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Sunday Mt. Mansfield 16 Sep 2018

Report from Peter Côté

Six adults, two kids and a dog hike Mt. Mansfield

Although our Wednesday night Lachine walks started a few weeks ago, our first Sunday outing of the year was this past Sunday (Sept 16). It was a special one-off hike of Mt. Mansfield in Vermont hosted by Monique Isler. We were six adults, two kids and a dog on what promised to be a very hot and humid day. Promises were kept.

We started our hike rather promptly from the Underhill State Park parking lot at 10 am, where the climbing starts pretty much immediately. Underhill State Park is on the west side of the Mt. Mansfield massif at about 1800 ft elevation, our destination was The Chin (the summit) at 4393 ft elevation via Sunset Ridge Trail. So, we had some solid vertical ahead of us, about 2600 ft, or roughly 800 metres. By the way, if you’ve ever Continue reading “Sunday Mt. Mansfield 16 Sep 2018”

Three BTers get close to nature on Mont Royal – Saturday Mar 24 2018

Only 3 female BeaverTails turned up on Mount Royal at 10 am Saturday morning. The Conditions were NOT good at all. In fact it looked like they had specifically groomed the trails to discourage skiers; in that they had removed many of the tracks by grooming course snow to level them. The section under the bridge was officially closed, but that didn’t stop us.
We still had a very nice ski in the sunshine. Jessica and I used waxless skis which worked well and helped slow down the glide on the fast hard packed hills. Monique had a lot more glide, but needed to stop and reapply wax. Report by Nancy Atkins.
(Editor’s note: Nancy reports that they saw a Pilleated Woodpecker while on the trail. That’s the really large one with the pointy red head.)

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!

Surprisingly terrific day of skiing – Sunday at Gai Luron

Maybe it was the marginal conditions over the past few weeks that convinced people the season was pretty much over, or maybe it was just the shock of losing an hour of sleep with the arrival of Daylight Savings Time. Whatever the reason, only five of us made it up to Gai Luron on Sunday (March 11th) for what turned out to be a surprisingly terrific day of skiing.

The signs were actually quite good: good dump of snow on Thursday/Friday, and steady temperatures below freezing, or close to it, between then and Sunday morning. Combine that with Gai Luron’s legendary grooming prowess and you just might have the makings of a good day. Well it turned out pretty great, temperatures held steady just below freezing right through the morning, and the Gai Luron technicians laid out the prettiest groomed carpet of trails you could possibly imagine.

Deciding on wax was the challenge of the day: Gai Luron management was calling for Blue Extra, I went for Violet Special however, and Tom went for Red! Tom, Dennis, son Chris and I went off on loop L, with the intention of adding backcountry loops B and C. Alfreda headed off on the intermediate loops G and A.

With the new snow, Gai Luron’s genius at grooming and the steady temperature, at or just below freezing, the trails were beautiful. Grip was a function of the wax we had chosen back in the chalet: some of us slipped and slided, some of us had great grip, and then others had too much, even on the icy groomed tracks. Things got interesting when we headed off unto the ungroomed loops B and C. The virgin, untracked powder on those trails presented a completely different set of challenges: the guys who were slipping on the groomed trails had perfect grip on the powder, Tom and I however started clumping up, Tom with the Red wax, more so than me. We both had to stop a couple of times, take off our skis and scrape the built up snow off the bottoms. Actually, Tom, the contortionist, figured out how to do this without removing his skis. After that it was great though, and it was beautiful anyway (so who cares about the hassles), and once we got back unto the groomed trails it was smooth sailing again.

Back at the chalet, after 13k of strenuous skiing, I called it a day. Tom, Chris and Dennis headed off again to do G, I headed into the chalet for some well-deserved lunch. Leaving the chalet, on my way to my car, I bumped into Alfreda who had just finished her outing. Alfreda reported a really great morning as well, would have been nice to have had more BTers to ski with though!

The season is definitely not over, especially with the snow coming today and tomorrow. We could be skiing for a while yet!

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!”

Great food and skiing at our annual Tremblant picnic

Like all good Beaver Tails events our second trip to Mont Tremblant this year included both skiing and food. That’s just the way we like it!

First the skiing. Many of us were in the area only four weeks ago for the Tremblant Ski Weekend, however snow conditions in the Parc national were miserable and no one ventured there, preferring to stay closer to our cozy home in the village. So a return trip up north was called for, and this time the conditions were, well, a bit better. Actually, not bad at all, as long as you stayed away from the trails listed as “suicidal”. At the Centre de decouverte we were warned to stay away from the Lac-Poisson and L’Ours trails: descents way too icy and way too fast. Malard was deemed slightly less crazy, but still not recommended. So off to Bois-Franc most of us went: a very peaceful 12k loop with moderate climbs and descents, all quite manageable. A few folks added additional loops, including Le Poete and the first bit of Lac-Poisson (before the long “suicidal” descent at the end), and two crazy dudes threw caution to the wind and tackled Malard – declaring it, over lunch in the cabin later, not such a big deal. And thus, a good morning of skiing was had by all, in fact some had a blast.

Then it was off to lunch. We met in the parking lot after our morning ski, some of us loading up with provisions for the 3.5k ski into the La Renardiere cabin for our annual Tremblant picnic, a great Beaver Tails tradition. The sun was out, weather had warmed up and softened the snow. It was a glorious day. Thanks to our wonderful hosts and organizers we ate well and had a great time. Our fearless, albeit retiring, leader was not present for the day, off to a wedding somewhere (not his own), so a lowly commoner was yanked randomly from the crowd to offer collective thanks to those two great hosts of ours: big thanks to Gwen and Richard for the day.

All 27 of us made it home safely at the end of the day. This year, thankfully, not in the middle of a snow storm.

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!