How to start? I was looking at the storm that Jamesdeluxe got in his Quebec-Charlevoix safari. I was looking into making it East, Charlevoix (Mont Edouard) or the Gaspe. The storm hit earlier than I anticipated plus I had taken one week off work for March Break in Vermont with family. Heard that Lucky was heading to Grand Fonds, but I was really curious about Mont Edouard and it had been on THE list for a while. Mont Edouard is about 9 hours from Ottawa, so I wasn't going to burn myself if I was solo, especially that I was looking forward into heading back to VT for Roll-Back-the-Clock at MRG on April 1st and remain in VT until the end of the Easter weekend. However plans can always change and you can never take anything for granted.
Morgane was looking forward to go back to Tremblant, it had been 2 years since her (and my) last visit. My mom had been in town for a few days and she was leaving for a family get-together at her brother's land in Mont Laurier (180 km north from Ottawa) and 100km (nw from Tremblant). We had a late start, she was leaving for her brother and I was leaving for Tremblant. Our drive was pretty different with all changed on Highway 323 and the Autoroute 50 extending further east (eventually is supposed to join the eastern part of it near the abandoned 'new' Montreal airport in Mirabel. We exited the Autoroute in Thurso and passed in-front of the Guy Lafleur Arena. This is a papermill town which is on life support, pretty sad.
Virtually no snow in the Laurentians, man this is really a terrible snow year. I was hearing on the Radio that the snowy World Capital (ie. Ottawa) had received 0cm of snow in March and forecast is 27c for Easter weekend. Edelweiss and Vorlage shutdown operations before the last weekend of March. Pathetic!!!
At the time we arrived at the hill, I preferred heading to the North side to park. Hours were from 8:30am to 4pm, however with the time change, surfaces would remain pretty hard all morning. Started skiing at 11am and headed to the summit via the Duncan Express to ski on the South side. Started with the black Taschereau run, issssshhhhhh!!!!! A ice rink without any loose granular on the side. Morgane mentioned that we should have brought our ice skates. At the bottom of that run, I meet up with a co-worker and fellow Master racer which we ended skiing with most of the day. Morgane wanted to ski all the way to the bottom, pretty frozen conditions all the way down. The co-worker mentioned that my daughter skied fast like her dad.
He mentioned the snow was better on Devil River on the North side, however Morgane wanted to continue skiing on the steep (icy) south side slope like Kadahar and wanted to repeat the icerink experience on Taschereau. If you didn't have any shape edges or didn't know how to use them, this run would have been a nightmare in trying to make turns. On that last run we only skied the upper part and heading back to the summit and the Versant Soleil (newest side of the mountain for now maybe 10 years) where the runs are more south oriented. The snow was definitely more carvable here. The bottom of this side now has some development plus a casino and gondola connecting it to the Village on the South Side.
Also skied a few runs on the North side, Duncan, Devil River, Geant...great bluebird day. We caught the last chair and Morgane wanted to see where the Half-pipe was (it used to be on Rope-Tow next to the Lowell Thomas Triple), no sure if it was still there, but that run was now closed and the only option on that side of the North side were the easier runs like Beauchemin. I decided to asked Morgane if she wanted to ski a real old trail and I skied with my mom as a kid. It was Andy, Moe & Axel, a long narrow (real narrow on the Tremblant scale of things) where the surface was good. It's true that steep, snowmaking, overgroomed surfaces on a cold Spring day, generally are pretty brutal. I took a few pictures, one of the old rundown Devil River Lodge that served as lodging back in the 50s and 60s I believe.
Heading back to the Village on the South side as Morgane asked me for a Beaver Tail at lunch and I said it would take too much time on a short ski day. Morgane noticed the gondola was still running over the hill.
Wait a minute, that isn't the gondola to the summit, but the one that connects the village to the Soleil side (and the casino). We went to ride the gondola and looked at everything at what Tremblant had become. Urbanization of a country landscape, in the village, across the mountains and lakes. Very far from Joe Ryan vision of a rural Quebec setting with small cottage and a copy of an old church from l'île d'Orléans. The new Tremblant village architecture is mirror at old Quebec City. L'île d'Orléans close by to Quebec City is protected from development, not Tremblant. As we are about to get back on the Gondola to head to the Village, we noticed 3 deers next to us. We are invading their habitat. Versant Soleil and many of surrounding areas where wilderness areas, a bit less know a days.
As we drove back toward Ottawa, we passed the Grand Lodge on Lac Ouimet, place of the now defunct Villa Bellevue. A hotel that had a ski school in which Ernie MCCulloch, Bob Richardson and my dad had been directors in the 50s. And then had been ski near to the lost Gray Rocks icon. The sign on the other side has had it's first 'R' removed, the only thing renaming are the slopes and the shutdown landmark hotel. The quad was removed and the oldest first were dismantled. Is there another real estate development planned on he very slopes and on the site of the hotel on the shores of Lac Ouimet? One year ago, was it's last weekend in operation. Another long history had ended.
My dad was a ski instructor at these areas wouldn't recognized the place. My mom, that I thought me to ski, and I skied mainly here in the 70s and early 80s, Mont Tremblant Lodge (as the resort was named then) is long gone. I arrived in Ottawa at 8:30pm, my wife was worried and had terrible news. My mom had just been hospitalized in Mont Laurier, we left for Mont Laurier as fast as we could. Drove through the rain then snow. Arrived at the hospital at midnight in the snow and took a hotel next to the hospital. Walk in the snow the next morning, my mom would have loved it. Stayed at the Hospital until early morning yesterday. My mother was still active, she climbed up the mountain (500ft vert) on her brother's land twice on Sunday. She didn't alpine ski anymore, but she still cross-country skis played golf. Although she didn't start skiing until she was 18, she thought skiing too many of brothers and sisters. Her dad worked in the forest and groomed the slopes of Mont Tremblant Lodge with snowshoes in the 40s. My mom was part of this big French-Canadians family with 18 kids, many of which came to the Hospital.I was supposed to be in Vermont today, however now I need to drive to Montreal.
So this is probably the last TR or significant contribution in a post you'll get from me a while. Enjoy the Spring, record temps forecast here. I might get away for 1 day of turns here and there. Not for the streak, but more to get away from what I have to deal with right now. Not easy. Sorry for a long emotional TR, but I really needed to write something for my friends here and elsewhere.
You never know what life has in store for you, so live life now.