Are the New Gatineau Park Snowshoe Fees Fair?

Overlooking Lusk Lake in Gatineau Park on Snowshoes

Overlooking Lusk Lake in Gatineau Park on Snowshoes

In preparation for this winter’s fun, the NCC has announced discounted pricing on Gatineau Park cross country ski passes and… snowshoeing passes!?

Yep – after being free forever, the NCC has decided to institute a user fee for trekkers on the official snowshoeing trail system in Gatineau Park. So, beginning December 16th, that stroll through the forest will run you $7/day if you’re a grown-up  ($5 for youth, students and seniors) or $50 for the season.

I’ll be honest, my initial reaction to this news was comparable to my reaction to ATM charges… “uh, what exactly am I paying for here? You want to charge me to trudge in the cold, waist-deep snow through the woods in the middle of winter?

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Get Early Bird Discount on Gatineau Park Cross Country Ski and Snowshoe Passes

Cross Country Skiing back from Lusk Cabin

Cross Country Skiing back from Lusk Cabin

Looking to get out and enjoy Gatineau Park this winter? Now’s the time (or anytime before December 5th, really) to grab a ski pass… or a snowshoe pass!

The NCC is offering discounted ski and – for the first time and to mixed reviews – snowshoe passes online and at the Welcome Centre in Chelsea.

A day pass for snowshoeing will cost $7 for adults, $5 for students, youth and seniors, or pick up a season’s pass for between $40 and $50. Until December 5th, that price is $30-40.

For cross country skiers, you’re looking at $15/day for adults, $11 for students, youth, and seniors, or a full season’s pass for $95-180. The discounted rate before December 5th is $90 – $150.

Here is the full rate table:

CROSS-Country Ski Rates SEASON PASS DAILY PASS
Pre-season rates
(until December 15)
Regular rates
(starting December 16)
Adult (age 18 to 59) $150 $180 $15
Student (age 18 to 24)
Senior (age 60 and older)
$100 $105 $11
Youth (age 13 to 17) $90 $95
Family (2 adults and 3 youth) $335 $380 $33

 

SNOWSHOE Rates — NEW SEASON PASS DAILY PASS
Pre-season rates
(until December 15)
Regular rates
(starting December 16)
Adult (age 18 to 59) $40 $50 $7
Student (age 18 to 24)
Senior (age 60 and older)
$35 $45 $5
Youth (age 13 to 17) $30 $40
Family (2 adults / 3 youth) $125 $145 $17

For more info or to pick up your pass, head over to the Gatineau Park website or to the Gatineau Park Visitor Information Centre in Chelsea.

Asian Ladybug Invasion Not So New

Asian Ladybug, with a prominent "M" behind it's head

Asian Ladybug, with a prominent “M” behind it’s head

I was sure I had seen a strange ladybug when I was up at Lac La Peche last weekend, but my fellow campers poo-pooed my amateur entomology and my enthusiasm. When I mentioned the biting Asian ladybug I’d been hearing about all week to Erica, thinking I had redeemed my keen observations from the campsite, she shot back with “oh yeah, they’ve been around for years now.”

I found that strange since I don’t remember hearing anything about it, so I set about to do a little more research, just to ensure the record was straight.

Sure enough, Erica was right again (I really don’t know why I bother) – this Asian ladybug invasion is old news! A quick search found articles dating back to 2007, and a little more searching found a full history of the invasive species in North America, right back to a stowaway population that made it’s way ashore from a freighter in New Orleans, and quickly spread north. In the early 2000s there was an aphid infestation in southern Ontario (aphids are one of their favourite foods, so much so that they lay their larvae on the underside of leaves where aphids hang out), which is probably when the first major bloom of Asian ladybugs exploded, and they’ve been a pretty regular feature ever since.

The bugs had actually been here in the past: California introduced them as aphid control back in 1916 and 1965, and a number of States did the same in the 1970s and 80s, but those introductions appear to have been controlled and limited.

And they do, in fact, bite – something that feels close to a mosquito, but they don’t draw blood. However, when a large number bite at once – which seems so counter to everything I think I know about ladybugs (namely, that they’re cute) – it can be extremely irritating and itchy.

The Asian ladybug comes in a variety of shades and can have from as many as 19 spots to as few as none, so how can you tell an Asian ladybug when you see one? They all (mostly) have an “M” on the back of their heads.

And what to do if you find yourself face to face with one of these invaders? Well, don’t crush it! Asian ladybugs reportedly stain badly and give off a pungent odour similar to “rancid peanut butter”.

 

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