We are up at the Couples Resort up in Whitney Ontario (on highway 60 at the south east board of Algonquin park).
This is actually our third time at the Couples Resort, previously known as the Bear Trail. We like to venture up here in the winter and spend a week cross country skiing. The resort is far from roughing it. Every room has a jacuzzi tub, and included with your room is a gourmet 4-course dinner and breakfast. In the summer, it is expensive, but in the winter they have week-day 50% off rates that make it all pretty reasonable.
This year we chose to say in a Spa Villa. In the past, we have stayed in a Bridle Suite and a smaller room. We found the smaller room to be too small. It appears that we were not the only ones, as they don't have those as rooms anymore. Our experience there was that the extra $200 was worth it for the larger room (that is, $200 for 5 nights). The Spa Villa is huge in comparison to the suites. It has a bonus funky steam shower with two stations, so you can shower together without getting cold!
We arrived early today, at about 1:30 pm. That meant that we had lots of time for a ski before our room was ready.
We strapped on our skate skis and headed out across the lake. The snow was a little soft and the grooming was rather sparse compared to Gatineau park. We were reminded just how spoiled we are at home. The track was slow but we were delighted to discover that the last two years of lessons had made a huge difference. Last time we were skate skiing here, we struggled to ski 1 or 2 km. Today, we skied just under 6km without much struggle.
Our total for today was 5.86 km in 1h 12 min. That doesn't sound great, but 1km of it was over a classic trail that involved a fair bit of hill climbing. The narrow trail made it a challenge.
We found ourselves skiing across the lake and into the trail system by memory. We realized after we got across the lake that we forgot to pick up a trail map (oops). We stuck to familiar areas, specially since we had our skate skis on. They just aren't as versatile as classic skis.
Entering the classic trail posed a challenged, but once we were in up in the hills, surrounded by nature it was pure bliss. That is pure bliss and a fair bit of laughing at what we got ourselves into. I took a picture with my cell phone camera. Scott was an amazing site of bright orange in a field of dark green and gray. The wilderness looks black and white with it lack of colour, so Scott's jacket made him stand out like the colourized red rose in one of those artistic photos.
Skate skis are quite useless on a purely classic trail. You are limited to doing the haring bone to climb hills and double polling when it is anything close to flat.
Once we escaped from the trail, we skied along a rail line trestle for a bit. It as just wide enough to allow us to get reasonable glide. When the trestle trail ended, we headed back out over the lake. This was an interested experience. We found ourselves skate skiing over ungroomed powder across the lake. I was surprised at how easy it was to get pretty reasonable glide. I expected it to be much more work.
We eventually found our way back to the ski-do trail and then to the groomed trail. It was a wonderful day for a ski.