Monday, April 26, 2010

Colour returns to the GAT

I see red
Spring in the GAT Yellow flower

Gatineau Park: Bleakney and Wood Trails (11 km)
Parking (Larrimac Golf): N45 33.251 W075 49.700
Tunnel crossing: N45 32.816 W075 50.561

A great day of hiking in Gatineau Park (as are all Mondays). The sun was shining and still the bugs were sleeping. More importantly the colours of spring have begun to pop up through the rusty dead leaves.

This was a new trailhead leading into the GAT for me. I parked at the Larrimac golf course and strolled down the cart path to the start of the trail. My full concentration was on spotting the entrance to the woods as I crossed the green adjusting my pack. My focus broke when I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and realized that it was a 70 year old man patiently doing practice swings at the tee. Yikes. Starting the day with a golf ball to the side of the head would not be a good thing.

Tunnel under the highway Please leave me

The highway crossing to the park is two massive tunnels under the divided highway. Whoever designed this must have been a hiker and/or skier. Though I have seen photos of wildlife overpasses used regularly by bear and deer before so I imagine they'd appreciate these tunnels too (as would the drivers).

The hike consisted of a lot of ups and downs (and unders) and several beaver dam crossings between ponds. No doubt a couple of weeks from now this area will be swarming with blackflies though I have no intention of coming back then to verify that theory.

GAT pondGAT pond

My lunch stop was smack in the middle of the trail on a sun warmed stretch of exposed rock. A relaxing day all in all.

Lunch on the trail

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Weekend in VT


Google Map: Ottawa to Burlington, VT

This weekend was our long planned and overdue trip to Vermont. The kids had a PD day on Friday so we made the most of it and pulled the trigger on another great hotel deal. Bang!

I wasn't too fond of the idea of driving through Montreal's Friday morning traffic so we crossed at Cornwall and headed straight for the Lake Champlain Ferry at Cumberland Head. A mere 15 minutes later and we were on Vermont soil. Sweet.

Crossing from NY to VT
Vermont Ferry Ferry from VT to NY

Minutes later we were browsing the aisles of Burlington's Costco and scoring a deal or two before heading down to our hotel on the waterfront.

View from the Hilton
View from the top floor of the Hilton hotel.

The weekend forecast brought blue skies and sunshine providing the perfect backdrop for this picturesque town.

Burlington Town Center

Saturday morning we took a drive out to the nearby mountains and on Kenmore's advice we made the climb up the switchbacks to the viewpoint at Appalachian Gap. To get a feel for the road, check out this guy's Appalachian Gap youtube clip taken on his motorbike.

Steep climb Snowshoe Trail - Mad River Glen

On the way back we passed through a small town where the kids spotted a rather colourful cow. Not able to resist the photo op I turned the van around the stopped to chat with the artist painting this unique masterpiece. Turns out there will be a few of these types of images strategically planted here and there across Vermont. This one will be heading to the Burlington area. Keep an eye out for it.

Marc Hughes and his cow
Marc Hughes website

It was a great weekend and in hindsight our timing was perfect as just days later Vermont was hit with a big dump of snow. Nearly 12 inches in some areas.

For our next visit we plan on soaking in VT with a little more hiking.

Hiking in VT

Monday, April 19, 2010

Falls and Fire Tower Tour 2010

Luskville fire tower

Gatineau Park: Luskville Falls and fire tower (5.8 km)
Parking Luskville: N45 31.965 W75 59.840
Fire tower: N45 32.669 W75 59.753

It's that time of the year again. Spring has arrived and so has the time to hike up Luskville Falls to the fire tower. Joining us this year to mark year five was Ken, Mike, Dave, and Bryce.

Green Snake Fire tower

Once again the weather was spot on. After the usual halfway pitstop we continued on to the top where we really kicked back and relaxed while we enjoyed some lunch and beverages.

