Wednesday, March 21, 2007

XC Trip to Gatineau Park

What a day! As I said to the students on the trip, these are the days that I love my job. It was one of those days where the radio stations were saying that it was the last cold blast of winter and that the wind was creating temperatures of -28C. With a forecast of sunny skies and a high of -2C, you knew the city folks would be bitter and stay inside, while those with a bit of experience playing outdoors would be heading out into the trees to enjoy a perfect day. So off we went, into the hills of Gatineau Park on our cross-country skis.

We started our cross-country ski adventure at Camp Fortune. From there, 18 of us headed into the woods and out of the wind to begin our climb to Ridge Road (#1). Moving quite quickly as a group, it didn't take long for us to move through the rolling ups and downs of Ridge Road and past Keogan Lodge to the Parkway. All went pretty smoothly, with only a few falls, right Chris (wipe out in front of rolling camera)? The benches on the Parkway were a great meeting spot as we got ready for our biggest climb of the day. Just past the Shilly Shally Cabin is the Kyber Pass uphill, which is a 400 m long uphill on the way to our lunch spot at Huron Cabin.

Upon arrival at Huron Cabin we built a fire and spent some time playing with the local wildlife, specifically an ermine (Also known as the stoat or the short-tailed weasel, this tiny, ferocious mammal has found a home in the wood pile at Huron Cabin). You can ask Matt about how ferocious it was. During lunch, a small group of us ventured out to Champlain and Etienne-Brule Lookouts. The visibility was excellent and we got a good look out over the Ottawa Valley (we even saw Mt. Pakenham). After a bit of relaxing, some nice grilled cheese sandwiches and a group photo, we headed out to the Parkway for a fun afternoon of downhill.

About half of the group decided to take Ridge Road back in order to enjoy the downhill of Kyber Pass, which was well earned. The rest glided down the Parkway to meet up again at the benches. From here we went down the Fortune Parkway towards P. 10, with a brief stop at the Burma uphill. A few brave souls climbed up to the top to be able to experience one of Gatineau Park's greatest downhills. Our 1st skier, Jordan, quickly demonstrated how not to take this downhill, as he pointed his skis straight downhill and went flying into the trees in the corner about half way down. We were a little worried at the top, but mostly we stood there shaking our heads and asking, "why"? After everyone made it down the hill safely (with Derek taking the safest route of all), we finished off our ski adventure with a wonderful gradual downhill to the parking lot. All in all, an amazing day.

Mr. Brouwer


Kyla said...

The day started off pretty cold, but in the end it turned out to be really nice. The things that stood out for me were the lookouts (they were really pretty) and the hill that Jordan came flying down. Oh and the stupid outhouses..They were like pitch black inside!
The hardest things were at the beginning, when it was mainly up hill. Since im not the best skiier, it took a while and i kept getting frustrated each time i fell. Another hardship was that huge hill before the cabin. It also may have been easier if i hadn't kept getting tangled up with the skiiers behind me.
Overall, i think i was pretty prepared, i had enough water and food to keep me satisfied and i was warm enough the whole day.
The positive actions i saw throughout the day was Jordan helping me up when i fell. And Matt "protecting me".
My impressions of Gatineau park were pretty good. I liked it, and it was a really pretty place. The weather sucked at first, but got better after lunch, the ski trails were really nice, and wide enough for experienced skiiers to pass us easily.
I would definitely do it again (with more practise of course.) because it was fun. Also, i found skiing on the parkway was much easier than skiing on the other trails we were on.

Steph said...

We packed all of our stuff and got on the bus, at that point I was hoping that the bus would brake down so I wouldn’t have to ski. I was so excited when I saw no snow during March break, because without snow you can’t ski. But unfortunately at that point I was on the bus and about to be skiing for the whole day! We arrived and I got ready to ski, we started and I began to get use to it. After about 1 hour, my opinion changed I was having so much fun. For the first part I stayed with Mike and Derek, at that point they were ahead of me by quiet a bit. So I decided to go ski with Courtney for a bit and see how she was doing. I then began to pick it up and get a steady pace going, until I saw it. The hill, Brouwer warned us about it but I never thought that his vivid description would be so accurate. I didn’t let it get in my way thought, because I new if I climbed it I would get to go down it. It was a killer climb but I did it without falling. It was worth it thought because at the top meant time for lunch.

