Sunday, February 25, 2007

Snowshoeing and Skiing

Queen of the Frozen Swamp

Another great weather winter weekend with the family. Saturday we did some snowshoeing through the Ottawa greenbelt. Well technically, I did some snowshoeing and the rest of the family followed in my tracks as they don't actually have their own snowshoes. But I think we still all had fun.


Sunday morning we headed out to P3 off Corkstown Road for some x-c skiing. We skied a little further than expected but once again we all had a blast.


Spotted this snowshoe hare hanging out near the campground shower building. He seemed to be reluctant to lose his spot in line as he stayed put while we skied up to within 6 feet of him and snapped off some pictures. Thanks Buggs.

Here's a shot of me following one of the kids down a small hill. No wipe outs, that's aways good.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Taylor Lake Loop, Gatineau Park

Taylor Lake trail, Gatineau Park

Ahhh Friday at last, time for another x-c ski day in the GAT. Today was a little different though as I was on my own what with Mike driving his parents to Florida. Not a problem. My plan was to ski the Taylor Lake loop which he'd already tackled earlier in the month. But unlike Mike-the-big-chicken, I was going to do it the direction that would give me an exciting downhill ride on Trail 55.

The weather was perfect - blue skies and about -10°C or -24°C with the wind chill but that wasn't going to be a problem in the GAT woods.

After dropping my wife off at work I made my way up to P19, Lac Philippe. By 11am I had the boards slapped on my feet and was heading down the trail to the Renaud shelter for lunch.

Renaud shelter, Gatineau Park

Stopped at Renaud long enough to enjoy a toasted cheese sandwich on the woodstove and then headed off towards Taylor Lake. Life is good.

Somewhere along the way I stopped to snap a pic and ended up skiing alongside a woman. We were both skiing at about the same pace so I started up a conversation. Well it didn't take long before I got an invite to join her for lunch at the hut she and her friends were renting on Taylor Lake. Sweet.

Taylor Lake hut turn off

As we skied up to the hut two more women joined us. Then as I was slapping my aluminum foil wrapped cheese sandwich on top of the woodstove the door opened and yet another couple of ladies came walking in from the cold. Yowzer. After some strange looks some introductions were made and I was offered a seat. Awesome. I think I had read about this in a Playboy magazine once.

Soon I was offered tea, coffee, pasta, chicken, shrimp, crackers and dip, white and red wine, Bailey's, and homemade cheese cake. Life just got better... or as one of my lovely hostesses put it, "You must have good Karma." Suddenly my cheese sandwich wasn't sounding so yummy anymore.

Taylor lake hut, Gatineau Park

By 1:30 my belly was more than full and Bob had arrived with his sled to pick up the ladies' gear as they were packing it out and heading to a spa for the rest of the day. After helping loaded their gear on the sled and saying my good-byes, I was back on Trail 55 and heading for the "!" (as marked on my GAT ski map and as you can see below the map doesn't lie).

Steep hill on Trail 55, Gatineau Park

It was a crazy ride to the bottom with a couple of moguls and an "ah shit" or two but I'm proud to say I made it without incident. The trick is deciding just how much speed to allow yourself on the way down. And the red wine might have helped too.

After a couple more hills like that it was easy skiing. At the split I opted for Trail 51 and made it back to P19 just as the ladies where picking up their gear from Bob's sled. Waves and shouts all around.

Taylor Lake hut party

Thanks again girls for the awesome lunch break at Taylor Lake. And yes I haven't forgotten, "What happens at Taylor Lake hut, stays at Taylor Lake hut."

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Winterlude with the Twigman

This weekend was the last official Winterlude weekend for 2007 so we decided to check it out with our house guest extraodinaire, Uncle Twiggy.

Twig and the kids eating Beaver Tails

First we strolled through the snow sculptures and admired the works created by each of the provincial teams. Then we checked out the voyageur and Native American displays.

Winterlude snow sculpture (PEI) Winterlude snow sculpture
Totem pole carving Indian winter hut
Tripper and the Voyageur

After yesterday's awesome x-c ski in Gatineau, Twig was thinking that the weekend couldn't possibly get any more funner. Well he couldn't have been more wrong. His first run down the ice slide turned into a rocket launch as his new winter pants sent him screaming down the frozen shoot nearly bowling me over as I tried to capture the moment on video. Check it out...

Between blasting down the slides and petting dead beavers we met up with Zartimus and his family. This was almost as coincidental as yesterday's hook up with Mike in the middle of the Gatineau ski hills.

After the Quebec version of Winterlude we headed back over to Ottawa for some skating and beaver tails. Always a hit. And apparently we're not alone - take a look at this crowd.


Skating on the canal.

Winterlude skate on the canal
Another Winterlude come and gone...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Twig slaps on the boards after 20 years

This weekend we had a visit from an old high school buddy of mine. Day one we decided to tackle the x-c ski trails of Gatineau Park so we rented some skis for the day from Trailhead for $15 and headed off to P10.

We left a little late in order to give the sun a chance to warm things up. Forecast was about -23°C in the morning warming up to -9°C by the afternoon. Sun was shining when we rolled into the parking lot and we paid our fee and headed off down... I mean up the trail. From P10 it's about a 3.5km gradual climb up to Keogan chalet.

Twiggy on skis Twig and I x-c skiing in the GAT

Hit the chalet just after lunch and warmed up some awesome turkey, cheese, and garlic sauce sandwiches on the woodstove.

The weather was warming up as predicted and we were feeling energized after the little rest and some food so we decided to ski another few kilometres past Shilly Shally to Huron hut. As we were leaving who should top the hill in front of us but my other x-c ski buddy Mike. Introductions were made and then Mike decided to postpone his lunch to join us on our ski to the next hut.

Kicking it back at Huron cabin

After another snack break at Huron we skied off to check out the view of the Ottawa river. Awesome.

Ottawa River winter view

Then the fun started as we made our way DOWN HILL back to the car. Check out some of the video...

PS: Due to some technical difficulty the awesome clip of the Twigman coming down this hill has been lost. Needless to say it was a hell of a ride that likely would have won us the $10,000 prize from America's Funniest Videos.

Good times.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Lusk Cabin

Signs to shelters

Monday morning Mike and I headed back to Gatineau Park, Quebec for another day of x-c skiing. Conditions where approaching perfect. Even though we haven't had much of a snow fall this year the trails were freshly groomed and in great ski condition. Combine that with blue skies and -10°C and you have what it takes to make a great winter day in the outdoors.

Heading to Lusk Cabin

Lusk Cabin Lunch at Lusk Cabin
Lusk Cabin

Lac Lusk
View of Lac Lusk.

Kicking back at Lusk Cabin
Life doesn't get much better than this.

Stay tuned... On the way out we shot some video which I'll post later.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Winter is fun

The weekend was another family x-c ski and toboggan extravaganza. I'm slowly working the family up to some bigger hills in order for them to get some practice going up and down them. So far so good. And everybody is still having a blast.

Break IMG_5511

IMG_5539 IMG_5523

Tobogganing is always a hit. I do miss our old 4 man family tube though. I still remember screeching down the glare ice slope last year when POP we ripped a chunk out of it. Man that thing would fly.

Ready set GO!
Yep, that's the little one coming down backwards just off to the right. Ahhh good times.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Happy Birthday Mom!

My kids put this wonderful card together for their mother's birthday. I think all the markers are now dead but it was a small price to pay to surprise mom and make her the proudest mother ever.

PS: In case you're wondering I bought my wife (aka mom) another birthday card just from me. She loved it.