Sat & Sun Mar 17-18 — Skiing and Partying Like the Season is Almost Over

Although we keep thinking the end of the cross-country ski season is ​imminent, you would never know it by the great ski conditions we had last weekend!

At Cap St Jacques, they extended their trail grooming activities by a week, a few days after they said they were done for the year. There were nine of us there on Sat morning enjoying the -7 C temps. Meanwhile at our other designated Sat morning destination of Mount Royal, I had reports of six members out and about. After dealing with tricky damp snow after the mid-week snowfall, the colder temps brought us snow with superb glide.

Despite the midwinter-like snow and ski conditions, we went ahead with our End of Season (EOS) Party on Sat evening. Forty-four of us got together at Natalino’s in Dorval in the private dining room on the second floor. We spent the first hour mingling and talking over drinks. Of course, the most important topic was: Where should we go skiing the next morning! A consensus quickly formed around the idea of going to Gai Luron. I duly tweeted and e-mailed that decision to the membership from my phone as we sat down for dinner.

The rest of the evening was spent eating, drinking, chatting and laughing. After the main course, I got the crowd’s attention and delivered a few words of thanks to all the people who have helped with particular roles or club events during the past season. I also gently reminded everyone that, after 18 years as president of the club, this really and truly is my last year. Not that I lack confidence that you will all respect my decision to step down, but just to be sure, I have already booked flights for next fall and winter that will take me to other countries many time zones away.

The EOS Party was a great success. Many thanks to Cheryl Walker for organizing this wonderful cap-off to our season!

But like I said, the season is not done just yet. The next morning at Gai Luron, no fewer than 13 BTers assembled on a cold and sunny morning. Go figure! We’ve been trying to get people up to Gai Luron and the PTdN the last few Sundays, but we never had more than four skiers turn out. But now that the end of season is at hand, it’s like people are saying, “Oh! I’d better get out and ski before it’s too late!” Maybe next year we should hold the EOS party in early February, if that’s the trigger to get people out.

Anyway, it was a spectacular day at Gai Luron. When we arrived, the board outside the chalet said it was -16 C, but it was warming up fast and it was already -13 C when we started shortly after 10 am. Mind you, it was sunny and there was no wind, so it did not feel cold. And by the time we were finishing up at around 1 pm, it had already reached -6 C.

The trails at Gai Luron were, as expected, in excellent condition. All of them were open, including the narrow, single-track B and C loops off the L trail that wind through the woods. After completing the L+B+C trail, four of us went off to do the G trail. Shortly after the start of it, there is a sign for a turn off to a “vue panoramique”. We usually ski past that sign, but on this nice day we decided to ski up the hill to the view point. One can see far off to the east and south. Indeed, on this especially clear day, we could look towards Montreal and see Mt Royal, the buildings of downtown and even the Olympic Stadium jutting up in the east end. After a great morning of skiing at Gai Luron, some of us took advantage of the bench outside the waxing cabin to lounge in the sun.

It was a magnificent weekend of skiing. And judging by the weather forecast, it looks like we will have at least one more good weekend of skiing!

Skiing Was Good at CSJ & PTdN

Sat & Sun Mar 3-4 – Skiing Was Good at CSJ & PTdN

It may not feel like it to a lot of you, but we still likely have a few weeks of cross-country skiing ahead of us! It’s only early March and our last skiers standing often have their last outing in early April, usually on the P’tit Train du Nord (PTdN). Indeed, there was lots of good skiing to be had last weekend.

Yes, the temperatures on Sat and Sun were flirting with 0 C or a few degrees above. But that did not deter our hardy Beaver Tailers. On Sat at Cap St Jacques (CSJ), there were five BTers there to ski (plus me, nursing a cold and taking photos). It was +3 C at 10 am but the trails were otherwise fine. The green and yellow trails were freshly groomed and the skiers reported decent conditions.

For the Sun outing planned for Gai Luron, four of us opted in. But late on Sat evening, based on the conditions and weather forecast, we decided as a group to switch the destination to the PTdn at Mont Rolland (in Ste-Adèle). It was 0 C and snowing as the four of us readied our skies at 10 am. Sharon donned her waxless skis, while Mickey, Monique and I decided to go with our regular skis. We started out together.

Sharon soon fell a bit behind the other three of us. But the temperature was changing and getting good grip was difficult. We three soon stopped to put on more wax. Sharon sailed by us as we did. We continued skiing but long before we could ever catch Sharon, we had to stop to re-wax a couple of more times. We never did see Sharon again — she was just too fast for us! It must have been all the birthday cake she had for breakfast (yes, it was her birthday on Sun). Monique and I turned back, leaving Mickey to continue and chase down Sharon. I’m not sure if he ever caught her either.