We were half way there, and I was having so much fun. Before we ate a couple of us went with Brouwer to Champlain and Etienne-Brule Lookouts, the view was amazing. After taking a short nap we headed back to Huron Cabin to eat our grill cheese. It was at Huron Cabin that I realised that I had packed perfectly not to much and not to little. I was also one of the few to still have water at the end of the day. I was not to cold nor to hot. Before we headed out to finish off out day, Derek and Mike got their picture taken with Brouwer and boy did that make their day!

So we hit the trails again, this time we headed back to one of the look outs and then got to choose whether we wanted to take an easy hill down or go down the big hill we had climbed earlier. I had a big decision to make and it came down to the big hill. I worked so hard to get up the hill I wanted to go down it, I wanted to try something that I would have not tried before. I did it, I was so proud of myself. After going down that hill we continued on are trail. By this time I had got the hang of skate skiing: Mike and Derek even started complementing me for once. That was a first.

We got a little bit farther down the trail, and we had to stop and wait for the rest of the group. We didn’t want to just stand there so we decided to climb one more hill. A hill that we though would not be so bad, but turned out to be the biggest challenge of the day. Many people came down the hill, some safe, some not so same, and some a lot safer then expected. But we all did it and it made me realise that I had come so far. I use to not enjoy skiing and at first I didn’t even want to go. But now I want to go again, I was not confident in myself at first but I then realised that I if I kept trying I would eventually get good at it. Overall, it was an amazing day, beautiful weather, lots of great people and loads of great memories.

Shea said...

IT was kinda chilly when we initially got of the bus but once we started the trails with a long uphill we all warmed up fairly quickly. The highlights where definatly the downhills and the view at lookout. I just regret not going down the other hills that i skipped on they would have been great.
The biggest hardship was definatly the long ass uphill before huron lodge. One event of the trip was during lunch when Chris, Jordan, Garnet, and i where going down the hill behind the lodge where we ate and Jordan becaem the first person to eat bark on the trip. Plus being one of the first people down the very last hill of the day right before the parking lot was pretty good to.
I felt pretty prepared, I brought more clothing then I needed as it turned out, I had plenty of food and a whole camel pack fulll of water. My skiing skills where average, i was good enough to ski and not fall down a whole lot but i still looked kinda like a retarded duck at some points. I still need alot of practice.
All of the people i was around where positive throughout the trip, but over all Garnet is what made the trip hilariously entertaining, it wouldn't have been the same without Garnet to make us all feel better about our skiing skills.
Gantineau was a amazing place to ski, the trails where in great condition and overall great sceanery. And the weather was abosolutly amazing the whole time, it was cold but not to cold and sunny the whole day. I would definatly do that trip again anytime, it was a great time and wish that I could do it again before the snow mealts but by the looks of it that wont happen so I will just have to wait untill next year to get out skiing again.

Nik said...

Cross country skiing was something that wasn’t so sweet for me straight from the start. Over the March break I was able to get out and have some great times in the powder on my fancy downhill skis at places like Tremblant and Mont Ste Marie. I sometimes like to enjoy the snow parks, and playing in the parks requires some climbing. At times like those I love having the parabolic sharpened edges on my skis. When we first learned to skate ski on our attractive cross country skis, I really did miss my sharpened edges and at first it was very discouraging to be able to ski downhill so well yet struggle on flat simple land. But I didn’t give up. After some intense practice at school I knew I’d be just fine.
Wrapping up and preparing our gear the day before really made things go smoothly since I got to school pretty late. The sky had a few clouds and the sun was nice, but I knew it was going to be quite chilly with the wind. When we first started out at Camp Fortune, I felt that it was quite chilly outside but only after a good 5 minutes of skate skiing uphill it really did warm up. I was dressed perfectly, and keeping my temperature steady and comfortable was a breeze. Up hill was tough as we were making our way to Ridge Road. We had a nice break as we regrouped by the benches at the parkway, but we met monsterous Kyber Pass which blew your mind away when you stood at the bottom. 400 m of steep incline. What a brutal climb, but I was ever so proud of myself to make it straight to the top with out falling or stopping. Luckily the hardships for the day were over. From there, this was where the fun in the day began.
The rest of the day was mainly flat and, yes my favorite, downhill. The day really warmed up too. We were greeted at the cabin by our furry little friend dancing in the snow. We grabbed a quick sip of water and a few of us headed out to the lookout points Champlain and Etienne Brule. The view was amazing and you could truly see to the end of the world. I tried to snatch a quick picture with my phone, but the group was off again back onto the parkway heading back to the cabin for some nice warm lunch. Grilled Cheese on the wood stove was a great treat as I was starving. I took the lining out of my jacket and switched to some light weight gloves and we were back out again to enjoy the rest of the day. The parkway was really sweet and easy going. Although half of us chose to go back down Kyber Pass. That was an adventure and a half. I made it down the hill itself, but managed to have a little mishap on perfectly flat ground again. However I think Alex got the best taste of downhill skiing. We made it back on to the easy going parkway again, and me and Alex sat back to watch some of the class fly down some more steep downhill.
Except for a few sores, I almost didn’t want the day to end. It was such a great experience and so much more fun than I thought it would be. I love my downhill skiing, but I had as much fun that day as I did at Pakenham. I was really well prepared and had just enough water to satisfy my thirst. The weather was awesome and I couldn’t ask for anything more. I’d do it again any day for sure. Its just too bad that the snow is all gone.

