Really, who wants to ski out of P8? The parking lot is almost always crowded, the trails are wide, and busy, if you go north, you don’t get very far before you have to take your skis off and cross the road. The trail on the other side is littered with gravel for at least 100 ft. I’m not convinced, are you? I found out a little secret though, I’ll tell you if you promise not to tell anyone.  Get up really really early….and by early I mean wake up at 6 AM on a Sunday before your baby and husband are awake, and its -24, and go skiing. Seriously.  You’ll love it. Once you wake up and warm up that is.

With my husband off to Victoria for a course for the week, and my mother-in-law babysitting I knew the chance of me getting out skiing this week would be pretty unlikely…even if I could go, my little guy has decided that going to bed at 11pm, waking up at 12, staying up until 2, and then getting up again at 4, 5, and 630 when my alarm goes off has left me a walking zombie. To top it off, work is picking up big time. I am exhausted.

I woke up Sunday morning groggy and thinking this early morning ski was a really dumb idea.  To top it off, I had left my warm pants in my bedroom where my in-laws were sleeping so I had to brave the cold with nothing more than spandex and a pair of long underwear…I drove out to P8, only doing 80 on the highway since we got a flat, and are driving around on a spare with an 80km max until we get an appointment next week.  Getting the evil eye from other drivers is never the best start to a Sunday morning. I wished that I had just stayed in bed.

There wasn’t a car at P8 when I arrived.  The temperature on my dashboard read -24.  I headed out, my skis slow and crunchy on the snow.  Shivering, I thought I would last 30 minutes.  As the first kilometer passed I warmed up and I cheered up. The trail was perfectly groomed and my tracks were the first ones of the morning. I had the trail to myself. It was beautiful and peaceful. The sun was rising, the sky was brilliant shades of orange, pink and purple, and I kept skiing, promising myself that from now on, I would always get up at 6 AM so I could have that amazing feeling that it was just me, my skis, the snow and the trees, and that I had the entire park all to myself.

Date Skied: January 22, 2012

Gatineau Loppet Training Update:

I tackled just under 25km on Sunday and could have kept going.  It felt pretty darn good! I know I should be out for 3-4 hours by now, but hey, we’ll see what the loppet brings!
Overview:  The Gatineau Parkway is really your main option from P8. Its nice and wide for night skiing, and although there are some long hills, a great place to head out from if you are out with beginner skate-skiers.  The parkways has gently rising, long ascents and descents around P8.
For those who like: learning how to ski on wide trails, working on their technique, quick and easy access from Chelsea to the park, heading to some of Chelsea’s little restaurants/pubs for an apres-ski, a great place to bring baby in the Chariot!
Don’t Ski here if:  you want the trails all to yourself,
Directions: Follow Chemin Chelsea to Chemin Meech Lake if coming from the 105.  P8 is on the right hand side where the Gatineau Parkway would normally cross Chemin Meech Lake.
The Trails: As mentioned, the trails are wide, with gentle ascents and descents.  Although not terribly exciting, its a great place to work on technique, or bring a beginner.
Bringing Baby:  Although crowded, this is a pretty good place to head out from with a ski pull. I think the only pain would be navigating the road crossings.  Heres hoping to the arrival of my ski pull this weekend, so I can speak from experience!
Some Great Facts: Charles Hodgson who runs the fabulous Guide Gatineau Site provided some great info in the comment section, and I thought I’d share it here.  “The section of parkway between P8 and P9 is semi-officially known as “the north loop” and quite unofficially as “the doldrums.” I’ve asked for years as to why and when it was dubbed the doldrums. Haven’t gotten a date but the suspicion is that this section is comparatively flat and thus dull.One person with long experience told me that before Huron Lodge was officially a ski lodge it was an unofficial one called “the tool shed.” I’ve never been able to find documentary support for this though.”  Thanks Charles! And please keep these facts coming!

Breath in the cold morning air
Huron Hut