Ski: Kanata Nordic Ski Club (ski trail conditions)
Skate: Outdoor ice rinks in Ottawa
The day was forecast to be killer cold. Our original Gatineau ski plan was downgraded to an afternoon on the Kanata Lakes' trails in order to let the morning warm up. Decision made, the kids and I waited until after lunch before heading out and despite a shining sun it didn't warm up a single degree from the early morning. Oh well, we wouldn't be able to call ourselves Canadian if we let a little nip in the air slow us down.
Technically the temperature reached -21°C today, which is cold enough, but it was the strong winds that were the real hazard as they pushed up the wind chill effect to -33. We could feel it slicing through us and gnawing on our exposed faces whenever we found ourselves out in the open skiing across the meadows and along hydro lines. But in the woods we were well protected and it felt more like the warm -21 it was meant to be.
The trick to not only surviving such cold weather but to actually enjoy it is all in the way you dress. Two words, lay and ers - or more specifically, fleece and Gortex. I thank them both along with my LIFA long johns. Unlike the touque-less teens I see standing at the bus stops in cotton hoodies on my way to work, this family knows how to gear up for winter weather.
And if skiing in -33 wasn't foolhardy enough, later in the evening I took the kids for an hour and a half skate on the Ben Franklin ice rink (their idea, not mine). By then it had reached -35 and unlike the ski trails there were no more trees to hide behind.
For the record, we didn't see another soul on the ski trails this afternoon and nobody joined us on the ice later in the evening either. So if you're looking for solitude, let the thermometer be your guide.