noakes said...

The morning started off great. The only bad thing was that I was so pumped to get out there that the bus ride felt like it took all day. Once we got there and offloaded the bus I realized just how chilly it was. For a minute I was worried that I had underdressed so I tossed on a neck warmer. However, several minutes after we started off I understood how much the body warms itself, especially on the uphills.

The morning was mostly uphills all the way to the cabin. About half way there at the bottom of a little hill I caught an edge. I took quite the tumble but Derek was right behind me and he stopped to make sure I was okay. Once I was on my feet again me and him continued on after Brouwer who naturally was about a mile a head of us.

Once everyone had made it to the cabin where we were planning on having lunch, Mr. Brouwer took a few of us up to Champlain and Etienne-Brule Lookouts. The view was unbelievable. I'm pretty sure we were looking as far as the human eye can go. After a little break at the lookout we headed back to the cabin where everyone made some grilled cheese. I think I like tin foil grilled cheese more than the kind I make in a pan at home. Or maybe I was just really hungry from the uphill morning. Also, Steph brought me some Ritz Crackers, which she knows are my favourite.

The afternoon was much more relaxed. It was mostly downhill and the temperature had gone up. It was warm enough that me and Derek switched to our vests. This is when we took a picture with Me, Derek, Brouwer, that turned out amazing. Then we took off back down the hill. Near the end Brouwer took a couple of us up a really steep hill that was completely optional due to the difficulty. I went down without much difficulty although I did take a little spill just after passing Brouwer who was on his way back up. Derek took the smart way down and came out untouched by the snow.

Then we had a nice gradual downhill all the way to the pickup spot. It was an amazing day. There is no question in my mind whether I would do that again or not. I have already begun talking to my parents about splitting the cost on getting my own pair of skis. Thanks to Mr. Brouwer and Ms Lalonde for taking us.

barber said...

My day started off with a close call, because, until I got on the bus, I forgot to fill up my water bottles, but thankfully I had enough time to run in the school and fill them up. I didn’t find the weather to be too cold because I was dressed in plenty of layers. The ski trip got off to a tough start because there was a lot of uphill climbing, but we all knew it would be worth it by the end of the day. For the most part, I was skiing with the front of the pack so we were all going at a good pace throughout the entire day. By far the biggest challenge for me was the first big uphill. It took a while and a lot of energy to finish, but once I finished it was smooth sailing to Huron Cabin for lunch.

A group of us grabbed a little snack until the rest of the class got to the cabin, and we set out for Champlain and Etienne-Brule Lookouts with Mr. Brouwer. The trail was fun and we were skiing at a good pace. The lookout was awesome and after a group picture it was time to head back. Once we got back I enjoyed a grilled cheese sandwich and some water thanks to Mike because one of my bottles had leaked in my bag so I had very little by lunch. Some of us dried out some clothes and took off some layers because it was starting to get a little warm out. Once everyone was ready we went outside, took a group picture and we were off skiing.

The route back included a choice of taking the steep hill we all climbed earlier or a safer, gradual decline. I chose the steeper once because I thought my skiing abilities were good enough, but once we hit the top I immediately regretted my choice. I made it down safe and it was worth it. We then continued down the parkway, but some of us were a little ahead of the rest, so Mr. Brouwer lead us up an “optionl fun climb”. The climb up was brutal, and once I made it to the top and saw the first couple people try it out I decided there was no I was going down that hill so I took the safest route and walked down.

