Blog

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

Ron’s Random Rambling

Well I guess it must have been the effects of the Super Moon that caused a throng of club members to gather at Cap St Jacques to meditate on the moons super powers. It was also probably the same lunar powers which persuaded the group to walk, albeit reluctantly at first, clockwise around the trails. The group set off with Ron “I know the way” M leading the charge, going clockwise. A win for the super mooners.
What a delight seeing the trail from a different perspective, avoiding maple syrup lines, sneaking past a few barriers, strolling along the beach, even climbing a ladder or two. Try doing that with skis on. True to his word Ron M did not get us lost, but to be honest half the group had no idea where we were and therefore unable to draw any conclusions about RM’s navigation skills. Nearing the end of the walk we came across Brian A, who having arrived late missed out on the lunar activity and was left wandering around on his own. Next time get there on time Brian.

So we had a nice December walk, sadly the super moon was a little hidden by the cloud cover that evening.

A perfect Fall day at Mont St Hilaire

The weather forecast for our Mont St Hilaire hike promised ideal late Fall conditions: sunny, cool and crisp; with a hint of snow on the ground and ice-rimmed lakes and ponds to skirt. Mother Nature delivered, and 15 of us showed up for the day’s outing. Upon arrival at the Pavillon d’Acceuil a few enthusiastic hikers indicated they would like to do the Rocky loop, that was fine with me as that was my preference as well. Everyone seemed happy, so we set off toward Lac Hertel and the beginning of the trail system proper.

The main trail heading up to Lac Hertel is a wide, smooth boulevard; and the rest of the trail system, although more rugged, is exceptionally well maintained and well marked. Along with the spacious, airy and well appointed Pavillon d’Acceuil, with its friendly and helpful staff, this is one gourmet destination. Definitely worth the seven bucks price of admission.

We took the long way up, Rocky 2 (Rouge), and the more direct route down, Rocky 1 (Bleu). With some invigorating uphill sections, and quad-stressing downhills, we all felt we were earning our afternoon naps and/or beers. At the apex of the loop is the Rocky lookout, with its excellent views north and west. Here we rested briefly, chatted and ate our sandwiches, but in the cool air the chills soon began to descend upon us and we felt compelled to journey on. Rocky 1 is mostly downhill, but with one more steep promontory to climb we warmed up quickly enough.

At the bottom of the hill, where various other trails fan out offering additional hiking opportunities for the eager and hearty, two of our number, both eager and hearty, parted company with the rest of us and headed in the direction of the Pain de Sucre trail and lookout.

We remaining 13 took the boulevard back down to the Pavillon, where some members checked there hiking apps to see where we had been, and others checked there Tim Horton’s apps to see where we were going. Total hike distance about 10k and 375 metres of climbing. A good time was had by all.