Thursday, March 21, 2013

PAD4O Gatineau Park Winter Overnight

The week before March break, the grade 12's headed for a 2-day trip to Lac Phillipe Cabin in Gatineau Park. The weather was perfect for our two-day adventure of xc skiing and snowshoeing.

We started our trip on xc skis at P. 17 near Wakefield, with all of our gear on our back. We had an 8 km ski to the Cabin, which was quite interesting, as the weight of the packs played havoc with our balance. This was especially visible where there were no tracks.

All in all, we made great time and arrived at the cabin shortly after lunch. This was plenty of time for the students to ensure they could follow through on the deal they made. The deal: the plan was for us to snowshoe part of the trip in with all of our gear, but the students recognized that skiing would be faster and easier, so they made a deal. The deal was that once we had settled at the cabin, they would navigate me up the two peaks (near the cabin) and the little lake that separated them via snowshoe. A true highlight of the trip, especially the fun downhill slides.

The evening was spent playing some games around candle light and eating spaghetti dinner with garlic bread and ceaser salad, as well as, a few extra snacks (actually, more than a few).
The next day was a 13 km xc ski out to Parking lot #16, which the group did extremely well and fast. A little lunch stop at Herridge Cabin and a great final descent into the parking lot made for a fantastic trip.


Ryder said...

Overnight Gatineau Park Ski/Snowshoe Trip Reflection:

This having been the 3rd year I have taken outdoor ed so far, I was really looking forward to being in the grade 12 course and being able to do this overnight trip. I was also excited because I have never been snowshoeing and was thrilled for this to be my first time.

We started off the day at parking lot #17. While Mr. Brouwer was setting up his shuttle for the next day, most of us strapped on our skis and bags and practiced what it would be like to skate ski with packs. At that moment, I knew I was going to be having some trouble throughout these next 2 days. The first days 8 km ski went by painfully slow due to my constant breaking to stretch my back. You cannot imagine how happy I got every time I saw a downhill slope coming up. With some support from fellow classmates, perfect weather, we made it to our cabin just after lunch and I couldn’t have been happier. Being able to put away the skis, take off the pack and lie on a bed make the ski in so worth it.

After we all had a replenishing break, we commenced what I believed to be the best part of the trip. Instead of having to snowshoe on our way into the camp, my fellow classmates and Mr. Brouwer made a deal in which we would ski to the cabin, drop our stuff and then we would have to navigate him to the peak of 2 mountains and get him to see the lake that separated the mountains. The snowshoe brought step slopes, deep snow and beautiful views. We had decided that the best way to get down from the tops of the mountains was to slide down on your butt and that was a blast! When we got back to the cabin during the sunset, we enjoyed a Caesar salad appetizer, spaghetti with sausage entrée and a side of garlic bread. Let’s just say no one was left hungry. That evening the group gathered to play some games around the table and enjoyed some sugar filled treats. When it was time for lights out, the cabin was very warm due to the constant flame of the wood stove and many either had trouble sleeping due to the extreme heat on the top bunks or due to the voice of one of the members who the sugar had apparently not worn off of yet.

The next morning, we ate pancakes, bacon and berries, packed our stuff and were out the door. That day’s 13 km ski seemed to be easier than the previous days 8 km, but was still difficult. Each uphill was accompanied with sighs and each downhill brought a glimmer of hope. The days had perfect weather and snow conditions in common and we made it to the lunch cabin in a breeze. After the lunch break all we had was a 3 km ski and then 2 km of just downhill to the end at parking lot #16.

The Gatineau Park overnight cross-country ski and snowshoe trip was in my eyes difficult but was so worth it and so much fun! I have so many good memories from that trip and I would surely do it again. It taught me to be prepared but still to pack lightly, that more food was better than too little, especially in a big group and that the wilderness has this ability to bring people together and have an amazing time no matter what.

Jacob said...

The first day of the trip was great. It took some time to get used to the weight and bulk of the packs, but the conditions were perfect. It was warm enough that skiing with only a sweater or t-shirt on wasn’t too cold, but cold enough that the snow stayed frozen and didn’t soak everything. And with fresh snow, it would be hard to get any better weather for skiing, snowshoeing, and exploring. When we stopped for lunch, I realized that I had forgotten a crucial piece of equipment: my water bottle. Thankfully, the snow was clean, but it annoyed me to no end during the trip that I had just left it sitting on my kitchen counter at home.

When I arrived at the last intersection before the cabin, I was told that the cabin was just a few hundred meters along the trail. Eager to get there, drop my pack and prepare some hot chocolate, I hustled along the trail. But when I got to the junction with signs pointing everywhere, the sign for our cabin wasn’t on the post. This led me to think that the cabin just behind a set of trees was ours. However, that wasn’t the case. Nor was it along the other trail that branched off at the signpost. The big sign with the picture of a cabin led me to think that our cabin HAD to be the one I had visited earlier, but hadn’t entered because the skis outside didn’t look familiar. So I skied back to the cabin, and confirmed that those were definitely NOT my classmates inside. I then started to ski back, hoping to find out if I had gone too far or maybe not far enough, and had missed meeting other classmates when I went on a detour. One hundred metres later, I met up with the group and saw that I had missed the wide open trail with the sign that lead right to our cabin. After that bit of exploring, I was ready to sit down, unpack, and warm up with some well-earned hot chocolate.

Before dinner, we went for an improvised hike up two nearby hills with our snowshoes on. We got up to the top of the first hill, and then figured out on the way down that snowshoes, like much equipment designed for use in the outdoors, had another, if unintentional, use. Sledding down the first hill was fast, fun, and completely uncontrollable. After tangling myself around a tree and barely holding on to it and my classmate’s leg with my foot, I managed to make it to the bottom with only a massive smile to show for it. Eager to go down the second hill in the same fashion, I couldn’t wait to get to the top. When we arrived, the sun was setting, making for some beautiful photographs. I snapped several good ones, and then hurried to where we were making our way down. This time, it was a much steeper descent. This meant that instead of one long, uncontrollable slide down, I had to make many shorter, but faster slides. The conveniently placed trees gave me something to slide into to slow my rapid slide, and at one point prevent me from flying over a one-metre drop at what felt like Mach 1. After our excursion, we had worked up an appetite. Dinner was surprisingly delicious, and everything was tasty, filling, and warm. The rest of the evening was spent relaxing, stoking the fire, and melting snow for water.

On the morning of the second day, we woke up to realize that the cabin was cold because a window had been wide open all night. Oh well. Breakfast was good, although I learned that bacon takes forever to make. Pancakes, on the other hand, are fast and tasty. Next time, I’ll pass on the bacon and go straight to the oatmeal, berries, pancakes and hot chocolate or tea. We skied for a longer distance on the second day than we did on the first day, although it felt to me like it was the opposite. Time and distance seemed to fly by, and in no time at all we were at another cabin eating lunch. There was nothing fancy about this meal, it was just an excuse to grab a bite to eat, sit down, and watch the chickadees and red squirrels at the bird feeder. After lunch, we skied along until we came to the final leg of our trip. The final 2 km downhill was fast and fun, and before I knew it, we had reached the end of our trip.

Devon Morton said...

Being the kind of person who likes to push my own physical limits, I was really looking forward to my first trip on XC skis.
The first stage of the trip was packing our bags. We loaded up mostly on food since it was only a one night trip, which made for a delicious supper. Although it was one of the heavier things I brought, I was also glad to feel the weight of over 2 litres of water in my pack, because as the first day progressed and my pack gradually got lighter and lighter, those 4 bottles kept me (and others) well hydrated for our 13km trek into Lac Philipe cabin.
We started the day by getting dropped off at P16, 13km from Lac Philipe Cabin. We unloaded the vehicles then strapped on our skis to get a little practice before Brouwer got back. As soon as I threw my pack over my shoulders I knew we were in for totally new skiing experience. I started going back and forth up the trail and quickly found that every little movement caused my pack to shift, and throwing me all over the place.
Soon we were ready to go and started to make our way up the trail. We skied for a while then took a break, then skied a bit farther and stopped again to make sure everyone stayed close together. When we reached halfway and stopped for the others to catch up, those of us in the lead had decided we didn't really want to snowshoe with our packs and skis on our back, so we struck a deal. We would go straight to the cabin on skis, then leave our gear and guide Mr. Brouwer to the top of two mountains so that he could see the lake in between them.
We thought we'd gotten off easy, but as soon as we started to make our way up those hills we realised we were in for a real climb. It was a long tiring process, but fun nonetheless. Finally we reached the summit, and sank to our knees in victory as we looked out at the amazing view of the park. But then we realised the second part of the deal... There was another hill! Not to worry, Ryder had come prepared with a rather large bag of salt and sugar (he called it trail mix), and I had a few chocolate bars, so we were soon ready to go again and made our way down the valley and up the next hill. We arrived just in time to watch the sun begin to set, and then made our way slipping and sliding down to the bottom of the hill. At first we tried to walk down but soon found it was futile and resorted to sitting on the back of our snowshoes and sliding to the bottom.
We were soon back at camp and boy were we hungry. We split into groups and started cooking, soon we had a feast of spaghetti, sausage, garlic bread and salad and ate till we could eat no more. Then the liars dice were brought out and we spent the evening playing games and talking by candlelight. As we headed it bed it was extremely warm, so the two back windows were open, which although a good idea at the time, because they weren't closed at night made for a very cold morning when the fire went out.
That problem was soon resolved as I went to split more wood and soon the fire was roaring again and we made a delicious breakfast of bacon, oatmeal and pancakes with berries. We then washed the dishes, swept the floors, packed and headed out to make our way back.
The trip out seemed to go much faster than the one coming in and we soon reached a day cabin where we stopped for lunch. Although we had two invalids (Mr. Brouwer sick, and Kijel's Asthma) everyone made sure to pick up the extra weight and we all shared the load on the way back, and we were soon on the home stretch. Only 2km left to go, and the part we'd all been waiting for, it was all downhill from here. Although we'd had lots of practice going downhill without packs, it was a much different story with them, and this was the final test. As we started to make our way down it turned out to not be too fast, so everyone made it to the bottom and we waited for our rides to come get us.
This was my first trip in outdoor ed, and I'm definitely glad that I took the course. It was a very fun and challenging time, and I learned a lot.