About a week before our planned outings, students began to pile the snow for their Quinzhees. At first there was a limited amount of snow, but on that Friday, Mother Nature came through with a dumping of 30 cm. This created some fantastic looking mounts of snow that were dug out and carved to perfection in the days prior to the sleep out. You could feel the excitement building as the shelters were being finished and students were looking forward to sleeping in something that they worked so hard to build. The weather was also looking quite promising for both nights.
On the first evening, Wednesday, the weather was perfect. A clear sky with plenty of stars welcomed the smoke coming from the fires as students prepared their dinners. All was calm as everyone enjoyed the comfort of the flames and the company of their friends. It was a truly beautiful sight. That night the temperatures dropped to about -10 C, which would be perfect for a good nights' sleep. The question is, did everyone build a high quality Quinzhee to stay warm.
At breakfast the truth came out. Some had a great night, while others a little chilly. What was the difference? What could they have done differently? We will let the reflections tell the story.
The second night was a bit more of an unknown, as the weather forecasts were changing constantly. The only constant was that snow, rain and freezing rain were coming, but no one seemed to know the exact timing of it all. Our best guess was snow before 4 am, freezing rain until 7 am and then rain (and lots of it) the rest of the day. In the end we had a great evening around the campfires. The temperatures were quite mild and pleasant.
On a positive note, as far as the students believed, the busses were cancelled for the day and we could have a little more relaxed start to the day with a wonderful breakfast in the foods room. As I did my rounds to let students know that the school was open and that the busses had been cancelled, many asked if it ever rained or if it was actually raining. Ahhh, the wonders of a well build Quinzhee, nothing like a wonderful night's sleep in the snow of a Canadian winter.