Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spring time hiking

Spring snow

Great weekend to be out hiking in the woods. Warm sunny days, clear view through the leaf-less trees, and no need to follow a trail when you have all this crusty snow to walk on.

Testing the ice

Dead tree climbing Spring hike

The only trick is to keep yourself afloat on all that white stuff. It seemed that the adults were "post-holing" about every 10-15 steps as the snow gave way and our leg went crashing through. Sometimes as deep as crotch level. Great chance to practice the "How to Escape from Quicksand" lesson from Bear Grylls' Man vs. Wild show.

Mom gets sucked in
grizzlyG drops down

Hard to believe that this time last year we were cleaning out the garage and riding our bikes through the neighborhood. Heck, we still have 6 foot snow banks on both sides of our street.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter at the farm

Easter on the farm

Once again we spent Easter weekend at my parent's house. This year the snow was crusty which made it just perfect for skiing and tobogganing. It seemed that at least half the daylight hours where spent tobogganing down the hills. Some spots required some quick thinking at the bottom in order to ensure that you don't become banged up in the trees or tangled up in barbed wire fencing. All part of the adventure.

Toboggan run
Jumping Opa Shadow says peace

Easter dinner was relatively quiet this year. But if Uncle Wayne is any indication it's quite possible that the food and wine was just too good to interrupt with pointless banter.

Uncle Wayne polishes off Easter dinner

Monday morning we were witness to what even Mike Rowe would consider worthy of an episode on Dirty Jobs as our friend the vet dropped by to check on some of the cows. Let's just say that we weren't exactly knocking each other over to help out.

You're gonna what?
Overseeing the vetranarian

All in all it was a great time to just relax with friends and family.

Snoozing on the hay bales

Friday, March 14, 2008

March Break 2008

March Break gang

There is no doubt that this March Break will go down in history as the one that raised the bar. Tons of snow, good weather, and most important of all great company. This is our 5th year in a row celebrating March Break with the McMullans and we're already looking forward to next year. Making memories.

Day 1: Made a toboggan run. As per usual the hill was in top form. This year there were two dangerous obstacles to navigate right at the bottom when the toboggan has reached its maximum speed and minimum maneuverability. Kids were wiping out nearly every run. Full face plants and pile ons. Parents were stationed full time at both the boulder and canoe rack in order to ensure there would not be another run into the Barry's Bay hospital (as was the case in 2005 when I bit a hole through my tongue - don't even ask).

Snow job
Toboggan guard Hold on tight

Day 2: Hike. We had hoped for a nice hike into the wilderness but this year's record snow dump put a serious damper on the plan.

Day 3: Hike along the Hastings Heritage snowmobile trail and stop for a fire and a lunch. Originally the plan included roasting hot dogs... don't bother asking what happened to that idea. The cheese, crackers, and kielbasa tasted great especially when washed down with a couple of snowbank cooled Grolsch.

Snow mountain climbing
Fire in a snowbank Hiking the snowmobile trail
IMG_1374 IMG_1368

This year, more than any previous, we seemed to find lots of time to just relax either by the woodstove, in the sauna, or in the hot tub.

Cooking old school Cooking burgers for lunch

We'll be back.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Ottawa gets a snow job

Skiing in the streets of Ottawa

We were completely snowed in today. We got 50 cms yesterday and the plow still hasn't come by. The kids and I went skiing in the streets just before supper.

Blowing us out

Thanks to our awesome neighbor Ray and his sweet ride we were saved from shoveling most of our driveway. That guy is more popular than Santa Claus. Cheers Ray!!

Snow job

The above photo shows my wife and daughter for perspective. The banks in the driveway are now well over our front lamp post, hovering around the 8 ft mark. I love it.

Ski to school

We skied right from our front door and down a couple of streets before heading for one of the parks. Compared to our easy ride following one of the two tire tracks on the road, breaking trail in the park was hard work. Our poles would often stab down 2-3 feet into the snow before hitting something solid. In the end I let the kids go first as they were able to easily ski on top of the snow without really breaking through. I wasn't so lucky.