These two outings showed there is still a good base of snow out there. The daily above freezing temps are eating away at it, but doing it slowly. And as we saw here in town on Sun afternoon, we sometimes still get some snow to freshen up the trails. So try to get out there at least once more this season!

Sun Feb 26 — Great Ski Conditions at Gai Luron!

​As I advised in last week’s update message, the forecast for Gai Luron was promising. But since it was not a sure thing, I made the outing “Opt In”. As of late Sat the forecast was still for -4 C and 5 cm of snow at Saint Jerome on Sun morning. Looking out the window early that morning here on the island, it was easy to be doubtful, as the streets were bare and there was only crusty old snow on the lawns.

I guess that’s why there were only two of us who opted to venture to Gai Luron. As we drove up north, the snow began to fall. When we arrived, we had to take care not to slip on the bare ice of the parking lot. An attendant arrived on an ATV and helped out by spreading gravel. As we prepared to ski, it was indeed around -4 C and it was starting to snow heavily. We applied blue extra and off we went.

We set out on the 8-km trail L, the one rated “expert”. The snow coming down was a bit granular but it quickly deposited a fresh layer of snow in the tracks. The blue extra gave excellent grip. The B and C loops were closed, so the big test of the conditions was at the end of the L where there is a long, sweeping descent. By the time we reached it, enough snow had fallen to make it very easy to negotiate. We coasted back to the main chalet.

After a quick addition of some more blue extra wax, we went to trail A, which is intermediate and about 4.5-km long. The snow continued to fall with varying degrees of intensity. We had originally thought to stop after that, but the skiing was just so enjoyable we immediately set off to also do trail G, intermediate and 3.5-km long. We ended up with 16 km skied in just over 2 hours. It felt great! When we returned to the parking lot, the ice was now under a thick layer of snow.

As has so often been the case over the years, Gai Luron delivered magnificent ski conditions on a day when things looked dismal back in town. It’s too bad more members were not there to share the experience. As I have said before, the following old adage applies well to cross-country skiing: “Ninety percent of success is showing up!”

15 Overjoyed skiers at Oka

15 Overjoyed Skiers at Oka – Sun Feb 11

What a great weekend of skiing. It’s been so long that we have had such marvelous ski conditions that we had almost forgotten how good it can be! We had 16 skiers at CSJ on Sat and then we had 15 skiers make the trip to Oka on Sun. Let’s talk about Oka.

I arrived at 9:30 am, a half-hour ahead of our official start time. The parking lot and chalet were not too full– they would both be much busier later on when we would be leaving. I encountered two keen BTers who were already on their skis and getting a head start. The rest of the gang drifted in and got their skis ready.

We got going shortly after 10 am and most of us headed in the direction of trail 3, which is a 15-km loop if you do the full thing. It was cloudy and -7 C, and the blue V30 wax was working well. The snow and the tracks on the freshly groomed trails were in perfect condition.

As we progressed at different speeds, we spread out and broke into sub-groups. I was feeling a bit ambitious on this day and I decided to see if I could keep up with our faster skiers — Mickey, Ghyslaine and Scott. We glided along to the eastern end of trail 3, where there is a 5-km loop that makes up the intermediate (blue) and difficult (black) parts of the trail. I chased them around the loop, up and down the many hills, and caught up with them at the end of the loop, just in time to hear them say, “let’s do that again”. So off we went again. This time I had a tougher time keeping them in sight. But they waited for me at the end of the loop. Then we went back again, but this time only for the first 1.4-km part of the loop, turning off at the point where it goes from being rated as intermediate to difficult. We finally headed back towards the chalet, with no let-up in the average speed. We covered 21.4 km in 2h 14m.

We met up with others in the chalet and some of us sat down to eat our packed lunch. Much of the conversation was about how brilliant the skiing had been. I set out for home at 1:30 pm, just as the freezing rain began to fall. It took a good bit of extra windshield washing fluid to maintain a good view of the road, but the rain did not otherwise cause any traffic problems or delays.

It had been well worth the trip to Oka to enjoy skiing that had us over the moon!

A Great Weekend of Skiing – Morin Heights and Mont St Bruno

A Great Weekend of SkiingSat at Morin Heights for our annual Ski Clinic & Sun at Mont St Bruno

We finally had a weekend of wonderful ski conditions. On Sat we were north at Morin Heights for the Ski Clinic and on Sun we went south to Mont St Bruno.

