My rather enigmatically-named friend Ode invited me to join her and some friends for an overnight trip to the Lusk Cabin in Gatineau Park last Wednesday, and my girlfriend Erica and I quickly accepted! The weather has been perfect with plenty of small snowfalls and, after my December “ski-in” trip to the Ohimisi yurt became more of a “trudge-in” trip, I’ve been eager for that perfect cross country ski trip the Gatineau hills so often provides.
Compared to my standard 2-night default, this trip was going to be a breeze for prep. Whereas I’d normally have to drag a sled in with a few days’ food, this time everything fit nicely in our packs, and I prepared some chicken Korma and scrambled eggs we left so we could just heat it up. Lusk Cabin has a decent helping pots and pans (so I only brought a minimal kitchen) but only a wood stove for cooking, so getting any complicated food prep out of the way beforehand is helpful. I also brought my little backpacking stove for rice and quick coffee.
Lusk Cabin sits right on the northwest shore of Lusk Lake, about a 6k ski from the parking lot at Lac Philippe; first along the main trail #50, and then splitting off at about 3k to the narrower and cozier trail #54 until the cabin. We struck gold with the weather: about -7 and sunny when we hit the trail at 2pm with packs on our backs. The forests were absolutely full of snow, each arching branch with a few inches of snow on top, chunks of it falling off and dissolving back into powder and twirling around in the wind… it was b e a u t i f u l.
We arrived at the cabin around 4pm to find two repair guys packing up their tools and on their way out, so I set about getting the wood stove started as we waited for Ode, Alan and Kristelle – our other cabin mates – to arrive. They had opted for snowshoes, which is tricky for Lusk Cabin, and we basically left them at the parking lot. I’m not entirely sure how they came to arrive at the cabin, but they did, and only about 45 minutes after us.
The cabin warmed up nicely with the fire raging, all the bodies, sweaty clothes on the line and food cooking on the stovetop, as we enjoyed a few celebratory broths, discovered Jungle Speed, and exchanged stories around the candle-lit cabin until long past dark.
To make the most of our short stay, Erica, Ode and I took the snowshoes out on the frozen and snow-covered Lusk Lake – two feet of perfectly smooth, white snow sprawling out from the foot of the cabin was too much to resist; but our adventure only lasted as long as the last few sips from our whiskey 🙂
The next morning we were blessed by the weather gods again: still sunny, though a good 10 degrees cooler. We all took our time getting breakfasts going over coffee and conversation, and by about 10 o’clock we had started packing our gear up for the trek home.
And, almost as quickly as we’d come, Erica and I left our snowshoe-laden friend behind and started back down 54 towards home. The ski back was even more magic than the ski out – mostly because of the much more favourable downhill-to-uphill ratio in this reverse direction! The ski back was about half the ski in (about an hour) and, combined with the fun from the night before, left us feeling totally satiated and refreshed.
Two great days of skiing and one night of friends around a fire – this one worked out perfectly!