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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.

 

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It was a long muggy summer, definitely not one that was conducive to hiking. We’d been waiting for the weather to cool off long enough to kill of bugs to make a hike in the Gatineau Park more enjoyable. 

Despite a rainy forecast for last weekend, Sunday morning was looking good. After hanging up a few loads of laundry we set off to hike Ridge Road from Old Chelsea. I knew that the Army Run had shut things down along the Sir JAM parkway and by the Portage Bridge, so we decided to drive through the park to get to the other side. 

There was also a road closure in the park, which forced us up towards the Champlain Lookout, then back down the Fortune Parkway. A bit of a detour but also a chance to see if the leaves were changing. They’ve only just begun.

Federal action plan money had leveled out some hiking paths last year. I was a bit disappointed to see Ridge Road almost completely graded. While it did make the path a lot drier, it definitely took away some of the challenge on the steeps, heading up to the Skyline Loop. Don’t get me wrong, it was still steep, but I missed having that unevenness that forces you to pay attention to loose rocks and pick your way through the mud. In fact, on the one section that hadn’t been completely regraded, I tripped on a rock and almost fell.

Can’t wait to get out again this weekend.

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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 our standard “quick, we need to hike” kind of hike because it’s close to the city and well maintained. There can be mud, but it’s the pitch that keeps us going back.

When our hiking season first starts, this hike is filled with “water breaks” after each steep climb. Given the lower temperature and what we hoped were hiking legs we figured we could do it quickly today without water.

Thankfully we did think to bring our poles. These were essential when we realized that yesterday’s city snow had actually accumulated in the Park.

We’d only brought the cell phone, so the pics aren’t the greatest, but they do prove that we did see snow today!

Because we’re both still recuperating from colds, today’s hike was a short one. We’d also walked back from Landsdowne Park last night so didn’t feel the need to go too far.

We started off by Old Chelsea at the bottom of Ridge Road and hiked up to the lookout where the trail turns a sharp right and links up with the Skyline Trail. There and back in and an hour and 10 minutes.

On the way back down we saw lots of leafers. One of them, clearly having started at Penguin and just beginning his first climb, even asked if there was a Tim’s nearby. Buddy, have another donut! But I suppose at least he was making an effort.

So, it was a quick up and down, with not many leaves left on the trees. Fall is definitely upon us.

We set off for the Gatineau Park early this morning, despite the pea-soup fog that shielded the hills. By 9:10 a.m. we were setting off from the Chelsea parking lot on Kingsmere Road. From there our hike began at the start of Ridge Road (Trail#1).

The fog was quite thick and I didn’t think to take any pics for until we got to Keogan Lodge, where the sun looked like it might finally burn off the fog.  We stopped there for a snack break then continued up and up, past Huron Lodge to the Champlain lookout. Read the rest of this entry »

Monday morning bright and early my friend Brenda came to pick me up for a hike in the Park. I suggested she bring along her dogs, knowing how much they must miss being able to run free in the country since their move back into town. Read the rest of this entry »

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