Saturday, May 31, 2008

Hailstorm hits Ottawa

It was just after 6pm today when BLAMMO! We were hit with another spring hailstorm. It lasted about 7-10 minutes which was a long time in comparison to other hailstorms I've experienced. (For a clearer picture, go to youtube and click on "higher quality video" under the word "Views").

Throwing caution to the wind, I opened the front door and starting videotaping the freak storm. The hailstones were bouncing and ricocheting all around me and right inside the house. One that was nearly the size of a golf ball just missed my head. Yikes.

Hailstorm hits Ottawa

I know what you're thinking, serves me right for opening the door in the first place. Hard to believe it was 20°C when this storm came a calling. What's up with that?

Friday, May 30, 2008

GAT hike to Lac Hatchet

Mourning Cloak

Gatineau Park: Lac Hatchet (5 km)
Parking: N45 34.764 W76 05.502
Lac Hatchet: N45 34.896 W76 06.743

This trail into Lac Hatchet is definitely one of the lesser known trails in Gatineau Park. The path is narrow and often overgrown but if you keep a watchful eye you can still follow the fading splashes of yellow on the trees. From what I understand, this is an extension of the Yellow Box Trail that runs East of the Eardley Masham Road.

Green forest
Faces in the trees

There are a couple of spots along the way where the trail seems to fork. On the way in I recommend taking the higher path in order to get to the lookout points. With nothing but blue sky today, the views of the Ottawa River and valley below were a welcome break from the sea of green.

Pink Lady's Slipper Wild Columbine or Honeysuckle
Lac Hachet
Fringed Polygala (Gaywings) Wildflower

As you can see from the photos above, spring has obviously got a firm hold on this part of the park. Wildflowers were everywhere offering a welcome wash of colour along the trail.

One of the best parts about this hike is the solitude. Not a soul in sight. The only draw back for this time of the year is that we now seem to be in between bug seasons. Both the black flies and mosquitoes were buzzing around but for the most part they were kept at bay with the breeze and a splash of l'eau d'OFF. Certainly not enough to keep one from enjoying lunch and a pint in the great outdoors.

Checkin' out the view

Cheers blog readers...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pitchoff hike - Adirondacks, NY

Foot Trail
NY State Foot Trail sign with Mount Marcy in the background.

Pitchoff Mountain
Elevation: 3600' (1097m)
Peak: N44 14.250 W73 52.632
Parking lot (west): N44 13.102 W73 53.366
Parking lot (east): N44 14.617 W73 50.731
Distance: 9 km

Today marked the official start of the '08 Adirondack hiking season and with 6-8 feet of snow sitting on most of the peaks above 4,000 feet Mike and I elected to tackle something a little lower. After shifting through a short list of prospects we narrowed it down to a Pitchoff traverse.

First scramble of many

At 3600', Pitchoff is the perfect peak to get the legs back in shape... ok seriously, I doubt my legs will ever be ready for this kind of hiking but through shear willpower my mind (and camera) refuses to let them rest.

Checking out the other side
British Soldier Lichen Lichen on Pitchoff Mountain
A row of 46er peaks

Every time we broke through to another ledge grizz would give me another run through the names of the 46er peaks in view (those above 4,000'). Right to left, Algonquin, Avalanche, Colden, Phelps, Tabletop, Marcy, Haystack, Basin, Big Slide, Cascade, Giant, Rocky Peak, and Hurricane with its fire tower barely visible. "Pardon Grasshopper? Yes you're right, Hurricane is not a 46er peak. Very good Tripper-san."

Pitchoff east
grizz and Tripper

After a lunch break on Pitchoff we continued on our way through a small valley and up onto, you guessed it, another great vantage point. Sweet.

Navigating the crack Watch that first step

Heading east off Pitchoff is definitely a steeper descent following and often crisscrossing a little creek nearly the entire trip down to the parking lot. Upon reaching the road we started hitchin' for a ride back to the car. Although grizz is a veteran at this, having thumbed it from Calgary to Vancouver before, he wasn't having a whole lot of luck. He did however manage to find the time to chat up a bird while she slooooowly pumped the pedals up that long steep hill. Unfortunately for him she was a little too busy to jot down some digits.

