Desperate for a break from the city, my family and work responsibilities, and needing some solitude and silence for myself I planned this backcountry ski trip, kind of last minute, for the end winter.
After being out in the woods for Laurent's birthday (https://outsideways.com/journals/birthday-in-the-woods/) I decided I needed to get back out into nature, soon, and by myself.
So as soon as I got home from that trip I started planning this one. Having become familiar in the last 8 months with the refuges throughout the laurentians (http://renee.tougas.net/blog/refuge-laurentians/) I got out my maps and figured out where I could go for 3 days and two nights, skiing a very moderate amount and staying in a different shelter each night (ideally).
This research landed me in Parc régional de la Forêt Ouareau (https://www.parcsregionaux.org/parcs-regionaux/parcs/parc-regional-de-la-foret-ouareau/), only 1.5 hours north of Montreal.
The refuges are available for rent and most often people will book the whole cabin ($110-$130/night) and bring a gang, it's more cost effective that way for sure.
However, if the whole cabin isn't reserved, you can call 5 days in advance and make a reservation for one person ($30/night). This is really only possible on the weekdays since the refuges are booked up, well in advance, on the weekends all through winter.
A couple weeks before my trip I made my plans, tentative around being able to reserve places to sleep at Refuge Toussaint and Refuge Prud'homme (or some other refuges in Foret Ouareau). If this didn't work I had another option in mind over by Saint Donat, to stay in the refuges managed by the Club de Plein Air Saint Donat (https://clubpleinairsaint-donat.org/).
After being in the park mid-week I see that midweek rentals are not a problem. I didn't see anyone for most of trip. Yay! Total win for solitude.
This trip was not about "going the distance" but about getting outdoors, getting out of the city for a mini-vacation, being by myself immersed in nature.
I hadn't planned it this way but it was also a confidence boosting trip for me. My first ever backcountry solo trip after years of family trips and more recently, trips with just Damien.
Every part came very naturally to me and I felt so at home and even though I got injured on a downhill section (see journal entries for details) I was so happy. I felt so emotionally and mentally good.
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All packed up and ready to go. I started late on all three days.
First day I arrived from the city I started around 1:30. Day 2 and 3 I got off around noon, but it was really good timing for letting the snow warm up so I wasn’t skiing in icy conditions.
This photo was snapped by the first people I saw in 2 days, a couple hiked into the cabin just as I was leaving. I met them again later in Saint Come at the restaurant I was eating supper at.
You should see the other guy. Oh wait, there is no other guy, just the snow where I plowed my face 2 days ago. My first “black” eye ever. It wasn’t like this yesterday.
Without a mirror the only way to see your face is to take selfies. This morning I was feeling a little rough so thought I’d take a picture to assess the damage. I’m looking a little rough!
Almost time for bed. I had the time and enough melted warm water to give myself an upper body sponge bath. That felt great.
Watched the full moon rise, behind thin cloud cover, on this first day of spring.
Not so sore tonight. Did 9.6 KMs, not too bad for starting at noon and taking it careful.
A great day.
Last night’s refuge had a big pot I could melt snow in. I then either boiled that melted snow for food and drinks or I filtered it for today’s drinking water.
No pot here so I needed to find something to hold the snow. Ziplock food bags to the rescue. Happy I had my coffee pot along so I could melt snow for filtered/boiled drinking water and eat and drink from my mug/cup at the same time, which was handy since I needed to eat supper!