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Guess What? A Great Hike at Oka!

There was a light rain falling as I drove to Oka, but it had mostly stopped by the time I arrived at 9:45 am. I knew from experience that this bit of rain would be enough to keep most others away. I was fully expecting to hike alone, but one other member did show up, undaunted by the prospect of a small amount of dampness. 
The scene at Oka was quite the contrast from our last several visits, which always took place on the crowded Thanksgiving weekend. There were only five cars in the parking lot and two of them were ours. It was unseasonably warm at 15 C. As we traversed the parking lot to start the hike, a bit of light rain began falling again. But as soon as we entered the woods, the overhead canopy of branches shielded us completely. About 30 minutes into the hike, the rain stopped altogether. At times, there was a magical mist hanging in the air. 
The hiking conditions were very pleasant. The wide, well-maintained trails were free of mud. And with so few people on the trails, it was delightfully quiet. At the summit with the three chapels, the mist had lifted and we had an unhindered view of the surrounding region. Once again, the peacefulness of the hike was impressed upon us. Instead of the crowds of people we usually see at the summit, we had the place to ourselves. Indeed, we descended the remaining 2 km along the Calvaire trail without seeing another person until we returned to the parking lot. 
We covered 8.2 km in 2h 15m. It was 18 C at the end. It was a marvellously pleasant morning to hike at Oka.

SOS at Cap St Jacques

SOS (Sunny October Sunday), 12 walkers and 1 runner responded to this call as well as runners and walkers for a Heart and Stroke event taking place at CSJ that morning. Not only that but our group must have had decades of experience in walking and skiing at CSJ so the odds on getting lost were extremely high especially as parts of the Rabbit are closed in summer and Fall, and we did not have ski tracks to follow.

So off we set, happily walking to the farm where we were greeted by tents, food and music, sadly not for us. It was after the farm that the trails are closed, however we could bring into bear our combined CSJ experience and spend several minutes discussing which way to go, needless to say we could not agree on which direction only we should head for the beach.

So the beach was reached, no takers for swimming, then off to see the turtles. No turtles in sight, only those behind the barrier! Now homeward bound we were lucky enough to find the way back to the chalet, only back tracking on one occasion.

Of course there were a few formalities to end the walk:

  1. Visit the washrooms
  2. Thank the walk leader, whoever that was
  3. Discuss who had the correct measured distance on their Smart phone, smart watch, gps or piece of string.

A good day with enjoyable company.  Keith Rhodes

Gai Luron — Party Perfect Conditions for Six BTers

Dave Inglis’s report

What would happen if the Beaver Tail end-of-season party was held at a ski centre promising excellent conditions for the last ski of the season?  I assume everyone would attend, no?  Such was the case at the club’s Sunday destination, Gai Luron.  With the thick blanket of new fresh snow we received Friday and given the unpredictable snow conditions this season, either excellent or poor, one had to act fast (read: get out and ski!) for best conditions.  I conclude those Beaver Tail members who did not get out for the last ski at Gai Luron were too busy at home pushing the vacuum.  For the six members who skied: Tom, Mickey, Sharon, Jessica, Luc and myself, the day was indeed party-perfect!

The trail conditions at Gai Luron never disappoint because their grooming is excellent.  The grooming tractor was out at 6:00 am and completed all trails in two hours, well in Continue reading “Gai Luron — Party Perfect Conditions for Six BTers”

Mont St Bruno — 16 Enjoy A Ski Outing Fit For Shakespeare

In William Shakespeare’s 1592 play Richard III, it begins with Richard standing on the Mount St. Bruno ski trails saying, “Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious ski conditions by the sun of St. Bruno / And all the clouds that lour’d upon the trails / In the deep snows of the ocean buried.” It was written as a tragedy but in reference to this ski season, a comedy would be more appropriate. This ski season has been either comic (amazing) or tragic (lousy). What began as a promising season in December (snow!) yielded to the January thaw (rain… grumble, grumble), a mid-February snow blessed us then more rain and the recent 40 cm snow we received last week… yo-yo ski conditions? Indeed.
The last decent club Sunday outing was at Oka, February 18th, possibly the last ski for most members as confessed, myself included, at Sunday’s destination to Mount St. Bruno. With the 40 cm snowfall last Tuesday, I skied at CSJ on Thursday and Friday to “awake” my dormant ski muscles for Mount St. Bruno. The ski centre did not disappoint for the 16 Beaver Tailers in attendance.

The club has not skied Mount St. Bruno in two years namely due to the poor conditions last year and with all 27 km of their ski trails open Sunday with new snow, the choice Continue reading “Mont St Bruno — 16 Enjoy A Ski Outing Fit For Shakespeare”

Four BTers at the PTdN — The Skiing Was Just Fine!

