Waiting for the snow to fall – Gatineau Park
To buy a ski pass or to not buy a ski pass…this is the question we ponder as we sit in Starbucks, contemplating the weather forecast and lack of snowfall. The deadline to buy discounted season ski passes for Gatineau Park’s 200 kms of groomed trails is midnight tonight (November 30th). I already have mine. I know what it is like to arrive at the trailhead without it. I would rather have the pass than fumble with the hassle of buying a day pass, especially when I know I will be skiing all winter. My friend, on the other hand, is contemplating whether to buy the season’s pass or just pay as you go. As a former bike racer in Europe, this will be her first cross country ski season in many years. Will she ski enough to make the pass worth while?
Every year, as December approaches, cross country ski enthusiasts of the Ottawa-Gatineau region start to get a little twitchy. The ski season depends on mother nature. When will she deliver that first dump of snow? Will it last? The die-hards are already out – they have been on roller skis since the car entrance to the park closed in November. Next up – the dedicated – their rock skis are primed and ready to go when that first scant layer is laid down. Not me – I only have one pair of skis. I will wait for the good stuff.
My pass burns a hole in my pocket. Most winters start the same…waiting for the snow to arrive. Once there is enough for the groomers to come out and declare the parkways open, I am out there. It may be a group of us. It may only be me, but when they say it is go time, we are all out the door and on those skis. The old legs may feel a little like jelly, but that is just fine. The enthusiasm and sheer pleasure of skiing in the park more than makes up for it. After all, this is skiing at its best. With only the moonlight to guide our way, we will ski. It is like our youth comes back to us as we race through the trails, rushing down the hills, panting as we climb back up them again. The night air chills our faces, our cheeks flush with excitement. We ski until our bodies are ready to drop!
We’ve done this before. We know that the best place to park is P5, P8 or P10 – it is downhill to the finish and then off to the pub. The place is always packed after the first snow. Everyone is out and living it up! Plans for the weekend are made over beers and burgers…the juiciest and tastiest of burgers after a night on the snow. Perhaps we will meet up the road at Soupe Herbe for our Saturday post ski soups and chili. Perhaps it will be back to the Chelsea pub for fondue!
Back in the coffee shop, we have moved from contemplating passes to contemplating routes. If there is enough snow, we can ski to the Fire Tower or perhaps the Champlain Lookout. Any day now…we just need that snow to fall.
*this post was written as my first assignment for the MatadorU writing course.