Monday, March 5, 2012

PAD4O Gatineau Park Winter Overnight

What an amazing 2-day winter trip. This is the first time a grade 12 class has done this trip and it was with great success. The weather was excellent with plenty of snow for the second day. We spent the first day snowshoeing to Lac Phillipe Cabin and the 2nd day xc skiing, while carrying all of our gear. It was everything a grade 12 trip should be as we upped the ante.

The first day we started at the base of Lusk Falls and made our way to Lac Phillipe Cabin via snowshoes, with all of our gear (including skis) on our backs. For those that have climbed Lusk Falls in the summer, you know it is a gruelling 2.5 km climb where you ascend 300 m in the first 1.5 km. It didn't take long for the students to get really hot (as the layers of clothing came off) and realize they would be in for a tough day.

Once at the top, we met the xc ski trails and we used those to find an old backcountry trail (#10) to make our way over to the Lac Phillipe sector. Things started out great, as we made quick time getting to Lac Wadsworth, but from there on things got a lot more interesting and challenging. At the lake, we quickly found the signs for the old trail and it was obvious that no one had travelled this recently. There was also another sign towards Lac Lusk, which would have been a great option, as this was the most direct route we could take. Now, the trails in this area are old trails that are not maintained any more and we knew this going in, but we decided to cross the lake and see if we could find the trail to Lac Lusk. The lake was a bit slushy and after an unsuccessful attempt to find the trailhead, we went back to follow trail #10 as we had originally planned.

This is where the real adventure started. The trail was no where to be found. As soon as we started into the bush, there was no obvious path and we were forced to choose a route that would see us use the contours on the map and our compass. The next 3 km were very tough, as we struggled through hip high snow with lots of obstacles. We figured we were travelling at about 1.5 km/h and working very hard to do so. That said, the students did very well taking turns to get us to Lac Mousseau. From Lac Mousseau, we were able to use the trails to finish off the last 3 km to Lac Phillipe Cabin. We arrived at 4:30 pm and everyone was ready to put up their feet.

The cabin was a welcome retreat, as we had the stove roaring so we could melt snow for drinks and make our spaghetti dinner. The night was spent playing a game of liars dice and just hanging out and relaxing. To call 'the night' is a bit deceiving, as everyone was in bed by 9:00 pm. We woke up to about 5 cm of fresh powder, perfect for our xc ski out.

It was the perfect way to start the day, lots of snow and plenty more was falling. The groomers had already come by, but within 15 minutes, you couldn't tell because the tracks were covered with a fresh layer. It took a few minutes for students to get used to skiing with their packs on, but it didn't take long for them to really get moving. We covered 12 km in about 3 hours of skiing with a short lunch at Herridge Cabin. The best part of this day was the last 2 km with continual downhill right to parking lot #16.

I would like to say a quick thank you to the parents who drove us up and picked us up on both days. Especially with a different start and finish, your support was crucial. Also, a big congratulations to the students who took on this challenge with a tremendous positive attitude. You should be very proud of yourselves, as I am proud of you for showing the true spirit of CW Outdoor Ed.


Fitz said...

Going into this trip, I truly thought I was an overall physically fit person. That feeling was quickly diminished as I struggled to climb up that so called “hill” that seemed a lot more like a mountain to me. Having such a challenging start to our journey really made me question whether the trip was going to be enjoyable or not, and such thoughts would continue to occur throughout the long day ahead of us.
Despite the occasional negative feelings, I ended up having a really good time! Having an experience where you are completely out of your element, I have to say, was extremely refreshing for me. I learned a lot about myself and the others around me and we pushed ahead to get to the cabin some 10km away. I learned that a little beef jerkey is the perfect snack to keep you going on a long treck through deep snow, and that layers are essential as your body goes through so many different temperature phases depending on your work level. I learned that a positive attitude is the best way to confront a challenge, and it will make your experience a lot more fun. I learned that being a little competitive is a good thing when you’re trying to prove that you can lead a group, it makes you move faster and think harder! I learned that a compass and map are really important in case you get lost in the middle of Gatineau Park. I learned that it takes a lot of snow to produce a little water, and it takes a little fire to heat up a large room. I also learned I’m really bad at liars dice… Most importantly, however, I learned that the company you’re with makes all the difference , making this trip a great overall experience!
Looking back, I think that this was the most intense test of my abilities I’ve ever had to face. It’s not exactly the kind of activity I participate in on a regular basis. As a result, I felt an orverwhelming feeling of accomplishment (and relief!) as I rounded that last corner before the parking lot. If I could change anything from the trip, I would defnitely wear real winter boots for snowshoeing, as it proved to be a challenge to do so in cross-country ski boots. Also, I would potentially chose a different bunk bed that didn’t move and talk so much… Other than that, I believe it was a very successful trip, and I think that everyone pulled their weight and helped out where they could. As much as I was in pain during and after the trip, my experience left me excited to try something similar sometime soon!

Kris St Cyr said...

