After one of the warmest and greenest Decembers on record, we made a very abrupt and very complete transition to winter on Dec 29 when we got a dump of 39 cm of snow! After not being able to ski at all up to this point, here was our chance to make up for lost time! Consequently, we had three scheduled ski outings (& one eating outing) in the space of five days — all of them on the island.
Wed, Dec 30 — 13 Skiers at Bois de Liesse
While the snow was still blowing on Tue Dec 29, we declared an informal ski outing the next morning at Bois de Liesse. This was a bit exceptional in the sense that we do not usually schedule a ski outing on a day that is not on the weekend or is not a public holiday. But we knew that many members had extra days off, so we decided to go for it.
It was cloudy and -4 C at 10 am when we meet at the Chalet d’accueil des Champs. Nine of us set out together to finally get our ski season under way. Four other members arrived later. For the first km of skiing the trail was only skier-tracked, but then we caught up to the tracking machine and the rest of the skiing was on freshly groomed trails. We did the red rabbit trail for a nice 5.5 km loop. It should be 1 km longer, but part of it could not be groomed yet because it passes through a swampy part that was not frozen yet. I did a bit extra and was even able to ski along an ungroomed trail underneath Aut 13 without having to take my skis off. There is often not enough snow to be able to do that!
It was a short, but sweet, first outing!
Fri, Jan 1 — 15 Skiers at New Year’s Day Special at Cap St Jacques
Last year on Jan 1, there was a thaw and we could not ski. No lack of snow this year! There were 15 of us who shook off any lingering effects of the previous evening’s festivities. Indeed, it was the best turnout we have had for our New Year’s Day outing since 2010 (16 at Gai Luron).
It was cloudy and -1 C on the morning of New Year’s Day at Cap St Jacques as we gathered at 10 am in the parking lot (chalet was closed). We set out and soon found that the trails here were not as nicely groomed compared to Bois de Liesse. But it was still quite manageable and we forged on. About 3 km along on the red rabbit trail, signs directed us to take a detour around a part of the trail that could not be groomed due to soggy and unfrozen ground. Our group of 15 spread out and some took short cuts. But most of us ended up meeting again at the end. Most of skied between 5 and 10 km. It was a great way to ring in the New Year!
Sun, Jan 3 — 26 Skiers at Bois de Liesse
After reports from Mount Royal of poor grooming and trails with streams running through them, we decided to switch our pre- pot luck ski outing to Bois de Liesse. This worked out well enough as 26 BTers turned out to work up an appetite — 25 skiers and 1 on snowshoes. We gathered at 10 am and as usual it took a few minutes to herd the cats, I mean members, in to a formation suitable for the group photo.
Once again it was a cloudy and mild day. The temperature was edging close to 0 C and this made the waxing a bit challenging. Well, it did for those skiers who were using waxable skis. Several members opted to use the waxless skis they keep on standby for just such a day! Meanwhile, those of us with waxed skis got a good upper body workout as we alternately skied and pushed ourselves along with our poles!
With such a large group, we inevitably spread out and took routes of varying lengths. But must us limited the outing to about an hour and a half. After all, we had…
Sun Jan 3 — 34 Pot Luckers at Melrose Place
…a pot luck to get to! We ventured into snowy NDG and battled the roadside snow banks to find a place to park near our traditional destination of Monique Isler’s house on Melrose Ave. (Kudos to those of you who walked or took public transit!)
Between 12 and 1 pm, we arrived at Monique’s, diligently following the signs directing us from the front door down to the vestaire, and then through the basement up through the second staircase to emerge in the kitchen. The dining room table was soon groaning under the weight of a delectable display of divine dishes. And then there was the separate sweet table full of desserts. For most of us, it was the last day of the holiday feasting period, so might as well make the most of it! Besides, we had the excuse of having exercised that morning, right?
The dining was accompanied by much animated conversation. Nothing like lots of snow and mild temperatures (and great food) to get us feeling festive! It was truly a worthy celebration of a wonderful start to the ski season. Towards mid-afternoon, people slowly began departing. Fittingly, we walked outdoors to be met by more big snowflakes gently coming down.
Many thanks to Monique for once again opening up her home to us!