It’s been a while since I’ve posted about hiking, but it doesn’t mean that we haven’t been doing it. In fact, we’ve made it out every weekend and are now going for 13km treks in the Gatineau Park.

This year’s late fall hiking introduced NosyNeighbour to the chalets in the park. Not only are they a source of heat on a cold or wet day, but they also give you new options for lunch food. I like adventure, but like the familiarity of a routine. We’ve now hiked Ridge Road to Keogan so many times I know all the corners and how long it takes from various landmarks. So a few weeks ago we decided to venture further, to Huron Chalet, almost at the Champlain Lookout.

Two weekends ago we started to see crosscountry ski tracks after we passed the track to Keogan. When we crossed the parkway to Shilly Shack we saw a number of skiers going up and down, despite the ski season not having officially opened. That weekend a few diehard cyclists passed us on the trail as well.

Well a week later, and a record-breaking warm, wet day and the snow was mostly gone, except for a light dusting from Friday evening. Winter temperatures had finally arrived too, with a blustery wind chill of -19 Celcius.

The rain earlier in the week could be heard running off through the trees, splashing over rocks. Places where the trail had been washed out had been transformed into thick sheets of ice, which when covered with a dusting of snow make for interesting footwork.

Huron Chalet is virtually a carbon copy of Keogan, except the view is much better. Because you’re higher up, on a clear day you can see the Ottawa River. A bird feeder has been strategically positioned so that from many of the indoor tables you can see bluejays feeding. On our last visit, a family of deer had arrived for the easy pickings.

Unlike Keogan, the ladies’ outhouse has hand sanitizer. It’s alcohol based so there’s no fear of it freezing. And it’s better than having to go into the guys outhouse like at Keogan.

Huron seems to be the halfway stop for diehard hikers that want to be out all day. When we arrived on Saturday, a group of four almost retirees were having lunch. They had a well stocked picnic and even shared some homemade cookies with us. Unfortunately I didn’t have anything to share back, not having had time to bake before we left.

I’ve transferred the Nordic pole walking technique to my hiking. It’s a bit challenging on the steeps, but I’ve noticed a huge difference in my fitness level in the past few weeks since starting to NPW. I hope that all this hiking will pay off when we hit the downhill slopes this year.

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