The first day of this two day XC skiing/snowshoeing trip to Gatineau Park, was the hardest and most physically demanding of my whole outdoor ed experience. Starting off was great! The weather was good and the forest had a good path. Besides all the uphill snowshoeing it was fun. The hard part began when we went off course to try and go for a straighter route toward our destination. Roughly twelve kilometers in total of snowshoeing (mostly bush-whacking) later, we arrived at the overnight cabin, exhausted.
Once the snowshoeing was over we all sat down around the amazing fire built by Mr. Brouwer and Stephanie and had some well needed dinner. Thanks again Brouwer for making it! The evening was filled by games, snacking, and just chill time because the day was long, everyone was tired, and we had another day of travel. Everyone was passed out by 9.
As morning came, we all woke up feeling the pain of yesterday's “adventure”. Despite that, we had a very good breakfast consisting of oatmeal and english muffins. No one was quite sure of what torture we were going to encounter today. Once we finished we got all packed up, figured out ways to attach the snowshoes to the packs, and changed into some lighter clothing for the day of skiing ahead of us. The skiing was the best part of the trip. Because we were on the ski path the whole time and it wasn't even close to the previous day's travels. You could almost feel the raising of people's spirits. About halfway to our final destination,we stopped at a very nice but awfully cold cabin for lunch and snacks. Wraps and a whole bunch of candy was on the menu. Once we all had wrap or two we decided to get going again just as the cabin started heating up.
The rest of the trip was a breeze and it almost flew by. The conditions were great and the downhills were even better. The trip was capped off by a massive downhill the I personally did twice, as so did a number of people. Although the first day could have been better the trip was really fun and I had a really good time and an even better experience.

BrennaMcWilliams said...

I truly loved going on the 2012 Gatineau wintercamp! The sights were so beautiful, and it was a great test of all our physical capabilities. Going into this trip i did not know what to expect from looking at the map and from what Mr.Brouwer told us. The first day consisted of snowshoeing 12km to the cabin we would be staying in. Our fist 2km were "uphill" although I felt like it was a mountain, starting with this challenge really opened up my eyes for the rest of the trip.
After we made it up the mountain, we hiked and bushwacked for about 10km. we decided to follow a main trail to another smaller trail that hadn't been used very often. We ended up getting a little lost in the thick bush, so we followed the map and compass to the lake we were headed for. The snow was very deep and some of us kept falling through, and the bush was very thick so all our skis would get stuck. After we got to the cabin we got wood, and started to boil snow for dinner. All the students rested while dinner was being made. We all enjoyed the spaghetti and meatballs, thanks to Mr.Brouwer.
The next day we got up, ate breakfast, and quickly packed, and were ready to start by 9:30. We skied for about 8km to another cabin where we ate our pita wraps for lunch. We skied another 2km where we reached a long downhill. This downhill was our last two kilometres, it felt great resting for our last bit of the trip.
This was a great experience that I shared with 7 other students. We were a small group but i definetly prefered having it the way we did. The weather was beautiful and everything went according to planned. One thing that i wished i had changed is instead of wearing ski boots with my snowshoes, I definetly would have changed into my normal boots. I got huge blisters, also Marlee and I had to tape our boots into the snowshoes, so they would'nt fall off.
I have done some pretty tough test of skill and physical ability but I was not prepared for the physical and mental strength that it takes to handle the distance stress and the pain of this trip. I loved going on this trip the people and the challenge made it so enjoyable! Other than the pain i endured during the trip, after I feklt very satisfied with myself for being able to accomplish that challenge, I would definetly do this trip again!!

Sasquatch Hunter said...

I had a lot of fun on XC skiing/snowshoeing trip but overall it took a lot out of me. When we first started I was a little angry because I lost my sunglasses as soon as I left the truck. When we started off snowshoeing it thought it was going to be an easy first day, I thought wrong.
After the 10 minutes of walking we come across,what was told to be a hill but what was really a mountain!! This supposed “hill” ended up being about 2 km long all uphill. When we finally got to the top we had a decision to make. Whether we should go the long but “safe” way or take the more direct route... We ended up coming up with a group decision of take the more direct route. So we start on our 10 km journey, the first couple of kilometers were pretty good considering the worst was behind us. We followed the trail until it turn into bush. That's when I think the trip got fun. From that point we went by instinct we followed the bottom of the ravine until we saw are next point to go to. And that whole time bush whacking we were about waist deep in snow. Once we finally got to the cabin we were all very tired and sore. We were very lucky to have Mr. Brouwer cook dinner for us that nite. We had spaghetti and meatballs, once all the food and dishes were done. We all started to pass out one by one. The next morning started early, by 9:30 we were out and skiing. The first 8 km went by really fast, I thought id have a lot more trouble skiing but the conditions where great and we made great time to the lunch cabin. For lunch we had simple wraps and I had cold soup. I had so much trouble trying to warm my soup up over the wood stove, I ended up eating it cold. After lunch we skied for another 2 km till we reached a big downhill. It was nice being able to relax on the last leg of the trip.

This trip pushed a lot of people and me to a limit I haven't been before. I enjoyed being pushed out of my comfort zone. It gets you ready for any situations that might push you even harder. This is something id look at doing again in the future.

Forrest said...

As we approached the "hill" (more like a mountain!) which was our starting point, I got the feeling that this would be a challenging but rewarding trip.
It turns out I was right! We trekked pretty much straight up for 2 km, when we finally reached the top we had a nice short trek on a groomed path before we had to take a snow filled path. Upon arriving at the first lake we came to discover that the ice wasn't fully melted as our slush covered snowshoes soon discovered. At the beginning of the path off of the lack we took a short break for lunch. Shortly after walking down the path we discovered that is wasn't really a path and we ended up bushwhacking for what felt like countless Kilometers. We finally arrived at our cabin after about 7 hours of snowshoeing. The next morning we had a very enjoyably x-country skiing trip with some light snowfall.
This trip was personnel one of my favorite outdoor experiences I have ever had, with good company and a tough trek to bring us together. It was fantastic.