01 Sep, 2014
I am preparing another issue of the Extra Helping to go out this week. Woot! If you live/shop/love the Westboro/West Wellie part of Ottawa and you like things that sparkle you will not want to miss this one. You can read more about the Extra Helping and sign up right here.
I have this compulsion in which I need to DO STUFF; go places, see things, mark a special day with something memorable. And so when a special day comes up, like the last long weekend before the start of school, I can’t let it go by without Doing Something Awesome. And that, my friends, is how we decided to find a place for an aerial tour/zipline adventure nearish to Ottawa. There are several from which to choose:
- Camp Fortune’s Zip lines and Aerial Experience
- Arbraska – Laflèche Park (I wonder if this is the former Aventure Laflèche Cave and Aerial Park?)
- Logos Land Resort
- Mont Tremblant
- … and Chutes Coulogne, which is where we ended up on Our Day of Awesome.
We tried booking a reservation at the first two places and were unsuccessful, but that was totally our fault since we were trying to book our treetop adventure on the day of. (Note to self: zip lines and aerial adventures need to be booked ahead of time.) Mark called les Chutes, who have a smaller treetop obstacle course that includes a few short zips, AND they didn’t require a reservation. Phew.
Les Chutes Coulogne is about a two-hour drive from Ottawa and I’d forgotten, but it’s one of my favourite drives. We took one route to get there, another to come back (via Shawville) and it is so pretty… rolling hills and farmland and red barns and fields of sunflowers and clouds and peeks at valley below along a twisty two-lane highway. It’s like driving through a dream.
We were in too much of a hurry to pack a lunch so we stopped at a chip truck called Pique Patate in Mansfield-et-Pontefract before we arrived for our aerial tour. There is no shortage of casse croutes in Quebec, as many of you probably know, so we were relatively certain we’d find one along the way. This one was located at a busy intersection across from a cemetery, and lunch for four was only $25. I had a pogo with a side of yellow sweet mustard.
I’m glad we stopped because there is virtually no food to be had at Chutes Coulogne outside of chips and chocolate bars. But that is neither here nor there.
We arrived, paid up, and waited to be outfitted with our gear. While we waited we checked out a play area for the younger set. They had the kind of play structures that, frankly, should be installed in every playground everywhere:
After awhile we were collected by a nice young fellow and who set us up with our gear and gave us a lesson in climbing and zipping.
Sidebar for us vain types: harnesses and helmets are not meant to be stylish. I wore long shorts and wished I’d thought to wear my knee-length yoga pants and stretchy top as it would have been more comfortable.
There are a few different packages at Chutes Coulogne but we decided to go with the obstacle course. I wasn’t sure what to expect, because the lady in the office told us that it was a half hour experience, but it turned out to be a pretty good choice for our family. I also think it’d be a good one for people who’ve never done anything like this before.
The course consists of ten different challenges: ladders, suspended bridges, high wires, and a few zips. It starts easy and gradually gets more difficult. Some family members were a bit more confident than others, but we all did it, and lived to tell the tale.
I think it took us an hour to get through, and it was enough for me. I was pretty pooped at the end of it and even though a couple of the younger family members were keen to buy admission to the longer zip lines I couldn’t find it in me to do it. Next time for sure.
Instead we went explored les Chutes historical trail, which is included in the cost of admission. The area has a really interesting history, and I recommend visitors not skip it. This self-guided tour illustrates an important chapter in our Canadian history: the lumber trade. Men living in the wilderness, giving their blood, sweat, and tears, and more often than not, their lives, to make a few dollars in return for a commodity everyone needed.
There is an easy walking path with signs along the way, as well as some spectacular views of the waterfall, a man-made log chute, and a landscape forever changed by commercial interests: