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We wanted to go for a hike on the weekend, but we were leery of the invasion of “leafers” who appear each fall. Holding a Tim Horton’s cup in one hand, and a cigarette or donut in the other, leafers take over the parkways and parking lots in the Gatineau Park.

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Our second day of hiking was 20 km along the coast. The first part was a bit challenging, but nothing like the hike to Port Isaac. I think I was better prepared mentally. And it was another beautiful sunny day. Although the temperature was only 17 degrees, it did feel warmer. Perfect for hiking. Read the rest of this entry »

Late Saturday morning, we set off to the Gatineau Park for a lunch time hike. We parked at P7, Kingsmere, and hike along Ridge Road to Keogan Hut. I’d brought along a toasted sandwich with leftover Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf (topped with cheese, spinach and tomato) wrapped in tinfoil, baby carrots, yogurt and clementines.

I didn’t used to like hiking at this time of year because the fall colours are all gone. But this year, the ground has been relatively dry and the fall sun is warm on your back when you need it. The other bonus is that the Gatineau parkways are now closed, so it’s serious hikers only, especially when you get deeper into the park.

As we descending down the path to Keogan, I could see the smoke coming from the chimney. Yes! We would be able to have toasted sandwiches! And a group of teenagers, who looked like they were training for crosscountry skiing, was just leaving the hut. I lit the leftover candles by our table and took out lunch from the backpack. NosyNeighbour went out back to chop up some wood. He loves to firefuck. But who doesn’t when you’ve given up a wood fireplace for a gas one?

So with the sandwiches warming up on the woodstove, we started to eat the trailmix and then the carrots. The outside door creaked open, then the inner one. In walked a lone man. He sauntered over to the other side of the room, swung up a leg over the bench, then sat down.

After a few moments of silence, we struck up a conversation. He was from Texas. It was completely unexpected. Maybe in the thick of the Fall Rhapsody, but mid-November?

In fact, he had moved from Texas to Sherbooke, but hadn’t found work. So he came to Ottawa, where he still couldn’t find work. So he decided he needed to learn French and enrolled in a college. I’m sure you’re wondering why a Texan would move to cold Canada without a job lined up. I know I was curious.

It turns out his extended family was from the Sherbrooke area. His parents had moved to Texas so he’d never learned French. Spanish would be the more obvious choice of a second language in that part of the USA. He went to Bishops for university and now that he was divorced and his son an adult, he decided to make a fresh start. I wonder if he’ll have a drawl when he speaks French?

 

Today we invited Mountain Goat (formerly known as Nanny Goat) for another hike in the Gatineau Park. This time we chose Wolf Trail, which starts at Blanchet Beach on Meech Lake. Mountain Goat arrived at our place just before the designated arrival time of 8:30. We were ready to start the trail just after 9 a.m. A few keeners were just finishing up as we were starting off, but the majority of leafers and tillies had yet to arrive.

We typically do the trail counter clockwise so that the rockiest, steepest sections are climbed first. This worked well for Mountain Goat, who also happens to have washer woman’s knees. We’ve climbed the rocky, wet section a few times, and I much prefer the ascent than the descent.

We stopped at the first lookout, which offers your first glimpse at the Ottawa River in the distance and the valley going back towards Camp Fortune. The ideal time of day for this view is mid-afternoon, when the western sun lights up the leaves.

Our next stop was a small lake on the south side of Ridge Road, almost half way through. Mountain Goat started telling stories like he was in an episode of Survivor Man: It looks like a wild animal has been visiting this lake. See how the tall grass has been trampled there into a path. He also told us a story about when he was mountain biking off Conroy Road and came across a moose on the path. VERY LARGE ANIMAL.

We continued on to Tawadina Lookout, where we usually stop for lunch when it’s warmer. The late morning was still quite cool, despite the sunshine. A cold wind rushed past the rocky outcrop. We sat down in a somewhat sheltered area and snacked on some trail mix and apples. After snapping a few shots of the view, with us appropriately placed in the foreground, we set off for the return trip.

Last year a lot of work was done on the section of this trail from the Tawadina lookout to the split near the beach. I’m not a big fan of the heavy bridges and boardwalks that were installed. The trail was built up around the swampy areas with crushed gravel so now there are few challenges during the descent. But I suppose if it helps protect the sensitive ecology, then I’ll put up with it.

All in all, a nice hike. Very few leafers were out in the morning. They’ve eaten their turkey and are probably watching TV sucking back a pint.

And the pics:

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After one of the hottest, driest summers I can remember, I was expecting the autumn leaves to disappoint. Last weekend, the leaves had barely started to change, and many of the maples had dropped their leaves without any vibrant colours.

Since Saturday wasn’t the greatest weather day, we spent the day puttering around the house, with plans to go for an early morning hike on Sunday. I kept changing my mind between Wolf Trail and the hike from Old Chelsea to Keogan Hut. We arrived at the Chelsea Parking lot just before 9 a.m. There were only a few other cars, but we knew by the time we were done the “leafers” and “tillys” would take all the spots.

