As part of our prep for our 2016 February New Zealand trip, we undertook a set of short and easy local hikes to help us accumulate some feet miles. Additionally, we hoped that these intro hikes would be beneficial to Brian's wife Lori - someone who has not traditionally done outdoorsy sorts of trips with us.

Some sort of ups and downs on these intro hikes was desired. Being in the land of the flats (ie - the Ottawa area), all we had of note was nearby Gatineau Park. Although only marginally hilly, it would have to serve as our stand-in for mountainous terrain.

A remarkably-extended fall helped us with our mission, with virtually no snow until several days after Christmas. We managed to get three hikes in during weekend days during December. The first was on the 12th, where we did a semi loop of 11km from Meech Lake over to the Western Hut and back. This route provided us with a decent (for Gatineau Park) ascent of about 700-800 feet. There was not a trace of winter anywhere to be found - entirely fall hiking conditions.
P12 Start
Determining our route
Uphill on Trail #2
Climbing to the plateau
Late Fall Puff
Late fall husk
Trinity of Fungi
Extremely un-wintry
Champlain Lookout
Champlain Lookout
Champlain Trail
Western Hut
Fall Wanderings
Hike #2 took place about a week later, on the 20th. Again we started from P12 near Meech Lake, and ascended up the long hill along trail #2 onto the Park's high plateau. Again we visited the Western Hut. On the return journey, however, a few of us (myself, Jenn and Andy) opted to extend the hike to 20+ km in length, with the rest returning along a shorter 10km-ish route. The faintest of snow dustings made it seem a tiny bit more like winter.
Ready for Hike #2
A bit wintrier
Approaching Western
Snack with a view
Optional Extended Hike
MckInstry Hut
Wolf Trail
Hike #3 took place a few days after Christmas. The first actual snowfall of any consequence had now fallen (albeit only a couple of centimetres), and the temperatures had finally started to definitively fall below the freezing point. Still well short of the snow depth required for snowshoes, we only had to add some traction aids (and some warmer clothing) in order to be properly prepared for this one. We chose something a bit more challenging: the Lusk Falls trail. Although relatively short at 5km total, the trail did provide us with a more rugged route and more elevation gain (about 1000 feet, more or less the most you can get on any one trail in Gatineau Park). Both were good tests for Lori, who had proven more than capable on our previous easier outings.
Wintrier yet again
Approaching Escarpment
Lusk Falls
Mystery Matthew
Weird Mix of Ice and Water
Arriving Pontiac Lookout
The [non-climbable] tower
Alternative Descent
Lusk Falls
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Gatineau Park NZ Prep Hikes - click map to view
Hike 1 - December 12
(Track color: )
Start Time: 11:51a.m.
End Time: 2:53p.m.
Duration: 3h1m
Distance: 11.1 km (6.9 mi)
Average Speed: 3.7 km/hr (2.3 mph)
Start Elevation: 513ft (156m) *
Max Elevation: 1177ft (359m) *
Min Elevation: 513ft (156m) *
End Elevation: 557ft (170m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 854ft (260m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 836ft (255m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph
Hike 2 - December 20
(Track color: )
Start Time: 9:15a.m.
End Time: 2:44p.m.
Duration: 5h29m
Distance: 20.19 km (12.55 mi)
Average Speed: 3.7 km/hr (2.3 mph)
Start Elevation: 589ft (179m) *
Max Elevation: 1344ft (410m) *
Min Elevation: 563ft (172m) *
End Elevation: 565ft (172m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 1636ft (499m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 1636ft (499m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph
Hike 3 - December 28
(Track color: )
Start Time: 9:32a.m.
End Time: 11:51a.m.
Duration: 2h18m
Distance: 4.92 km (3.06 mi)
Average Speed: 2.1 km/hr (1.3 mph)
Start Elevation: 289ft (88m) *
Max Elevation: 1324ft (403m) *
Min Elevation: 280ft (85m) *
End Elevation: 322ft (98m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 1026ft (313m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 1003ft (306m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph
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