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.