Sunday, December 15, 2013

Dawn Patrol on Wolf's Trail

'twas the morning after the snowstorm that was to bring at least 15cm (3 in) of fresh new powder.  With overnight temperatures near -20 deg C (-5 deg F), it was destined to be light and fluffy. Alarm clock set at 6am (on the day of rest), headed out to the trailhead before the break of dawn. Maintenance crews hadn't plowed the parking lot yet and I was the first to bust through the massive snowbank blocking the entrance-way. Always nice to be the first one to reach the trail head!

On the trail before sunrise, temperature around -12 C by then (10 F), the gradual climb wore off the chill that submerged the landscape. 

This was the first chance for me to try my new gear consisting of:

- Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Hybrid shell
Black Diamond Coefficient Hoody
- Arc'teryx Beta AR pants
- Helly Hansen Warm Pant

I didn't want to overdress and steam up on this 8mk (5 mile) loop with a fair bit of vertical rise, and with 15 lbs of gear in my backpack. Lets just say that if I wasn't moving, I'd be chilling.  With an MEC T3 turtleneck under my hoody, I was comfortable and dry the whole way, lowered the front zip of my shell only during the steepest climbs. Legs felt fine under the surprisingly loud Goretex Pro pants from Arc'teryx. First impressions of the HH Merino/Lifa blend long-john's are very good (comfortable, dry, warm). 

The one new piece of gear that I left at home (but wished I had with me) were my MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes. My Atlas 12 shoes have lots of grip but not enough to stop me from slidding on side-slopes and falling down a few times. 

Took picture at the usual spots along the way,   

The infamous creek crossing, without the old log bridge. 

The infamous beaver pond. 

First lookout, shortly after sunrise. 

Next lookout along the way up.

Altitude (uncalibrated) check. 

Lookout with view of the Ottawa river far away.

The infamous bench with a view (reservations recommended). 

Back-side view.

Reaching trail #1 toward the fire tower (but nowhere near there). 

The infamous moutain-top lake/swamp.

And finally, multiple views of the gorgeous Tawinda Lookout.

On the way back, downhill and rehabilitated trail, half the time it takes to walk up the other side of the loop. Crossing trail #1 again, toward Western lookout (but nowhere near there). 

This next picture sums it all up, it was like "walking on a cloud" today on the Wolf/Blanchet loop (trail #62) in Gatineau Park near chelsea QC. 

In the last half-hour of this 3-hour outing, came across the first of three groups on their way up.  One of a few small stream crossings below. 

To rest-up from this little work-out, nothing like heading back home to spend 1+ hour clearing the driveway :-)

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