It was a chilly morning, and I’d opted to wear my old gortex jacket that has a light fleece liner. At least it has pit zips to help cool off during exercise. Under it I had a long-sleeved mid-weight merino wool top. Because the temperature was just above zero when we left, and I thought we were only going for a couple of hours, I wore my lightweight cross country skiing pants. That was a mistake because the ventilation wasn’t great and I soon overheated.

By the time we’d hiked up Ridge Road and crossed the parkway to the Penguin parking lot, sweat was dripping off my nose. We stopped at a picnic table and I took off my jacket, attaching it to my backpack. The parking lot at Penguin was deserted, but we knew that as soon as people had eaten their turkey and desserts, they’d be out for a stroll.

We continued along Ridge Road, and gradually started to see more people. When we arrived at Keogan Hut, it wasn’t even 11 a.m. Given that it was too early for lunch and our legs were still relatively fresh, we decided to continue on to Huron Hut. The leafers were out in full force. About 500m from Keogan is a parking lot. Groups of people scampered down the hill to the hut with their Timmy Hos in hand. Don’t think that hike will burn off many calories.

The leaves were spectacular on the weekend. We stopped at Huron lodge to eat our now cold chestnuts. I’d microwaved them before we left in hopes of tossing them on top of one of the wood stoves. But neither hut had fires going when we arrived and we couldn’t find any matches. (Note to self: pick up matches or lighter from the dollar store.) We ate part of our lunch, but quickly packed up when a plastic wagon arrived full of screaming children.

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Huron Hut is close to the Etienne Brule lookout. A father had pulled his two youngsters down the path. Sigh, we weren’t going to be able to “commune” with nature. We continued along Ridge Road and arrived at the parking lot for the Champlain Lookout. It was packed. Parking control was radioing down the hill when a spot opened up. Traffic went slowly around the loop before the parking lot. Tourists with cameras hanging around their necks strolled around snapping pictures of staircases (but not going down them). 

I admit to feeling a bit silly at this point walking around with poles. Every time they smacked the pavement, people turned around to see what was making the racket. As we stopped to unloop our hands, I noticed an elderly gentlemen trying to take a photo of his wife with the trees in the background. I offered to take their photo. He seemed quite surprised, but pleased. Then we arrived at the actual lookout, where the crowds oohed and aahed at the view.

Our hike down was uneventful except for the keys I noticed along the path. We debated what to do with them and decided to hang them off a sign using a branch in hopes that the person looking for them would see them.

All in all I think it works out to about 15 or 16 km. Next time I’ll remember to turn on the GPS in the phone before we leave home. It was having a hard time figuring out where we were in the parking lot.

 

NosyNeighbour has a friend who wanted to join us on a hike. They decided last week that we would hike on Saturday morning, with said friend arriving at our house at 8:00 a.m. I’m not really sure why they decided on such an early start, and I’m not one for waiting around. So I was quite pleased when he was only 10 minutes late arriving.

We set off across the Ottawa River, driving through Aylmer and heading along Highway 148 towards Luskville. After you leave the suburbs of Aylmer, the road snakes around a few corners, then suddenly a four-lane divided highway appears. At the second intersection, Hotel de ville, you take a right. There’s a small brown NCC sign indicating the Gatineau Park. Follow this until your first left, and then arrive at the parking lot. Read the rest of this entry »

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. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about our hikes. We are very fortunate to have the Gatineau Park so close by. In fact, I think I heard somewhere that it’s the largest natural park close to a large urban centre.

We’re people who take advantage of all it has to offer. In summer we cycle the parkways when they’re closed and sometimes use the beach. In the fall and spring we hike the trails and in winter we trade in the bikes for crosscountry skis, and maybe snowshoes this year. Most of these activities are free or relatively cheap. Read the rest of this entry »

Top of Rocky Mountain, with Mount Aspiring in the background

The last thing I expected inn New Zealand was to use my French. But yesterday we met four people from France while sitting at a cafe on the main street in Wanaka. We were having a well deserved pint (or two, or three, or four) after hiking the Diamond Lake trail, which in turn includes the Rocky Mountain Trail for an exception view of the Mount Aspiring Glacier. We had also hiked the Outlet Trail that runs along the Clutha River.

We were at a table for six and they were at a table for two, so I asked in French if they wanted to switch tables. I actually noticed that they were rolling tobacco and didn’t want to get smoke in my face. The wind not as strong yesterday and had switched to warm northwesterlies. It was a perfect summer day, where you close your eyes and the breeze pushes your hair off your face (if you’re facing the right direction). Read the rest of this entry »

Last Sunday we headed off for Wolf Trail, expecting more snow. We did see some, but it was mostly in the shady areas. Nothing compared to what we saw on Saturday morning.

And you know how it is when you’re hiking and you get mud on your hiking boots? You kind of think that maybe you might as well walk THROUGH the mud instead of trying to go around it. After all, that’s why I have poles, to test how deep it is and keep me from falling over.

Well, this is the result:

a

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