SAT AT MORIN HEIGHTS

At Morin Heights, we had an “informal” ski outing at 10 am, for those who wanted to ski before the clinic started at 1 pm. There were six of us who arrived early. Yes, it was -20 C when we walked outside at 10 am. But there was no wind and the sun was shining brightly. We all had the same reaction — this feels warmer than -20 C. We split up into three pairs — some went along the aerobic corridor and some on the other trails. Mickey and I set out to do an “abbreviated Triangle”. We set out on trail #2 Triangle, up and over Mt Bellevue. We then took trail #4 Salzbourg. At the point where we would have rejoined trail #2 to do the rest of the triangle, we turned onto trail #37 Bellevue to take us back up and towards the chalet d’accueil. We covered 12 km in 2 hours, and that got us back in time to get ready for the ski clinic. It was the first time this year I had skied on non-flat trails in the woods — and it was just so wonderful!

We gathered in the chalet at 12:30 pm to get ready for the ski clinic. There were 16 of us this year. Glenn K got us sorted into our groups and matched with our instructors. When we went out at 1 pm, it had warmed up to -14 C, under still sunny skies. Each group went off in a different direction and had a lesson that lasted from 1.5 to 2 hours. We gathered back at the chalet and compared notes. Everyone reported having a good time and improving their skiing technique. The first-timers were especially impressed by and appreciative of the experience.

Many thanks to Glenn for again organizing a successful ski clinic!

A word about the Chalet Bellevue at Morin Heights. The impressive-looking older building has been extensively renovated since they first purchased it two years ago. The area for skiers is now in the ground-level area and has great facilities: tables and chairs, ticket booth, waxing room, bathrooms, etc. They don’t have much food, but they have plans to improve that. There is still the small building beside the aerobic corridor, as well as a small booth across the road in the Bellevue parking lot. You can buy a trail ticket at any of the three spots.

Speaking of great things in Morin Heights, after the ski clinic ten of us stopped at Mickey’s Café on chemin du Village. It was the second year we were there and it is a very pleasant spot for an après-ski coffee or snack. It was a perfect cap-off to an enjoyable day!

SUN AT MONT ST BRUNO

On Sun the weather was milder and the snow was falling. The snowy roads may have deterred some of you from venturing to the South Shore. There were only five of us at Mont St Bruno — and I was only there to say hello and take some photos before I had to go off to a conflicting appointment. (Look for the photo of me shedding a tear at having to miss out on the great conditions.)

It was -3 C and snowing at 10 am. All the trails were open and rated as “excellent”. The chalet was buzzing with skiers, even if few of them were Beaver Tailers. Our skiers set off for a good day of skiing.

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As I drove away at 10:25 am, a long line of cars had formed on the road leading to the ticket booths. Hopefully we will have excellent ski and snowshoeing conditions on the remaining Sundays of the season to make up for a disappointing January.

Tremblant Weekend — 41 BTers Had a Wonderful Time

Tremblant Weekend — 41 BTers Had a Wonderful Time

The Tremblant Weekend was an outstanding success. It was our first time staying at the Hotel Mont Tremblant in the old village by Lac Mercier, and right beside the P’tit Train du Nord ski trail. We filled all 19 rooms of the hotel and another couple of members stayed next door at the Auberge Porte Rouge.

The snow conditions were not looking perfect. In the Tremblant area, they did not get as much snow as we did in town after the rain on Fri Jan 12 and so a lot of the hillier trails were not open. In the Parc national Mont Tremblant they only had 6 of 42 km open, although they said they had exceptionally groomed some back-country trails. There were more trails open at Domaine St-Bernard (DSB).

Several people arrived early enough on Friday to get in a ski at DSB. On Sat morning there was some pessimism at breakfast about the forecast of +3 C and a chance of rain. With few of the regular trails open at the Parc national, nobody went there, which was a first for a BTNSC Tremblant weekend. But the conditions on the trails close to the hotel as well as those of DSB were fine. It turned out to be a great day of skiing! Red wax worked fine all day and there was no rain. With the +3 C temp and no wind, the skiing was actually very comfortable and enjoyable. A few people went to the downhill ski resort to watch the World Cup Freestyle Moguls competition.

We had a lively 5 à 7 après-ski cocktail party in a special room of the hotel. We then had a sumptuous meal in the dining room. Everyone was impressed with the food and the service. After dinner, some adventurous souls went skating or walking at the 500 m skating oval a few minutes walk from the hotel on Lac Mercier.

On Sun, many people went for another ski on the PTdN or at DSB before making their way home. Four members stayed on for a third night and enjoyed another full day of activity followed by a relaxing evening.

This wonderful weekend happened all thanks to Peter Côté, who came up with the idea and then organized all aspects of the weekend. The reviews from everyone was that the weekend was a great time and a lot of fun. Thank you, Peter!

50 Revelers at the Christmas Party

The Beaver Tails Christmas Party was a great success! It was held Sat Dec 9 @ 6 pm at Comme Chez Soi, a Belgian restaurant in the Pointe Claire village.

As we entered and reached the top of the stairs, we were greeted by our party organizers, Gwen and Richard. They gave us each a place card with our name and main course selection that we could then use to mark our seat at one of the tables.