Finally I stepped out of my hiding place and snagged a ride from a NJ couple heading up the road to hike Mount Marcy (umm, 8 feet of snow, ahh, doubtful). Rather than scare them off I let Mike take the ride to get his car. Seconds after he drove off a State Trooper pulled over and offered me a ride. I had to decline for fear of missing Mike when he returned. This of course left me with a series of questions to answer from the State Trooper. I left out the part about us hitchhiking just in case.

Hitchin' back to the car

Finally, be sure to check out the following link. Select "USGS topo" from the pull-down tab then run the mouse over the little blue circles to see which photos we took at which point along the trail. Another snazzy little widget from EveryTrail.

Pitchoff slideshow

Spent Saturday hiking with Mike in the Adirondacks. We chose Pitchoff as our starter hike for the 2008 ADK hiking season. Great hike, excellent view, perfect weather. I'll post more details later, for now here is a cool slideshow feature from EveryTrail that allows you to link together your GPS tracklog and your photos using the time stamp data. Very groovy. Be sure to click on the "back to trip" link where you'll get information on time, elevation, distance, etc. It even creates a file to view with Google Earth.

Pitchoff hike - Adirondacks, NY - Widget powered by: EveryTrail

Story to follow.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tromping through Tremblant

Heading down the ski run

This May long weekend we joined the Neills up in Tremblant, Quebec. They had borrowed their friend's chalet for the weekend and invited us as guests. We had an awesome time. We hiked, we dined, we rocked, and we even celebrated a birthday party. (Happy Birthday Katie!)

Tremblant village

The last time we were in Tremblant was again with the Neills back in 2002 when we last stayed at the very same chalet. The kids were much younger then and spent most of the time riding in a backpack carrier enjoying a free ride. This was the same trip that put our families on the "Tremblant Summer Brochure" when a German photographer had us sign waivers and then spent nearly an hour snapping photos of us at various picturesque spots along the 360° Trail at the top of Tremblant. Oh the memories. I noticed the photos are still in use in some of their brochures. Too funny.


There was no photo crew waiting for us at the top this year. But then again we did take one of the longer, less touristy hikes selecting Trail F to Johannsen Peak. The round trip was about 10km. There was even some snow here and there on the trail - sometimes as much as 3 feet - but that just added to the fun factor.

Our first snack break was at The Edge where we were able to sit at the top of the ski lift and catch a nice breeze that helped keep the nagging black flies at bay. A few more kms of hiking and we finally reached the somewhat anti-climatic Johannsen Peak. The best part was definitely not the view as there really wasn't much of one, but the Whiskey Jacks (aka Grey Jays) diving bombing us for cashews and bits of ham sandwiches. It was a lot of fun getting them to land on various parts of our bodies for salty nuts. (some photos withheld)

Ski lift
Crossing swords Snowballs in May
Grey Jays

Heading back down to the village below
Tremblant Gondola

At night we kicked back and listened to Mikey play slide guitar or pluck it hillbilly style on the old banjo. When that failed we watched various comedy clips on the internet. Flight of the Conchords proved to be a crowd favourite... check them out as they play "Business Time".

Sunday was unexpectedly another great weather day so we opted to hike one of the many other trails in the immediate area. Originally we had planned to hike a trail suggested by the owner of the chalet but somewhere along the way we were side tracked by one of the other many "hiking this way" signs and ended up doing a different loop. Oh well, we'll just put it down on next year's hit list.

Red trillium

Until next time...

Neills give a shout out

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tulipfest Tour

Sea of tulips

Spring has sprung in the Nation's Capital and the sea of brilliantly coloured tulips are everywhere. Heck, we even had one pop up in our own garden.

This weekend was prime tulip viewing season as they were in full bloom. Saturday afternoon we headed down to the Dow's Lake area with our weekend guest, Uncle Michael, to soak in the sun and stroll through the explosions of colour.

One of the "Cowguys" juggled and ate fire while being held by two members of the crowd.
Flame eating busker dude
Blowing on the ol'slide trompone Tulipfest art

Buskers, music, and art. While it may be somewhat scaled back from years gone by, the Tulipfest still manages to entertain the crowds.

To be honest, the tulips and warm summer-like temperatures are always enough to get people out and about with their families and cameras. And wow! were there a lot of cameras. And with so many smiling faces it makes it near impossible not to enjoy yourself. If you do find yourself teetering on the edge, I suggest a large poutine and sausage or perhaps a Beaver Tail to help push you over.

Splash of yellow
Ragged red tulip Yellow

And don't forget to stop and smell...

Stop and smell