Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Snow falls on the GAT

Shilly Shally

Gatineau Park: P10 to Western (18 km)
P10: N45 31.141 W75 51.234
Western: N45 30.840 W75 55.045
Click here for a trail map.

I decided to take Wednesday off in order to make the most of the fresh snow before the weekend rain washed it all away. Marc joined me on this adventure making this his first chance to test out his new xc ski gear.

The morning started off with some sticky snow making our trip up Trail 3 a real lung burner. Technically some parts were more of a snowshoe walk than a ski. Still, the scenery was spectacular and I'm sure the doctor would give me two thumbs up for the cardio benefits.

The groomers were hard at work though with the heavy snow fall it was actually difficult to tell in spots. Regardless, their efforts are appreciated.

IMG_6640 Ski groomer

We started out with no real destination or plan and in the end we ended up skiing the reverse loop of my last ski trip to Western. P10 start to Trail 3, to Trail 1, and then from 1B down black diamond 9 to the Western Hut. A highly recommended route.

Marc tests out the new skis Ski rack at Western

These last few photos were taken only days apart and should give you a bit of an idea of the difference a fresh snow fall can make.

Trail 9 to Western Trail 9 to Western
Sunny day in the GAT White out

Update: The snow is wet and slowly melting but so far the rain is holding off.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Walking the dog

Amber at Bruce Pit

My parents were in town visiting the grand kids and dropping off imported stroopwafels from the motherland. Saturday morning we watched the kids play Futsal and then rushed back home to catch more of the Olympics.

Sunday morning we took Amber for a stroll through the Bruce Pit dog park. Having never really been around this many strange dogs before (only cows) Amber fared quite well. After only a couple of barking incidents in the parking lot she was as good as gold and thoroughly enjoyed the multi-dog-cultural tour through the park.

IMG_6577 Culvert crawling

We had brought along a couple of tennis balls but with so many new sights and smells (don't ask) there was no way that this dog was going to fetch a boring old ball. Needless to say she slept well Sunday afternoon.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Pond hockey

The shot

Family Day... a great day for some pond hockey.

The kids and I packed up some gear and a thermos of hot chocolate and headed out to play some hackey (not to be confused with hockey) on one of the many ponds in the Marlborough forest. I was out here the Monday before when the ice was windswept and clear of snow but since then we'd had a few centimeters that required a bit of shoveling off with the hockey stick. Normally a lot of work but knowing that the kids had never played pond hockey before (and that I didn't have the lungs for a full NHL rink) we only cleared a small patch of ice for our big match.

Crossing the pond Team vT
Lacing up Stick please

I grew up playing road hockey and backyard rink hockey so it was nice to relive some old memories. We had a great time and the kids are already asking if we can head out again.

Beaver dam Danger, deep water area

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Winterlude 2010

Winterlude 2010

Today we decided to take advantage of the sun and warm weather to strap on the blades and skate the Rideau. We started late in the afternoon from Dow's Lake and skated the entire length (7.8 km) to Confederation Park.

7 km marker Ile Pig

Conditions were perfect so it was no surprise that today was likely the busiest day on the canal that I've seen in a long time. The Beaver Tail line-ups were enormous and even the skates between the touristy spots were thick with skaters of all shapes and sizes and ages. That said, I was surprised to see that the ice was holding up quite well.

Bacon Bunner Free IGOR samples

Once we reached Confederation Park we packed up the skates and waded through the crowds to see the ice sculptures and other Winterlude activities. I think we had just missed the throat singers when we arrived but having seen this freak show once before on Canada Day I was counting myself lucky on that one.

Witches' Brew Mermaid in ice
Butterflies in ice Recycled snake

By day's end we decided to take the shuttle bus back to Dow's Lake in order to make it home in time to cook up some supper.

Sundown on the canal at Dow's Lake
Sundown on Dow's Lake

Monday, February 08, 2010

Marlborough meander

Rideau Trail - Dwyer Hill Rd sign

Slipped out to get some fresh air after playing nurse for my wife who is working her way through a nasty flu bug. Given the late start I decided to drive away from the city centre and head south to the Marlborough Forest.