Skiing in the streets

Update: It's now 9:30 pm and still no sign of the plow. This never happened when we were still under Nepean and not the "mega-shitty" Ottawa.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Skiing Trail 36 to Healey Cabin

Trail 36

Gatineau Park: P11 O'Brien to Healey Cabin (20 km)
P11 O'Brien: N45 31.619 W75 51.855
Healey: N45 34.318 W75 56.019

Today was a mental health day. The plan was to relax and unwind from the day to day stress by spending the day skiing in Gatineau Park. It certainly worked.

Trail 36 from P11

I left P11 O'Brien and headed up and down, up and down Trail 36 towards Trail 50 and Healey cabin. After the fresh 28 cms of snow yesterday and a fresh grooming, the trail was simply superb.

My posse for the day

While stopping to take a photo of Meech Lake a trio of skiing retirees passed me. Hellos were exchanged (a prerequisite in the x-c ski world) and I quickly fell in behind them thinking that I might use them to set me a leisurely pace.

Well I was soon sucking wind and working hard to find my rhythm while these lads chatted away like they were out strolling through the neighborhood park. Hats off boys. I hope to be in as good a shape when I hit my golden years.

Snowed in boathouse

After arriving to a full house at Healey cabin I sat down and cracked open my hard earned pint of Grolsch and tossed my turkey and cheese sandwich on the woodstove to be toasted. Then just when I started to think that life couldn't get any better I looked over at the other table to see three young girls and their parents dipping various fruit in a chocolate fondue. Now that's sweet! (pun intended) Not sure what my fellow ski buddies Mike and Kenmore would think if I pulled one of these out of my pack though.

Meech Lake bridge on Trail 36

After lunch I thought I'd scramble out the door and down the trail to get a jump on my trio of retirees but they soon passed me again. Not a problem, after all solitude is part of the reason I came out here in the first place.

Rumor has it that Saturday is going to bring us another 30 cms of snow. I say keep it coming, I'm not quite finished skiing for this season.

Discovery Trail

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Norway Day in Gatineau Park

Norway Day in Gatineau Park

Gatineau Park: P9 to Huron (17 km)
P9: N45 31.258 W75 50.928
Huron: N45 30.336 W75 53.999

Today Mike and I were to meet up with Kenmore at Huron for waffles, brunost (sweet goat cheese), warm solbærtoddy (a hot black currant drink), and jam to celebrate Gatineau's 6th Norway Day held by the Norwegian Embassy and the NCC.

Norway Day in Gatineau Park
Our waffle chefs Waffle feast at Huron on Norway Day

After a very satisfying lunch we decided to head down Trail 3 and have a taste of the backwoods.

Heading into the backwoods

From Trail 3 we jumped on to Trail 9 to Trail 12, towards Shilly Shally and then down Trail 11 to the Parkway.

Backwoods ski

Dodging skater skiers and waffle hungry kids, we quickly jumped off the Parkway again and headed down Trail 9 making our way around Lac Fortune. Conditions for these trails were perfect. This section of Trail 9 ended with two smoking big hills before joining Trail 32. It was at this crossroads that we parted company with Kenmore as he still had another 30 odd kms to ski back to his car in P6.

Freshly groomed

All said and done these back trails were simply awesome and highly recommended - especially if there is some fresh snow to fall down on should the need arise (as superbly demonstrated in the photo below by Mike).

grizz takes a tumble

Somewhere along this Trail 32, Mike and I came across a small boy shouting for his father. Apparently his ski had come off and his father and brother had continued on down the trail while he opted to park his exhausted self in the middle of the trail and scream bloody murder. Luckily grizz had donned his Good Samaritan hat this morning and decided to save this lad from the encroaching wolves. After spending several minutes fixing the boy's ski and then skiing with him down the trail we met up with his brother and father. Surprisingly they didn't offer a reward.

grizzlyG saves the lost boy

Cheers to Norway Day and another great day in the Gatineau.

Champlain Lookout group shot

Although I hope to be proven wrong, this winter could very well go down in history as the best cross-country ski season ever.