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My introduction to nordic skiing came when I was almost 40 years old. I pictured myself peacefully shuffling through the woods on skis and never considered wearing lycra. I was not interested in ski racing and I knew that one pair of all-purpose classic skis was all I would ever need. Well! It didn't quite turn out as expected.

I was soon lured away from Southern Ontario (where Winter is only 8 weeks long) to Ottawa, and found myself taking up running, swimming and cycling during the "off season". I started to refer to exhausting hills by affectionate names such as "Penguin". To be ready for that first snowfull I even began to engage in bizarre, "cult" activities such as ski-walking and roller skiing. Totally addicted!

With Gatineau Park at Ottawa's doorstep, the National Capital Region is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. While it's easy to find idyllic Winter scenery and wildlife, there are also very active ski clubs, many colourful local races and a myriad of fascinating characters on skis. Musicians have strange work hours and so I am free to indulge my addiction and to ski, to quote Jackrabbit Johannsen, almost "every day there is snow". The camera usually tags along. The challenge is to get it out of the bag and fired up quickly enough to catch the action without freezing to death or sacrificing a good ski. During the "off season" the camera is let loose to capture literally anything in its path. These photos might even be remotely related to skiing: the teams, outdoor exercise, birds, insects, wildlife, scenery and the passing of the dryland season.

I hope the photos will give you a glimpse into the vibrant ski life in Ottawa-Gatineau. If you ski, run, hike, swim or cycle in Gatineau Park, check back now and then. You may see yourself!

Jo-Ann Holden