We had the entire place to ourselves, so we had lots of room to mingle before dinner and between the courses. Several people visited the bar, where their drink selection included a fine choice of Belgian beers. We sat down at 7 pm to begin enjoying the first of our four courses.

The food, drink and conversation flowed over the next few hours. During the dessert, yours truly got up to say a few words. Besides thanking our hosts and running down some of the upcoming events in the calendar, I reminded everyone that we will need a new president next year in order to keep the club going.

Al Lawson, the club’s founder and president for the first 18 years, also got up to speak. As has been a tradition for many years at any large social occasion, regardless of the time of year, there was a spontaneous singing of Happy Birthday to Al. This happens a few times a year in spite of the fact, or perhaps because of it, Al has never divulged the actual day and year of his birth. Al explained how this tradition began 40 years ago during the first weekend trip of the brand new ski club. He then capped off his story by finally sharing with us his birthday. Last month on the 12th, Al became a nonagenarian. There were some gasps, followed by a sustained round of applause

After dessert, the dance music started and there were a lot of impressive moves to be seen on the dance floor. This included our indefatigable club founder Al, who was surrounded by several of our female members.

The party began winding down at 11 pm, as many people called it a night. But among the last to leave, at 11:40 pm, was Al. He may be looking to start a new club for people who have enough energy to keep up with him!

A big thank you to Gwen and Richard for organizing a splendid Christmas shindig.

13 Happy Hikers at Mont St Bruno

A baker’s dozen of Beaver Tail hikers were at Mont St Bruno on Nov 26 for what turned out to be a beautiful day of hiking. A few cms of snow fell overnight, covering the ground and clinging to the trees. ​

​It was below freezing so the snow was not going anywhere. But the sun had come out and we had many spectacular views of the sun coming through the snow-covered trees and reflecting on the lakes.

It was a perfect setting for Mont St Bruno’s open ho​use day. In addition to there being free admission to the park, there were vendors set up outside displaying a variety of gear for winter activities, such as skis, clothing and fat bikes.

We set out at 10:15 am on a clockwise route around the park. We followed ski trail 1 to the point behind the alpine ski centre at Lac Seigneurial where it meets ski trail 3. Along the way, we paused for the first of two sightings of small groups of dear. We then took trail 3 north to the hut near Lac des Bouleaux. We took trail 1 around Lac des Bouleaux, and then continued on trail 1 south past the smaller Lac à la Tortue.

We then took trail 7 west to get back to Lac Seigneurial. We walked on the service road that goes along the shore of the lake, passing some of the fine-looking homes that were built before the park was created in 1985 and were allowed to stay. We stopped in at the cozy “Salon du thé Le Vieux-Moulin”, situated in an old stone building. Two of our group opted to stay behind for tea while the rest of us continued back to the Centre de découverte, whence we started.

We covered 9.5 km in 2 hr 20 min. It was a great day in a snowy setting and a good opportunity to acclimatize ourselves for the impending winter!

Great turnout at the Annual Opening Meeting

It was a great turnout at the annual Opening Meeting last Fri Nov 3. We had 50 people who stopped by to register as members and listen to the 45-minute presentation. But they also came to talk and snack and drink with other returning and new members.

This was the third year running we held the Opening Meeting at the Beaconsfield Yacht Club (BYC). It’s a really nice venue for our meeting. We brought our own snacks, water and coffee, which is all well and good, but the BYC makes things even better by providing a staffed bar with a selection of beers on tap.

People started drifting in 15 minutes before the official start time of 7 pm. The room was soon buzzing with conversation as people circulated between the registration desk, the lamination desk, the snack table and the bar. The presentation began at 7:30 pm and provided a rundown of the club and the upcoming season. Among the highlights:

  • Christmas Party on Sat Dec 9 at Comme Chez Soi (Gwen & Richard)
  • Ski and Pot Luck on Sat Jan 6 (Monique I)
  • Tremblant Weekend Jan 19-21 (Peter C)
  • Ski Clinic on Sat Jan 27 (Glenn K)
  • Montagne Coupée Weekend Feb 16-18 (to be confirmed – Gwen & Richard)
  • Closing Party on Sat Mar 24 (to be confirmed – Cheryl W)

I also announced that this year will be my 18th and last as President of the BTNSC. We need someone to step forward and ensure the ongoing viability of the club.

After the presentation was done at 8:20 pm, many people stayed around to continue chatting. The last of us were there until 9 pm.

The meeting was a great success thanks to: Rick for the snacks, Linda and Keith for the presentation graphics and the slide show of photos from last season, Richard for the card lamination, Bruce and Christine for the registration desk, and Sara Grynspan for facilitating the rental of the BYC clubhouse.

We are all set for the ski season. All we need now is snow!

 

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.