I blame myself.  Clearly, I waited too long to send out my e-mail about skiing on Sun at Gai Luron or the P’tit Train du Nord.  I sent it out on Sat afternoon at 3:30 pm.  It’s no wonder only two people opted in.  I’m SURE if I had sent it first thing Sat morning, dozens of you would have turned out.  I’m sure it was the late notice that dissuaded you and not the cold weather and the prospect of icy trail conditions.  Indeed, many of the people I canvassed at the EOS Party mumbled that they had already made other plans.  It seemed that most of those plans involved staying in bed as late as possible on Sun morning…

Given the fast conditions, me and the two other opt-in skiers (Mickey and Sharon, of course) decided to ski on the flatter PTdN.  I made my way up to Mont Rolland (Saint-Adèle) for 11 am DST to meet them.  We had the later than usual start since we lost an hour during the night with the change to Daylight Saving Time.  The parking lot was not very crowded, go figure.  It was -17 C (felt like -24 with the wind).  I’ve skied in much colder weather, so the temperature was not an issue.  The trail conditions were another matter.  The PTdN people are good at grooming their trail, but the thaws and lack of new snow had left the tracks hard and icy.

I had optimistically applied green wax at home, but Mickey and the guy at Espresso Sports advised me that klister was a better bet.  The universal klister I had brought with me is rated for -5 C to +10 C, but I figured Continue reading “Four BTers at the PTdN — The Skiing Was Just Fine!”

EOS Party — 34 Feasters Celebrated the End(?) of the Season

Last Saturday evening we held the “End of Season” Party.  But it is hard to predict when the x-c ski season will actually end.  As we made our way to Sushi St Jean, it certainly did not feel like the end of winter was at hand, what with a temperature of -17 C, before the wind chill.  And although the ski conditions have been somewhat dismal of late, there is snow in the forecast for Tue, followed by favourably cool temps.  The ski season may just spring back to life.  Maybe we should call it the SNO Party! — the Season’s Not Over Party!

Whatever you want to call it, 34 Beaver Tailers gathered at 7 pm at the all-you-can-eat sushi (and more) restaurant in Pointe Claire on boul. St Jean.  We had four large tables in the corner of the restaurant, so it felt like Continue reading “EOS Party — 34 Feasters Celebrated the End(?) of the Season”

Mont Tremblant Picnic — 25 BTers Feasted on Great Skiing and Food

For the first time in four years, we had a day-trip to Parc du Mont Tremblant, featuring our legendary picnic.  It’s a tradition that started over 20 years ago.  But it had been on hiatus the last three years.  For those years, the club had a full weekend up in the Mont Tremblant area and so many of us still skied at the park on those occasions.  But with a big supper waiting for us at the hotel, having a big picnic meal in the afternoon never made sense.

The timing was perfect to spend a day at Tremblant.  The freezing rain we got a few days earlier, and which had rendered most local ski trails hard and icy, had not reached as far north as Tremblant.  Instead, they just got lots of snow, so we knew conditions would be excellent.  After the 2-hour drive, we gathered up at the Centre de Découverte at 10 am.  This chalet opened three years ago, so for some members who had not been to the park in a while, it was a surprise to see the new parking lot location and the spiffy new building.  It was a good bit colder (-15 C) than many of us expected and some scrambled to add an extra layer of clothing.  After buying the ski ticket and waxing skis, we were off at 10:30 am.
Most of us spent the next two hours skiing Continue reading “Mont Tremblant Picnic — 25 BTers Feasted on Great Skiing and Food”

Lots of Snow and Good Skiing at Parc des Campeurs

All things considered, we have had a pretty decent ski season so far this winter.  We have had some thaws and bouts of rain, but it has never been enough to wipe out the ski conditions entirely, at least not for more than a couple of days.  Most days we have been able to ski and the trail conditions are often surprisingly good.  Yesterday’s club outing was a case in point.  The ten BTers who were at Parc des Campeurs in Ste Agathe had another very good day of skiing!
It turns out that on Friday night up north they had a good dump of snow.  In Ste Agathe, they got 15 cm.  So all the trails at Parc des Campeurs were open and in great shape.  As we drove north on Sun morning, it began to snow as we left the city.  When we arrived at the ski centre, we found that they had received another four cm of snow and it was still falling lightly.  The temp was -8 C and there was no wind.  They had groomed all the trails on Sat and they decided not to re-groom them on Sun.  This was fine with us as it gave us a thin layer of fresh snow to ski on.
After getting our skis and gear ready, buying our ticket ($14, not bad!), we took the group photo and set out at 10 am.  We broke up into a few groups according to speed.  In my group, we skied on a good variety of the intermediate and difficult trails.  We took Continue reading “Lots of Snow and Good Skiing at Parc des Campeurs”