Luskville Falls First view point Spring

Those that climb Bryce makes his way up... slowly Green Snake

All too soon we were packing up and heading back down to the parking lot. You just can't beat a spring hike on a sunny day. Soon the foliage will be back on the trees (greatly limiting the views) and the bugs will be thirsty (greatly limiting the desire to stop for the views). You learn to take it while you can I suppose.

Cheers until next year!!

Group shot

Here are links to the previous annual Luskville Falls and Fire Tower hikes.
April 21, 2006
April 21, 2007
April 21, 2008
April 25, 2009

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Early spring hike to Lusk

Dave contemplates a lumberjack moment

Gatineau Park: P19 Lac Philippe to Lac Lusk (12 km)
P19 Lac Philippe: N45 37.394 W76 00.546
Lac Lusk: N45 35.100 W76 00.772

The last two years on this day or later I've skied into Lusk Cabin. Both times we were able to make the entire trek from P19 to Lusk with out having to take off the boards and walk. This year there was not a splash of snow in sight. Hiking season is open!

Dave and I laced up the boots and headed out from P19 around 10am. We were the only car in the parking lot (what's up with that?). As we were getting out of the van I noticed one of the workers unlocking the gate that blocked the road down to the campground. My hopes started to rise as I thought we were going to be able to drive down to a better (read closer) parking spot and save ourselves the boring trek on the paved road. Alas it was not to be. They unlocked, drove through with their truck, and quickly locked the gate behind them. Turns out they were collecting the xc ski signs. Guess that makes it official - ski season is over. :(

Renaud Cabin

After a brief stop at Renaud Cabin we arrived at Lusk Lake around 12:30. Just in time for some lunch. For me it was turkey and salami on freshly made cheese bread washed down with a pint of Grolsch. Very tasty. Dave opted for a Subway sandwich and some of his kids' chocolate Easter bunny washed down with a couple of cans of Pepsi Max. None of this sounds overly healthy but we knew we were going to burn it all off by the end of this hike so wtf.

Lusk Cabin Spring flowers
Turtle Beaver house

For contrast, here are the blogs from the previous two years. What a difference.

year 2008: Last ski of the season in Gatineau Park
year 2009: Lazying at Lusk

Tripper at Lusk Cabin Lusk Cabin

Monday, April 05, 2010

Easter weekend 2010

Amber tricks

This year's Easter brought some amazing weather. With temperatures reaching 28°C, we spent the entire weekend in shorts enjoying the sunshine and a bug-free outdoors.

Every visitor that dropped by my parent's house was greeted with several demonstrations of Amber's new hay bale jumping trick. One by one the guests filtered through - the Shepstones, the Weirs (and one Corrigan-soon-to-be-Weir), the Fifes,... it was a steady flow. Luckily this dog is eager to please. She didn't even flinch when the landing bail dwindled down to about half its original size thanks to everybody feeding it to the cows. Do they ever stop eating?

After the dog tricks, guests were divided into groups - some received pints on the back deck and others were treated to rides on the pet cow, BBQ. Thankfully the groups were selected on age and not random draws.

Cowgirl Delaney Delaney and Sara give Amber a belly rub

Walks were a pleasure given the lack of mosquitoes and black-flies. Even the low lying swampy bits were surprisingly bug-less. And if the earsplitting racket being made by the frogs is any indication, it just might stay that way.

Pond crossing Maple leaf
Queuing up for rides Emma and Amber Feeding time

Finally Easter morning arrived and we all raced out to find chocolate eggs. The race was mainly against the heat of the sun before it melted everything and we had to hand out straws. Good times.

Easter Egg hunt

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Warsaw Caves hike

Indian River lookout

Sunday morning we decided to take advantage of another stellar weather day and head out to Warsaw Caves. The actual caves were still a little too cold and ice filled to do any spelunking so we stuck to the hiking trails.

Warsaw Caves Kettle

Everybody enjoyed themselves and we'll have to make an effort to return for some spelunking once the caves warm up.

Spring picnic Bat at Warsaw Caves