A clean sheet Snow shadows

They call this a forest but it's really more swamp than forest. In the summer the bugs make it completely unapproachable. Spring time is prime for some mudfest mountain biking. Fall is duck season and gun happy hillbillies. Personally I enjoy the Marlborough area most in the winter - no bugs, no buckshot, and lots of ice making it easy to navigate the swampy bits.

Spring mudfest
Marlboro Man mud ride I'm in the mud and the mud's in me.
Use trail at your own risk Marlborough Forest - Rogers Pond
Winter clean fun

The last time I hiked through here was in March of last year with the kids. (see blog) We had a great time sliding around on the stump riddled pond and roasting wieners by the shelter. I keep meaning to bring some skates out here but have yet to actually carry that thought through. Maybe this weekend....

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Wild weekend with the Weirs

Danger, thin ice

This was Weirzee Weekend. Planned a year in advance with much hype and anticipation. There were a couple of bumps but in the end we didn't let them slow us down and we managed to turn it around into another van Tol-Weir success story.

Saturday the van Tol clan hit the indoor pitch for 3 games of soccer while Sue's cousin Heather popped by for a visit. By noon it was obvious that Cassie was not going to be up for the planned festivities so Twig hung back while the rest of the gang headed to Dow's Lake for some Winterlude action.

Bedzzz Race
The gang on ice Beavertails on the Rideau Canal

After our tour de Winterlude I took the older kids to Bruce Pit for some toboggan races. Always fun. And this time nobody got hurt which is always a bonus. Click here for a short video.

Bruce Pit toboggan run

Outdoor action wrapped up it was time to dig into the famous Twigman's mammoth lasagna. Tasty.

Later that night the "adults" managed to get a second wind before slapping on the axe and hammering out some classic tunes on Guitar Hero. Nice to see I still have it after my 2 year hiatus.

Rockin' on with Twig Rockin' on with Guitar Hero
Twig (Feb 2010) and Tripper (Dec 2007)

Sunday was a short day as the Twig-Sue and crew had to leave by noon. That said the kids stayed indoors and did some electronic bonding.

Connecting with NDS
Emma and Cassie New best buds

Update... this flu bug is still knocking off attendees of the Weirzee Weekend one by one taking out an additional two last night (one from either side). Let's hope they feel better soon and more importantly let's hope that this is the end of the nasty virus. Fingers crossed.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Groomers work their magic

Welcome to Huron

Gatineau Park: P7 to Huron (13 km)
P7 Kingsmere: N45 32.221 W75 53.968
Huron: N45 30.342 W75 53.980
Click here for a trail map.

We had some out of town company coming for the weekend so I decided to squeeze in some "me time" on the trails. The weather was spot on and even though we still hadn't had any fresh snowfall, the groomers were still able to work their magic. Hats off to them, but seriously, how long can this go on? We need snow!!

With only a small window of opportunity, I chose to ski out from P7 knowing that it would leave me with several hut options for my lunch time break.

Lines lines Wattsford lookout
The approach is steep but the view is well worth it.

Passing Keogan I noticed that nobody had yet started the fire so I kept on skiing to the lookout before checking in at Huron.

A GAT view with Tripper

Huron was fire-less (boo) and empty (yea). Rather than spark up the wood stove I decided to test out my new backpacking stove. It worked like a charm and minutes later I was sipping a chicken noodle supreme cup-a-soup with a side of toasted grill cheese on rye.

Huron in an outhouse frame Lunch time at Huron

On the way back I noticed that somebody had started a fire in Keogan so I skied down and stepped inside to enjoy the warmth and a pint. There were two mothers inside with their wee ones enjoying what appeared to be a smorgasbord. All four were enjoying themselves which proves again that Gatineau and the outdoors is for all ages.

Babies love skiing in Gatineau too

Shortly after, we were flooded by a gaggle of grade 7 and 8 students on a day pass. Very busy. Time to go.