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  1. With another beautiful weekend filled with bluebird skies upon us, we decided to answer the call of the mountain and return to Mont Cascades for some more snowshoeing adventure. On this visit, we started our trek through the mountain from the World Cup side, versus the main chalet side. The trails from both ends link up once you reach the summit. The trails on this side start by passing in front of the World Cup chalet. Here you will find a large trail map flanked with snowshoes (reminiscent of those we used to use in elementary school). We choose trail #8, which is classified as double black diamond for difficulty. For the most part, the trail is fairly easy to hike, however as you approach the summit, there are two sections where the climb really increases in difficulty. Nothing impossible but the snow on this particular visit had a tendency to slip away under the snowshoes due to the steepness, and there were rocks along the path during the ascent. Along the trail, the views afforded of the Gatineau River as well as the surrounding region only got better the farther we went. Nearing the summit of the Triple chairlift, we could see Camp Fortune in the distance. From here, the trail continues with little change to the elevation until you approach the other summit of the Promenade Quad chairlift. At this point, you can branch off onto one of the other trails that will lead you to the main chalet, or loop around for a longer return to the World Cup side. We decided to do our route in reverse for the return trip. Well, the steep sections we previously ascended turned out to be a tad more challenging to descend, although nothing that couldn't be handed without a bit of patience and concentration. Overall, another great visit, filled with plenty of adventure and enjoyment. Surprisingly it would be hard to argue that the trails at Mont Cascades are not some of the best in the region. We always have a great time here. From easier more tame trails to steep challenging terrain, there's definitely something for everyone.
  2. I haven't got in a lot of snowshoeing this year, so this morning I checked out the snowshoe trails near Camp Fortune. What was going to be a quick trip of a few short loops turned into a Snowshoe/Ski adventure around the entire Camp Fortune ski area. I was using snowshoe skis. Short fat skis with telemark bindings and a built skin under the foot for climbing. First the crude trail map: I started with the loop that that goes up and round the Alexander and McDonald. The start of the trail just behind the Ski Club building. After going through the woods I skinned up the ski hill. The snow was crusty out of the woods. An old skin trail Nice view of the valley Now to ski down through the crust! The crust sucked so I went back in the woods. Near the bottom a jump is being created, plus an air bag. T-bar trail I got on the Clifford quad lift. Skied through the woods left of Marshall Nice snow and crusty snow Took the lift back up and skied across, past Slalom and down a skidoo trail The trail links up with Sparks on the Skyline side The start of Sparks I took a mountain bike trail down And came out on Bud Clark Then went back into the woods between Clark and Sparks. It was a little steep for light snowshoe ski gear but I got to the bottom. I took the Skyline lift up then skied down the Meech Crossing. After going up the Meech lift I checked out Au-Naturel a couple times. Then back to the Valley The quad is still down. Back to Marshall The aerial park. The snow was really nice and soft in this area. This was the best area and the only spot with snowshoe trail signs. No one had made any tracks. Alone in the woods, go explore.
  3. After having received some new snow during the week , it was time to get back out on the snowshoe trails last Saturday (March 10th). This time the location was in the Ottawa Greenbelt, which is part of the NCC. The Beaver Trail is located in the Stony Creek Swamp area, about 15 minutes south west of Bayshore Shopping Centre. Typically you need a snowshoe pass to access the NCC trails in Gatineau Park, however the trails in the Greenbelt are free. The trail is fairly flat, and on this visit, it was also well traveled so the fresh soft snow had been packed down. Luckily we went off to the sides, in the untouched snow. There are several portions that cross wood boardwalks, over the frozen water. No doubt, the area would be quite spectacular to see in the summer, so a return visit is in order. Overall, it is a nice area to snowshoe, and there is a trail that leads off out of the immediate area, to make your adventure last even longer. Apparently the trails from here link up to others that you can take all the way down to Kingston.
