SOLITUDE IN GATINEAU PARK-2 HOURS, 3 SKIERS 5 DEER
By: Dev Paul (2007/03/16)
On Sunday I had one of the nicest skis of the year. Warm temps and fast conditions. Too bad my son was sick as we were planning to head out together to do a P10 to Champlain skate ski. Anyway, I enjoyed it myself.
Sunday evening I looked at the weather forecast....HUGE MELTDOWN coming during the week.
You have to be thankful for having FITNESS AND FRIENDs (more importantly friends who are also fit...). Around 9 pm I called James Young, "James, let's go ski tomorrow morning". I have a 9 am meeting at work in Kanata...if we start at 6:20 am, we can get the loop in from Gamelin up the Parkway to Penguin to Gossip Corner and back by 8:20...then I can be in the office by 8:50 and in the meeting room by 9 am". James replies, "Hey, that's a great idea...the rest of the week might be a wash out....let's do it"
What we were forgetting in our excitement was that we had just flipped to daylight savings time. The next day when the alarm went off at 5:15, I felt like I was getting up from REM sleep. Anyway, I guess I was...my body was saying 4:15. An hour later after breakfast, James and I meet in the dark at Gamelin. The groomer had just gone by, it was around minus 4 and the conditions were heavenly.
In 1986 as a Cadet at Royal Military College I came to Ottawa to race at the OAC triathlon (Mike Collingwood's race). Somewhere up front, guys like Rick Hellard, Mark Pelletier, and Bruce McNicholl were fighting for podium spots. The course was amazing and that day, I told myself that I needed to get posted to Ottawa, simply because the bike riding was so amazing in Gatineau Park. It had to be better than being a single guy in Cold Lake or Goose Bay doing Aircraft Repair on CF-18's to get them ready to escort Russian Aircraft out of our Northern skies...anyway, by 1989 I got posted here. Even though I live in Kanata, Gatineau Park is home. It is where I go when I want to clear my head. There is nothing more amazing than starting a ski in the dark and cresting Penguin as orange light floods the entire city, which you can see from the top of the lookout at Penguin.
Back to the ski with James...again, you have to like being fit, and having friends who are fit that are willing to try anything. We got to the base of Penguin and the groomer had gone by, "James, let's do a Penguin to Gossip Corner TT...the conditions look perfect". A few minutes later, James and I are hammering up Penguin. We did it as more of the Team Time Trial...I lead up Penguin to the summmit, and then James pulled the flats on Ridge Road. I'm not sure this is a fair tradeoff. There is no real draft following someone up Penguin and on the flats, the 140 lb guy (me) get a big pull behind a 165 lb guy (James). Our impromptu TT was awesome. The time was not smoking fast (8:30 to the top, 17:20 to Gossip Corner). By 7:38 AM we had already skied to gossip corner...who say's that only guys in the Army do more by 9 am than most people do in a day...some of us civilians can keep up too :-)
The ski back to the parking lot and Gamelin was beautiful. By now, we were in bright morning sun, on perfectly groomed white chorduroy carpet. Thanks Lafleur for a fabulous job. The ski ends and then James and I make it to our respective jobs in Kanata. I was the the third guy to show up at my meeting. Four people rolled in after me, all blaming either daylight savings time or the Outlook time change bug (yes it does exist...its not a lame corporate excuse for being late).
I was so pumped by the Monday morning ski that I decided to do it again on Tuesday morning. On the Tuesday ski it was solo...but this time I did have some company. Over 2 hours, I bumped into three other skiers, likely trying to do the same as me...enjoy good conditions before the meltdown. On the way down Blacks Lake I had my nose hanging over my front knee with my torso resting on my quads in as aero a tuck as possible. The track was glazed over and it was certainly as fast as biking, and maybe even faster.
One thing I left out was that on Sunday, a family of 5 deer had decided to hang out at the bottom of the Black Lake descent. Well, it turns out that they were back. But I had my head looking down at the track between my leg and I was in an aero tuck that would make World Cup winning downhiller Erik Guay envious. Anyway, just as I reached the bottom of Blacks, my quads gave out and I opened up. It was certainly timely as I would have otherwise had a nice 5 deer+1 skier tangle at 60 kph.
Anyway, those are my stories from the Gats this week. I love the place and we are just so fortunate in this city to have them as a resource. For me, in all seasons, it is a peaceful spiritual solitude that I get when exercising there early in the morning. I just wish that the Keski organizers would use more of the trail system. Not only would it make the course more interesting, but out of towners would be encouraged to come back and use the entire network and spend more money in our city...and in the end, money makes the world go round.