After that “adventure” to say the least, we made our way back down the parkway, which was a nice gradual downhill and made the whole trip worthwhile. It was amazing not having to work that hard and still be going so fast. All in all, it was an amazing day, great weather, good skiing conditions, and good people. I would definitely do it again anytime.

Courtney said...

On March 20th my outdoor ed class went on an all day cross-country skiing trip in Gatineau Park. The weather was perfect. We skied mostly on small trails which I found hard to ski on, but when skiing on the parkway it was much easier. Once we passed the Shilly Shally I knew we were close to the biggest hill for the day. Although it does look much bigger from the bottom then the top but you must climb it first to find that out. But once on top of the hill it was a short distance from lunch, which at that point i was looking forward to lunch after that big climb. When we stopped for lunch a group skied to the look out point. I had lunch instead, ham and cheese sandwich warm over the stove. After lunch we took pictures of the group. We also changed which trail to head home on. We ended up all going to the look out point which was so beautiful. It made the even better. After that we split in two groups and said we would meet later on the parkway. We were early for the bus so some people went up this hill just so they could go down it, just for fun. The people who didn't go up watched with a giggle as they came back down. We were not giggling so much at them coming down as at the fact that we were not perfect at stopping. The last 2Km was all down hill so it was a relaxing end to a fulfilled day.

garneato said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
garneato said...

This was another great trip.It was really cold in the morning but trust me once you get moving it gets almost to hot to have a jacket on. Now im not the best crooscountry skie but i still really enjoyed the trip.I even got to bring subway for luch. mmmm it was really good lol. Now all those hills wow there was a lot have them.Im sure i can get up any size hill now with all that training. The best part about the trip is when we got to go down hill and i mean some have the down hill was huge. Like that 1 spot were all the rocks were on the side and it was more like a cliff then a hill that was crazzy only some people did this hill. I missed the last huge cliff like hill only becouse i was told i was not allword to go up but im sure it was a good thiung i didnt. The last logn hill was good to but it should be a little more stepper. Well this was another great trip and looking forward to many more.

Mad Bassist said...

On a cold day morning in February, our class headed out to the Gatineau Park to do some cross-country skiing. We had been preparing for this since for a couple of weeks and then we had to decide which type we were going to do: skate skiing or classic. I decided on doing skate skiing as I found it easier and more interesting as you could move around a little more.

We started off on a pretty well maintained trail and I found it pretty relaxing except I fell quite often, especially on downhills where I had to turn. Eventually, a massive hill came into sight. This was a challenge to get up to the top. I started to heat up and eventually I went down to just a sweatshirt and began to try to ski up. It was quite difficult and eventually I could muster no more speed and had to climb up with my skis on. Nik and I decided early on that we would ski together as we were at the same ability level and took a break after we climbed this mountain. It was fairly easy going from there to Huron Cabin. After we had rested in the cabin and ate grilled cheese, we decided to go to the lookout. After a while, I was thinking if it was worth it and when I was there it was definitely worth it. We managed to see quite a bit of the park as there were no real clouds to be seen. I took some photos with my cell phone as I had forgotten my camera at home.

We started to head back after the lookout and split up into two groups. I went down with Mr. Brower’s groups and we went down the hill that I had managed to climb up. I waited for Garnet to make his way down and the Mr. Brower decided to go down just in case something happened to him. I started down the hill well and managed to make it down the hill however because I thought that I was down I relaxed and then promptly wiped out. My skis crossed and somehow I somersaulted and hit my head on the ice. I was pretty dazed for a couple of minutes and then shook myself off and started to ski down to the group. I had cuts on the side of my left eye however I didn’t realise this until I met up with the group. I decided to take it easy from there and not go down the other hill that a lot of people wiped out going down and kept my speed down as we went down the soft incline to the bus.

I would definitely do this again at some point. I felt that I was well prepared as I had brought plenty of water and food and clothes to keep me warm and active. Also, I was practised at cross-country skiing as we had done it around the school for a couple of weeks in advance. Nik and I looked out for one another and helped each other out whenever someone was having difficulty. I liked the first bit as I felt that I had more control than skiing down the parkway however that may be due to my bad fall, I was pretty shaken up. It was a good day with plenty of goodwill and enthusiasm in the group, with perfect weather and I will take lots of good memories from my outdoor education class.