  4. It was a beautiful Sunday morning at Mont Cascades. After several days that brought some fresh snow, the trails were all covered nicely with fresh powder and a soft but firm base. The trails at Mont Cascades are suitable for all skill levels and difficulties and are free to access. There is a parking lot located right at the trail entrance. Almost all trails lead you to the summit via the backside of the mountain. The #5 trail is the most direct route but is the steepest to travel. For today's visit, we took a combination of the #2-3 trails, and then the #4 trail to the summit area. This route is on average easy to intermediate but provides a nice scenic trek through the forest. As you near the summit, you are treated to views of the Gatineau River and the surrounding region. The trip up to near the summit and back to the parking is approximately 3.5 kilometres, with a vertical of 90 metres. We did not venture to the absolute top on this visit due to coming poor weather (freezing rain). To give you an idea, continuing to the top would add an additional 40 metres of vertical to the trip for an approximate total of 130 metres. Mont Cascades is a great location to hike and enjoy. The trails are easy to follow and are quite enjoyable to explore. The views along the way make you want to press forward and continue on. There are two trails (the yellow and grey) that start from the World Cup side of the mountain and head towards the summit. Something we will try on our next visit... We thought it would be a relatively cold day to go snowshoeing as the temperature was being advertised as -16'c with the windchill. Yes, in the open area of the parking you could feel the fridged wind, but once you enter into the forest and as you ascend the mountain, you no longer feel the cold, and actually end up removing some layers, notably the neck warmer. Don't let cold weather fool you into not going out to snowshoe, you'd be missing out on a great experience. The quiet sounds of nature and snow. Surprisingly there was an area filled with birds up above in the trees, as you will hear in the below video clips.
  5. A fun snowshoeing adventure through Mount Royal Park in Montreal that almost ended at the hospital. Here's our adventure... Ana and I both arrived at the Mount Royal Park around 3:30pm. The park features cross-country ski trails and snowshoeing trails. We started our hike near the main pavilion, in which you can change, lock your personal belongings or even rent skates, snowshoes or equipment. Mount Royal seen from the top of Place Ville-Marie. From here the starting points of the various trails are all marked. For our hike, it was the purple snowshoe signals that we needed to follow. This trail is a loop of around 3km in length so regardless of where you begin, you will eventually end back at your starting point. Just a few minutes after we began the signals used to guide yourself along the trail started becoming hard to follow as they were spaced much too far apart to be able to spot. Backtracking after having gone in the wrong direction, we quickly got ourselves back on track. At several points, the snowshoe trail runs parallel to the cross country ski trails and in a few instances actually crosses them. Heading deeper into the forest the trail rises and descends, giving with each step an excitement of discovery, to see what we will see next during our trek. Two trees twisted together, that made a creaking sound as the wind made them sway back and forth. The trail turns and then heads down the side of the mountain. Eventually, the purple signals disappear and are replaced with blue signals in the trees. Continuing on, the trail leads us to a point where a fallen tree blocks the intended path. At the time I took the picture, the caption was going to read "Where we were supposed to go...". A simple course correction around the obstacle and we are able to press on. Heading down more and more, we cross another cross-country ski trail and start seeing the lights of the downtown skyline coming into view. The Mount Royal park is really stunning, and it is amazing to have such a location situated right in the middle of the bustling city. We took a short break to spot famous downtown landmarks such as Place Ville-Marie and its roof-top search light. Back on the trail, we are lead further and further down the mountain, and both Ana and I start getting concerned that we are heading away from where we intended to be. For me, questions such as the change from Purple to Blue signals also lead me to wonder if we had stumbled onto another trail that would end elsewhere. One thing was for sure, night was quickly setting in. Ever adventurous we continued on, despite wondering if we should turn around and retrace our path back to the start. A few minutes later we ended up at the Montreal General Hospital. Things were not looking promising to say the least as the signals seemed to be leading us straight for the emergency department. Since we were well hydrated and dressed warmly, we decided that we weren't ready to declare and emergency and continued on. Eventually, the trail started heading back into the forest, just in time as snow started to fall and the wind was increasing in strength. Climbing up the mountain once again we then saw lights in the distance. It was the pavilion from the start and the skating rink. A few minutes later we arrived, our hike and adventure having come to an end. The trail was quite enjoyable, the views from the mountain were stunning. Both Ana and I having a big love for Montreal, got to experience the city in a new way. The park itself is also quite easy to access, as several STM bus routes pass along its borders. There is also a large skating rink near the pavilion that is nicely setup and arranged. We had been wanting to experience the park for a while and finally got our wish. While our experience was great and lots of fun, I do have to say that the signals could have been made to be less far apart in the critical areas where a change of direction was required so that second guessing the direction you were heading wasn't a frequent occurrence. In the end, we did start our hike shortly before sundown so the poor lighting as a result and unfamiliarity of the park definitely helped complicate our adventure.
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