Gorgeous Weekend of Skiing at Gatineau

What a weekend!  We had 30 Beaver Tail members at the hotel, plus five others who were in Ottawa and joined us on the trails and/or for dinner.  (Two people had to drop out due to illness.)  This was the first time time in four years we had spent the weekend in Ottawa and Gatineau Park.  We had been there three other times in recent years, in 2011, 2012 and 2013.  Among those of us who had attended all four times, it was agreed that this year we easily had the best two days of skiing.  Fresh snow, well-groomed trails, and comfortable temperatures made for ideal ski conditions on both Sat and Sun.
Let’s go through highlights.
FRIDAY
A few of us arrived early enough to get in a ski (or fat bike!) outing on Friday at Gatineau Park.  It was -2 C with occasional sun.  Violet wax worked great all day.

During the afternoon, we all checked into the Novotel Hotel in downtown Ottawa, located next to the Byward Market.  It’s the same place we stayed the last three times.  It just seems to have the perfect combination of location and quality for us.  Unfortunately, the warmer weather of the last couple of weeks meant we could not go skating on the nearby Rideau canal that day or the rest of the weekend.

At 6:30 pm, those of us who were interested in going out somewhere nearby for supper gathered in the lobby.  Our weekend organizer, Cheryl, had walked around the neighbourhood that afternoon and had made a reservation for 15 at a nice pizzeria.  When we ended up being 26 in the lobby, she called the restaurant and they were able to set aside more spots.  So we all walked two blocks to The Grand Pizzeria and Bar on George St and found three large adjacent tables waiting for us.  It was something of a minor miracle that such a large group of us were able to find a place to eat so close by!  The food was good, the service was efficient and we were out of there by 9 pm.  Good thing too, because many of us were looking to get to bed early to get ready for the next day.

SATURDAY MORNING

We began gathering for breakfast at 7 am in the hotel’s dining room (nicely redecorated since our last visit).  In between too-frequent visits to the sumptuous breakfast buffet, we took turns studying the large map of the Gatineau trails and discussed where to ski.  The consensus was to depart the hotel at 9 am and meet at one of two locations — P9/P10 for those who wanted a long ski on intermediate trails and and P2 for those who wanted a mix of easy & intermediate trails and also wanted a building where they could wax and use a washroom indoors.  (The P9/P10 locations only have outhouses).

I arrived a bit early at P10.  It is a smaller parking lot and me and four other BTers in two cars got the last three spots.  I texted to the others to instead go to P9, which is 1 km further along the trail and has a larger lot.  Those of us from P10 skied down to meet the others at P9.  There were some delays — Cheryl’s car had been broken into 🙁  — but the P9/P10 group finally met up and began skiing.
The temperature was -4 C and there was a couple of cm of fresh snow.  A cooler violet wax worked well.  Most of us in my group took the parkway up to the number 3 intermediate trail towards the Champlain lookout.  The no. 3 is a pleasantly undulating 4-km long trail through the woods.  We skied by the Champlain lookout and the Western cabin.  We eventually returned on the number 3 trail.  We skied on average between 20-26 km.  After the ski, some people from both the P2 and P9 groups stopped in at the Chelsea Pub.
SATURDAY EVENING
Some of us gathered before dinner for drinks in the swish bar just off the lobby.  (This bar is also new since our last visit.)  At 7 pm Continue reading “Gorgeous Weekend of Skiing at Gatineau”

Lovely Skiing at Oka For Those Who Dared

I know many of you are apprehensive of going to a ski centre and paying for a ski ticket when you are not sure how good the conditions will be.  It did not help that in my update message on Friday, I was not super confident about the skiing based on the forecast of another above 0 C day.  So it was not so surprising there were only two of us at Oka last Sun.
But it was a real shame, because it turned out to be a lovely day of skiing.  Despite the recent thaws, they still have a good base.  There were no bare spots.  Yes, it was a steady +2 C for the time we skied.  But it really was not an issue.  I used universal klister and Glenn K used his waxless “skin” skis.  We keep pace with each other all morning.
All 25 km of their trails were billed as open.  We decided to do the full-length of the number 3 trail, which is 14 km long.  It was in fine condition, except for the eastern-most section in the hills.  The problem on that part was not the weather, but that a Continue reading “Lovely Skiing at Oka For Those Who Dared”