Saturday, August 15, 2009

Walk Faster Than A Mosquito

Hi All,
At the very bottom of this days blog I have given you a sneak preview of the newest 'in process' painting with some colour applied. I'm not going to show you the whole painting today.

To enlarge the view of a photo click on it. To see more of my paintings, scroll down to the bottom of the page where Froggy lives. Click on Froggy and you will hop to the online store with links to eBay. To find me on Etsy search for johnredmond (no spaces). A Google search for 'John Redmond Ottawa' will get some hits for you too.

Today I went for a hike along Skyline trail (#6) in the Gatineau Park. It is full summer heat in our area right now - Fantastic! But it is hot for hiking . . . circa 30 C. I arrived at the park about 11:00 a.m. and it was hot. I don't think I would have gone in the afternoon heat. I took some photos to share the sights with you. The camera was mostly cooperative. Although I knew it was running low on battery I still managed to take some shots that will give you a sense of what natural beauty we have at our doorstep in Ottawa.

The photo at the top of this blog page is the view you have from a big bench located at the fork in the trails. The view is of the Ottawa River Valley and Ottawa. Downtown Ottawa cannot be seen. The air is thick with a hot humid summer haze. The second panorama photo was taken at a lookout located on the Southeast side of the trail. On the map it would be located almost at the end of the loop. You can see the highway to Hull and Ottawa in the distance. There is also a big bench at this lookout. They are extra large benches so you can sit down with a hiking pack on your back.

The photo above shows the approach to the bench and the beautiful view seen in the first photo. From the parking lot at Kingsmere to this area there is quite a bit of uphill walking (1km) which is sometimes steep. The bench is a welcome rest spot for the hiker and feeding ground for the mosquitoes.

One kilometer back to the beginning at Kingsmere. The hardy head up Ridge Road...steep to the entrance of Skyline Trail. You could go in other directions if you choose to.

The photo above shows the bike path leading up to the entrance of Skyline trail. The sign on the right side of the photo shows the way. See it below too.

These are photos of the trail which was created soon after Gatineau Park was created in 1938. Making the trail was a depression era work project. Skyline is also indicated on maps as trail 6. It is a loop that follows the steep edge of the mountain. I photoed the area map posted in the parking area. It can be viewed toward the bottom of this page. On the map Skyline is a narrow oval loop. You can tell by the close contour lines that the escarpment is steep.

The photo above shows the view as you step onto Skyline trail #6. In the winter season these trails are used as cross-country ski trails. In the summer they are for hiking and most but not all are for biking. Skyline is supposed to be for hiking only.

I took a photo (above) of a big hunk of rock sticking out of the ground. For my Irish friends, this is the Canadian Shield - some of the oldest rock on this watery planet. The Gatineau Hills are part of the Canadian Shield while the low land of the Ottawa Valley was once the bottom of a vast inland sea. Whales used to blow water out of their spouts while swimming in those waters where now we are stuck in city traffic.

At one point in the trail there are two very large trees that have fallen. Most likely they were toppled during one of the storms that often move down the Ottawa River Valley. It was several years ago when the tree closest to the path fell. I remember it well. Now little saplings are growing out of the dirt in the roots. These trees will be part of Skylines landscape for many moons to come.

There was more traffic on the trail today than during the week. Hikers, runners, bikers and all make good use of the trail. Still it is not very crowded. You say, 'Salut', and everyone is on their way.

The other wild life was scarce today. I did notice the rustlings of a few squirrels in the bushes and one came racing across the path in front of me in a panic to get up a tree away from scary me. There must have been a Daddy Long Leg convention somewhere in the Park today. The speedy little spiders made good use of the public trail. I try to be very, 'Jain' and not step on them having already gained karma for murdering many of them in my ill spent youth.

There are black bears in the area. I have not had to put my bear wrestling training to use in the park but I have come across their steamy blessings on the trails. One does need to be aware that this is their environment. It is a good idea to let other hikers know that you have seen bears or fresh bear scat. You don't want to upset a mama bear with her cubs.

Today was too hot to where my jean jacket or a long sleeve shirt. I did wear my long jean pants. The mosquitoes are out in full force. If you stop for a drink or a rest you are a mosquito cafe. Today I just walked fast and moved on when they seemed to notice the refreshment stand. The old 18th guides for emigrants thinking of
settling in Canada warned them of the little blood suckers. I didn't put on repellent. On a camping trip into the woods its a must.

It takes about an hour to hike around the trail. The time will depend on how fast you move. Sometimes I jog around Skyline. The trail is full of roots crossing the trail. They stick out and some are loose waiting for you to trip on them. Rocks stick out of the ground too. Sometimes you will find big chunks of the Shield that are the trail itself. In other places the rock can be loose.

There are low lying spots that get quite wet and muddy when it rains or in the springtime when the snow melts. The kind park folk have placed big rocks in these area so you can cross the wet areas. Or you can follow the bypasses made by hikers. There are small streams that cross the trail in places. Sometimes the rocks are good enough for a bridge. In other places parks folk have places cut logs to form a rough bridge. I posted a photo of one here on this page.

This is a preview of the very much 'in process' painting . . .where it goes anyone knows . . .

Enjoy the hike,

john redmond
Ottawa, Canada

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