.: Ski XCOttawa.ca :: Skiing in Ottawa and Gatineau Park

Gatineau Park Trail Running: Hot Weather Run
By:  Tom McCarthy   (2002/08/16)


Ottawa, as you all know, can get pretty humid and hot in the summer. There's something with the location we are in, at the junction of a lot of rivers, and right at the edge of the Eardley escarpment, that the humidity tends to collect over Ottawa and hang over downtown. On some days, you can just see the Peace Tower poking through the dense humid cloud, the flag on top hanging limply down as if reluctant to move because of the heat.

Unfortunately, those of us on some kind of training program still have to put in our hours on days like those. On Canada Day, one of the hottest days of summer, I had a three hour break from work to go training. It was in the middle of the day, and it was somewhere around 37 degrees in town, and 35 in the Park. I ran my favourite trail in hot weather; the trail that starts at O'Brien beach parking lot at Meech Lake and goes around the lake and back towards Herridge lodge.

The trail starts on the north-east side of the parking lot. Up a steep hill away from the parking lot, and immediately you are in the cool, fresh shade of a coniferous forest. The trail runs flat for a while, and then down a hill to my first rest break. There is a small bridge over a running brook which divides the main Meech Lake section from a smaller off-shoot. The water gets deep quickly right off the trail. On Canada Day, I just jumped in, shoes, shirt and all. I swam around, hopped out and kept running down the trail, through a hilly section and through a swamp. Up another hill, and then again onto Meech Lake. The trail goes past a rocky outcropping which is perfect for diving off. Again, a swim off the rock there, and then I continued on around Meech Lake. The trail goes deep into the forest now, on some of my favourite hilly terrain in the Park. After about 45 minutes, it ends at a T-junction. Turning left takes you to another lake with a beach. This was my turnaround point on Canada Day.

I jumped in the water 5 times that day, on a run that was an hour and a half. The soggy shoes and the wet t-shirt felt awesome. That trail from O'Brien is one of my Park favourites. Get out and try it while the weather is still hot. (A tip: the Park attendants who charge fees for the lot usually don't get there till around 10:00.)

Have a good run!

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