Monday, January 12, 2009

Hut to hut traverse in the GAT

Thumbs up at Shilly Shally hut

Gatineau Park: P12 to the Gatineau Visitor Centre (15 km)
Start, P16 Pine Rd: N45 32.221 W75 53.968
End, Visitor Centre: N45 30.309 W75 48.745
Western: N45 30.840 W75 55.045
Huron: N45 30.342 W75 53.980
Shilly Shally: N45 30.438 W75 53.183
Keogan: N45 30.353 W75 52.816
Click here for a view of the map of the Gatineau trails.

Today I joined forces with Kenmore for a hut to hut traverse in Gatineau Park. We left one vehicle at the Visitor Centre and then drove up to P12 to start our day's adventure.

Conditions were perfect by my definition. Blue sky, temperature rising to meet its forecasted -5°C, and the groomers were out working their magic. Sweet.

Groomer monster machine

By about 11:30 we had reached Western hut and stopped for our first photo op and a bite to eat. Kenmore was hoping to toast up one of his wraps but unfortunately the people before us hadn't bothered to start the fire. As everybody left we cracked a summer ale and started to work on some flame. After a few minutes the fire was roaring but the woodstove was still too cool to toast up Kenmore's sandwich so strapped on the boards and continued on down to the next hut.

Western Hut We make fire

We hit Huron shortly after noon and the place was jam packed with retirees bustling about chatting and eating their lunches. Busy or not, we were hungry and the woodstove was hot and ready for toasting sandwiches. So we grabbed the last table and kicked back.

Tripper at Huron View from Huron

After lunch it was down to Shilly Shally. We were going to just snap a pic and move on but as luck would have it the hut was empty and the fire was going so we decided to stop in for another pint. This is a very small hut which is rarely empty.

Shilly Shally Hut IMG_4494

From here we skied down to Keogan and although it too was empty we were out of excuses (read beer) so we snapped the pic and moved on down the trail.

IMG_4497 IMG_4499

From this point on the all hills pointed down and the pace really picked up. Suicide Hill is officially marked "Steep" and about midway it comes to a "T" where you have to either take a left, a right, or come to a screeching stop before hitting a bench and going over the edge of a cliff. To make things even more interesting, I have yet to come down this hill without finding half a dozen people standing around the bench chatting. I don't think they realize that not all skiers barreling down this hill are Olympic athletes able to bob and weave and stop at will. Luckily I managed not to take out the old fogies.

Normally we take a right at the mid point of Suicide Hill and head down to P7 but this time Ken lead me down the left trail and its infamous Penguin Hill. Damn this is one fun hill! Thankfully conditions were not icy or I would have went down on my ass.

Penguin behind us we came to a spot that Kenmore laughingly describes as the section where "the elevator shaft drops out". Ha, I thought. How much steeper can it be compared to Penguin? Well I soon had my answer first hand and it was exactly as advertised and before I came to the second 90° turn I decided to avoid "death by tree" and I bailed. BLAMMO! My 3 year wipe-out free streak was officially over. Luckily nothing was broken but I did manage to bang up my knee on my ski. I'm icing it now as I type this blog... hold off on the Get Well cards please until I see whether or not I need a cab from the back parking lot at work.

1972 Sucrerie
Last hut of the day.

All said and done this was definitely one of my top 5 ski trips. Cheers to that!

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