no complaints as it was all worth the extra effort to be out in this fresh winter snowfall.

Breaking trail

Shortly after leaving the parking lot we spotted this (empty) car in the ditch. Then shortly after that we spotted a smashed up police car getting a tow. When we asked our poutine chef what happened he said that the police car was speeding through town to get to the car in the ditch when he hit the side of a Bell Service van. Ouch. Not a good way to start the weekend.

Car in the ditch Not having a good day

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Karaoke Kaos!!

We had a belated birthday party at our house last weekend. Six girls on a karaoke machine spells chaos. Needless to say they had a blast and we had a few laughs watching them. And actually a couple of them were very good.

Sara's birthday party

Can't wait to get a few pints in me and give it a spin myself. Maybe I'll even invite some of my buddies over... not bloody likely.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Snow forts made easy

Last weekend Uncle Michael came to visit bearing gifts. Once of the most awesome gifts in his Santa-like bag was the Snow Block Mold. Instant snow fort in no time at all. And as luck would have it the snow conditions were just perfect for putting them to the test.

Snow forts made easy

They worked like a charm. Thumbs up Uncle Michael!! We can't wait to test out our sand castle building skills on the beach this summer too.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Last GAT hike of 2007

November sun

Here we are at the end of the hiking season and you couldn't have asked for a better day to soak it all in one last time before the snow falls.

Sunday morning Kenmore, grizz, and I headed up into the GAT via a secret trail known to only a few that still hold one of the "Lost Trails of Gatineau Park" maps. So under a blue sky and a toasty 3°C we headed up the escarpment to catch the Yellow Box Trail.

grizz points out the Fire Tower
Grizz points out the Luskville Fire Tower and tells a tall tale about some old hiking adventure with a legend named Binthair. Not sure if Kenmore and I bought it but it was entertaining nonetheless.

November ice
Ice on the trail - a sign of things to come.

View of the Ottawa River
View of the Ottawa River.

Heading down
Heading home (but not before hitting the local poutine shack).


An awesome view of the Ottawa River
Soaking it all in (and testing out my mini-tripod).

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Chirp, screech, quack

The last couple of weekends we did some hiking in the Greenbelt and spotted several birds scrounging for what seemed to be their last meal before winter.

Feeding the birds

The kids enjoyed feeding the persistent little red-breasted nuthatch and the black-capped chickadee.

Feeding the birds
Black-capped Chickadee

On the way home from one of our excursions we spotted this juvenile red-tailed hawk looking for something furry to eat.

Click here to hear a red-tailed hawk.

And of course there were plenty of ducks milling about too.

Camo reflection Quack


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!!

Happy Halloween everyone!!

Foxy Cleopatra and the Nerdz
Foxy DJ Fizzy Fro

Of course we made our traditional trip down to the scariest Halloween house in Barrhaven. Boo, was it scary!

Killer Klown

Now all we have left to do is eat our way through 4 bags for candy. (insert vomiting noise here)

Candy galore

Monday, October 22, 2007

Wolf Trail - Gatineau Park, QC

Some colour in a sea of rust

Gatineau Park, Wolf Trail, Parking lot P13: N45 32.604 W75 54.582

The weather forecast made the call for me on this one. Sunny and 24°C on Monday (my day off) and wet, cold and bleak for the rest of the week. Done. I just had to get outdoors and soak it in for what might well be the last time before winter. I sent out a quick invitation and quickly found that grizz was on the same wave length so off to the GAT we headed the next morning to hike the Wolf Trail.

Hiking the Wolf Trail in the GAT
Can you spot Mike hiking in the sea of rusty leaves?

Wolf Trail
The Wolf Trail as it comes up along the edge of the ridge.

Wolf Trail view

We relaxed on the ridge and soaked in the sun and sights for at least an hour before heading back down the trail to complete the loop. What few hikers did stroll by our resting spot seemed to be mainly female and dressed for the unseasonable warmth of the day.

Celebrating his 65th

Then just as we were about to start back another hiker/biker came strolling by. After some talking we learned that he has been coming to this spot every 5 years to celebrate his 65th birthday. Well that called for a beer which he gladly, and somewhat surprisingly, accepted. Cheers mate and hope to see you in another 5.

"OK" says the tree.

Spotted this strangely shaped tree just off the trail heading back to the parking lot and Meech Lake. It seemed to be saying "OK" but to what I just wasn't sure.

Cheers to another day in the GAT

Cheers to another great year. Now bring on the snow.