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.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Azure Mountain family adventure

View from Big Rock

Azure Mountain: 2518 feet
Parking lot: N44 32.265 W74 29.080
Turn off from highway 458 onto Blue mountain road: N 44 37.819 W 74 29.986

Sunday morning we left Ottawa at around 8:30am and headed south to the Adirondacks for some fresh mountain air. With a little bit of research the day before I decided to take us to the top of Azure Mountain to see one of the 22 fire towers in the ADK.

A tunnel of yellow

We arrived at the parking lot at about 11am joining 4 or 5 other vehicles. The weather was amazing for anytime of the year let alone late October. 22°C and nothing but blue skies - definitely shorts and t-shirt weather. Each loaded with snacks and drinks we started out on our day's adventure.

We didn't get too far before I spotted the big pile of rocks and remembered that hikers were being asked to bring them up to leave on the pile up top in order to be later be redistributed in an attempt to fight off erosion. Happy to play our part, we took 10 in all.

Azure Mountain view
Soaking in the amazing view.

The hike up was steep but we had no complaints. When we neared the top we could just make out the fire tower and then the erosion fighting rock pile. Then BLAMMO! The view took our breath away. Amazing. I snapped some photos and we then made our way to the top of the recently restored fire tower to get the full 360°.

Windy on top of the fire tower
It sure was extremely windy at the top of the tower.

After taking in the views we found a small sheltered area out of the wind to rest and enjoy our lunch in the afternoon sun. Life doesn't get much better than this.

Following lunch it was one more trip up the tower and then back to what was now a jam packed parking lot.

Fluff balls Bronchial tubes
Azure Mountain rest stop Azure Mountain rest rock

All in all it was a successful trip and the weather more than cooperated. We'll definitely be back to tackle the remaining fire towers next summer.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

It's coming...

Olympus Evolt E-3 10.1MP Digital SLR Camera with Mechanical Image Stabilization

The camera I've been dreaming about for a couple of years now arrives December 15th. Actually it's not so much the camera as it is the features and functionality in a DSLr that I've been holding out for. A full flip screen with live view. Basic features on a point and shoot but ground breaking technological advances on a DSLr.

I would prefer that this was coming from Canon so that I could continue to use my SD cards but at least somebody is setting the precedent.

Now I just have to wait for the price to drop down into the realm of reason. $1700 US for the body only is a little steep.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Thanksgiving weekend

Fall on the backroads

Well the weather finally took a turn for the worst after blessing us with a long Indian summer. Dark and gloomy was the weekend forecast.

The kids caught this monster toad which had been hanging out in my parent's garage all summer long. Apparently the flies are quite plentiful.

Jabba the Toad

On Sunday we visited Uncle Twiggy and his crew and tossed some day old into the Ottonabee River for the ducks and gulls to fight over.

Feeding ducks and seagulls
Gull Just a swingin'

Then later that afternoon I went for a drive and very short hike. Nothing too exciting to report. Even the colour of the leaves seemed to be duller than in previous years.

Fall on the backroads

Just another lazy weekend gone by.

Cat on back

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Slaying the Giant

Heading down Rocky Peak Ridge

Starting point parking lot: N44 08.333 W73 44.670
Giant (4627 ft, #12): N44 09.669 W73 43.211
Rocky Peak (4420 ft, #20): N44 09.286 W73 42.167
End point parking lot: N44 08.982 W73 37.593
Or click here to get a general idea of the area thanks to Google map.
And here's a link to the online topographical map.

Up the Giant and down Rocky Peak Ridge - 12 miles and 4000 vertical ft. This was my first real hike to bag not one but two of the 46 peaks over 4000 feet in the Adirondacks. What an adventure!

The day started with me waking up shortly after 4am and grizz picking me up around 5. We crossed over the border with out incident and after a slow drive down, following school buses and state troopers, we finally arrived at New Russia around 9:10. This is where we picked up Kenmore leaving his truck in this remote but safe parking lot for us to later use as a shuttle to get us back to grizz's car at the starting point.

Once back at the starting point, I double checked my pack to make sure I had my lunch and snacks and more importantly my 4L of water. Then I slathered up with some sunscreen I borrowed from grizz. Seems he left it in the trunk a little too long as all it managed to do was paint me white from head to toe. I laughed it off and took this to be initiation gag number one for the day.

