Two weeks ago, a contact from Ski de
Fond Quebec assured me there was ‘at least three feet’ of snow at
Foret Montmorency, and that the Quebec team was having a season kick-off
training camp this past weekend. Intrigued, yet slightly dubious,
Karl and I decided to put faith in our Quebec friends and leave Ottawa’s
blooming tulips for the barren-lands north of Quebec City.
Foret Montmorency is a magical place
well known to many skiers in Eastern Canada. The host of early-season
Eastern races year after year, it gets early snow and it gets late snow.
The trails are built on logging roads that follow river valleys and
traverse the steep hillsides of the eastern Laurentides. At 700 metres,
it is high for Eastern Canada.
15 minutes from the Foret, though, and
about 680 metres, the snow was nowhere to be found. I had forgotten
my running shoes, and the conversation revolved around what I would
do if there was no snow and I had no running shoes. The forestry school
campus that hosts skiers is the perfect place for a training camp: nothing
to do but eat, sleep and ski – which, if there is no snow, leaves
lots of free time.
However, our Quebec contact was quite
correct- at the magical kilometer cent-trois (one-oh-three), the turn-in
to Foret Montmorency, there was snow- lots of it. We checked in, picked
up our key, and went to bed, dreams full of nicely groomed spring skiing
and brilliant sunshine. The next morning, full of hearty Quebec
food, we headed out into a steady rain, to find lots of snow, but no
grooming. In many places, there was about three feet of snow-
in exposed areas, only a couple of inches. We skied with the Quebec
team Saturday morning, who took us right to the top of the massive climb.
We then explored the river valley trails and headed in for lunch, wet,
tired, but content with getting on solid snow. The afternoon was more
of the same- classic instead of skate, but steady rain. After a solid
5 hour day of slow (really slow) skiing, we turned in, ate some great
roast beef, watched some Giro d’Italia with our Quebec friends, and
The next morning dawned sunny, and we
headed out with a plan: to ski as far as we could towards Camp Mercier,
the next stop south on the Highway. We didn’t quite make it, but we
did get to a really cool snow-covered valley which offered all sorts
of good skiing promise, if we didn’t have to turn back for lunch.
A short classic ski after lunch and we headed home.
Overall, a great weekend of skiing, and a good way to get the ball rolling for the dryland training season. The conversation on the way home centred around training plans for the coming year, and the philosophical question of whether we came to ski this weekend because of the novelty, or because of the real training value. The conclusion was that they’re not mutually exclusive.