The Lac-Poisson trail, 40 years later
Confession: I’ve lived full-time in Mont-Tremblant for close to three years, and my infatuation for cross-country skiing has already come within a hair’s-breadth of a compulsion. I spend my days with skis on my feet, but I hadn’t skied in the Park National du Mont-Tremblant for almost 40 years!
Last month, to clear my record with a competent companion and to shield myself from looming disgrace, I invited my friend Jean-Guy to come out with me. He has spent the past two decades on the shores of lac Mercier, skis like a jackrabbit in classic style (not skating or touring) – choose your weapon – and had never skied the park’s trails. That’s even worse than me, right?
For this rediscovery, I decided to link up with the Lac-Poisson trail, which regulars consider to be the jewel of the park in terms of classic cross-country skiing. One fairly harsh winter weekend in 1981 I had traveled on my walnut Trysil Knut Norwegian skis, lacking camber and carefully waxed, to the La Perdrière hut where my buddies and I spent the night.
It was a cool -17 °C when jackrabbit Jean-Guy and I headed out for Lac-Poisson, 2020 version. The cold made the snow a bit rough – the elegant alternating step with glide would be used some other time – but the sun was shining, the wind had (happily) stopped and we were alone in the world, or close to.
From the Discovery Centre, a green warmup trail took us quickly toward the Poète (blue) which runs for a few kilometres to Le Campe hut. (And yes, it’s spelled with an “e”.)
From there, the Lac-Poisson trail (black) climbs the side of the hill with rectilinear obstinacy, then coils through a mounting little valley toward lac Poisson (a small lake), where La Perdrière hut sits on the shore.
It is not warm. We make a lively fire in the slow-burning stove but the temperature in the hut doesn’t rise by even one degree.
When we leave 15-20 minutes later, the clothes we’d put out to dry are frozen, the mercury seems to be blocked at -17 °C outside and the beginning stiffness generated by all the metres we had climbed in herringbone step reminds me of my age and my mortality….
And the climb continues. That’s okay, it warms you up and lac Poisson awaits us around the next turn. Winter has frozen the passage of time, light is filtering through a mesh of clouds that mean snow, and all is silence.
A few moment later, back from its break, the wind picks up and we are forced to herringbone to the top of the trail. The reward: two to three kilometres of descent on snow that forgives our small steering errors and deposits us just a few strides from the Discovery Centre. Joy and gratitude.
And the thought springs to mind, as it does after every outing on the boards in the winter forest. Why in earth do I not manage to find the time to cross-country ski more often?
Alain Bisson47 Posts
Journaliste depuis plus de 30 ans, Alain Bisson a débuté sa carrière au Journal de Montréal à titre de journaliste à l'économie. Au cours des dernières années, Alain fut également directeur du pupitre et directeur des contenus week-end à La Presse. / A journalist for more than 30 years, Alain Bisson began his career at the Journal de Montreal as a journalist covering economics. In recent years, Alain was also weekend content director and bureau chief for La Presse.