From here we climbed, hopped, and crawled nearly 3,000 feet in 3 miles. I'm not sure if that was initiation gag number two but if it was it certainly was planned well in advance. And for those of you at home wondering what exactly 3000 vertical ft in 3mi means well imagine climbing a very steep set of stairs where the stairs are sometimes spaced 4 feet apart and strewn with rocks of all sizes and tangled with an endless string of tree roots. Actually on second thought there is no imagining, just go try it for yourself.

After hiking the Ottawa valley all summer, the climb was a little slow going for me. Combine that with the unseasonably warm weather (sunny and 25°C) and I was practically crawling. Thankfully Kenmore and grizz were more than willing to match my pace.

Scrambling up Scrambling up the Giant

Finally, some undisclosed time later, we arrived at the top of Giant. Sweet... stunningly sweet with just a splash of fall colour. And apparently a lunchtime hot spot with the local high school kids. Actually it turned out that all the high schools in the Lake Placid area had officially closed for "Mountain Day" and were out and about hiking the ADK trails. How awesome is that?

Lunch time on Giant A well deserved break on Giant

Giant and Rocky Peak sign

From Giant we headed off to tackle Rocky Peak at 4420 feet.

View of Rocky Peak from Giant

In hindsight, Rocky Peak was a piece of cake in comparison to Giant. Rocky offered us an awesome view of Giant which was no less awe inspiring from this angle. We were greeted at the top by a couple of not-so-young woman and then later by another flock of young and energetic high school girls. Their leader was a tough cookie and wouldn't let them sit for their break and then went so far as to encourage them to collect rocks from the nearby inukshuk to take back for their Geology class. One of them grunted and muttered that he already had dibs on the classroom door stopper. Can't say I blame him.

Here's a shot of the three off us with Giant in the background.
The trio on Rocky Peak

From this point on there was no turning back. Luckily it was mostly downhill along Rocky Peak Ridge all the way to our car sitting comfortably at 900 feet.

Lake Mary Louise on top of Rocky Peak Ridge
One last stop

Down down down we hiked. Daylight was fading fast and the last of our energy wasn't far behind. Then BLAMMO! We arrived at the parking lot, home to Kenmore's truck and a well deserved pint of ale. Total hiking time, 10hrs. That's got to be a record.

After shuttling back to grizz's car and changing into some clean clothes we hit the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery for some grub and then a quick stop at Price Choppers for some items only available in the US of A. We finally arrived back at home around 1am. Total trip, ~21 hrs.

A victory pose to say "I'll be back".

Victory shot


Now as mentioned in Kenmore's blog... that wasn't quite the end of the story. Here's the excerpt:

"But that’s not the end of the story….. When you park your car in a lot and head into the woods for the day (anywhere) there is always a little niggling fear in your head that someone will break in to the car or vandalize it while your off soaking up the views. Its only happened to me a couple of times in the many years I’ve been playing in the woods but it hangs in my mind every time I lock up the car and walk into the woods. When we returned to my car after a long day on the trail we found the parking lot covered in water. It had not rained (not even any clouds) all day. We were perplexed…. And then Mike – upon arriving home – spotted an item in an internet hiking forum about a guy whose day went terribly wrong. Seems his car “self ignited” (electrical fire?) when he parked it in the lot. The owner happened to return to his car 10 minutes after he left for his hike. He discovered he’s forgotten something but returned to find his car engulfed in flames(note Kenmore's truck in the background). Enter the volunteer fire department to the rescue that luckily was able to arrive to put out the flames before the tinder dry forest erupted into a conflagration(it hasn’t rained much all year and the forests are dry). My truck – escaped unscathed. Don’t tell me the good karma I’ve logged over the summer helping hikers in the woods didn’t pay back for me today. I can’t imagine what we would have done if we stumbled out of the woods at last light to find my car in embers and a State Trooper looking to collect some information from me for the “report”. I can’t imagine… but I probably will try for a while.

The car (smoldering hunk of metal?) had been hauled away by the time we came out of the woods. I'm still debating if my truck had a more exciting day than I did... "