Wednesday, March 19, 2014

PAD4O Gatineau Winter Overnight

This has to be one of my favourite trips that we do in all of outdoor ed, two amazing days of winter activities and an overnight in one of Gatineau Parks' wonderful cabins. This year we got to stay in Brown Cabin, the largest and most luxurious, even though the number of students participating was much less then originally planned.

The students started right at the beginning of the semester to prep and get ready for the trip. In grade 12, it is the expectation that students complete all parts of this process, as well as, the execution of the trip itself. A scary thought and process for a teacher, to give the students full control, as there is always something that is either forgotten or not planned for. This trip was no different, but ... I will let the students explain in their reflections.

The first day we planned to snowshoe from P. 15 to Brown Cabin. About a 6 - 8 km trek, depending upon the route that we would choose. The students had planned a route that would us climb up a ridge early to get into the woods, it promised to be a windy day, then once we got close, we would abandon the trail and cut across a couple of lakes to the cabin. This was to avoid a very large climb at the end of the day. The weather was exactly as predicted, gorgeous while in the trees, but brutal while crossing the lake. All in all, a pretty successful first day.

Brown Cabin was way more luxurious then when I had stayed there about 10 years ago. Equipped with a solar panel and propane tanks, it came with modern luxuries such as lights and a stove for cooking. We did still heat the cabin with a wood stove, although the temperature was also regulated by some electric heaters. This ensured that at night the cabin never got too cold and being able to cook on a regular stove never got the cabin to overheat. The cabin had a fantastic layout, with bunk beds on one side of the cabin and a large sitting area with tables, perfect for eating and playing games.

The weather was predicted to be extremely cold that night and the next day, which was true, as the sky cleared in the evening and the night became crisp. This also meant an amazing display of stars as we went to bed. The next morning it was cold, especially where there was a little bit of wind, but the sky was a perfect blue and the sun was gorgeous. We found as soon as we started snowshoeing towards P. 17, that this was going to be an amazing day.

At P. 17, we dropped our snowshoes and gear in exchange for our XC skis. Our final leg of this trip would be a 15 km ski to P. 16. The route was the most challenging of our trip, with a few very large uphills. The trail did not disappoint, there were a few very big climbs, but also some great downhills. This with a fresh layer of snow and little to no gear on our backs was the perfect way to spend a day. The group moved very efficiently all day and with a short stop at Herridge Cabin for a yummy lunch, we finished of a great trip with a nice 2 km downhill to the parking lot.


LucasBullen said...

On a list of all the trips I have taken with or without Outdoor Ed, this is trip is at the top. It wasn’t without flaws, but these flaws only added to the story and excitement in the end. With the students having full control over the planning of the trip we were able to plan it around us. The original plan was to take an 8km from P.15 to Brown Cabin stopping at a rest stop for lunch. Once we began the journey many things became apparent to us: packs are heavy, hills are difficult, and the map has changed, all resulting in a change of plans. We were unable to stop and have a hot lunch because the rest stop had been moved and we took a short cut across two lakes to avoid a large climb at the end of the trek.
During the first day I had very bad luck with equipment. The snowshoes that I had taken were never tested and the buckles were faulty resulting in them coming off my feet every five minutes. Having never been available for snowshoeing during class because of the winter camp preparations, I never had time to test which boots were good for snowshoeing. This resulted in very large blisters on my heels because the boots I brought were too large. Adding insult to injury, during a large downhill my pole snapped against a root leaving me with only one pole for the following day’s ski out. This resulted in quite the hit to my moral but once arriving at the camp and getting settled I was back. Having access to the full kitchen really made meals a breeze and unlike last years trip food was in plenty and we were all full after every meal. Something I learned while preparing the meals was just how much snow is required to melt to make water, we constantly had buckets melting to keep up with demand.
Once at the cabin, it was discovered that one of the students forgot to pack their ski boots for the next day. Luckily Mr. Brouwer was able to ski to the parking lot and go home along with giant tiger to pick up a pair of boots, and poles for myself along with goodies to play liars dice; a fun game we played that night. We passed the time by going for a ski during which we found out that one of the bindings was broken, this was quickly solved, but I was glad we found out this problem before heading out the next day.
The ski was by far my favourite part of the trip. It was very hilly, but for every time we had to go up, we were able to enjoy a nice downhill. I was tasked with caring the sole pack filled with equipment and food. It wasn’t difficult because I am an experienced skier, and I had access to water the entire trip. Overall the trip went quite well, I learned the importance of having back up plans and testing your gear, along with just how fast your body temperature can change while skiing. In the end I enjoyed myself and had a great time. 10/10.

sam rees said...

It is now my third year taking Outdoor Ed and I have to say I couldn’t think of any other trip that tops this one. The weather was perfect, groomed ski trails and beautiful scenery from start to finish. We did run into minor speed bumps throughout the way but nothing too drastic. Before leaving for this trip I didn’t really know what to expect the landscape and climate or any other environmental factors would have on us, so I made sure to over pack. I only carried my belongings in my pack as another student carried our food because he had more room. We were constantly moving and once we got in the trees you could notice your heart rate going up and everyone heating up quickly. Around ten minutes being in the warmth of the thick bush we started taking off layers and taking short breathers.
We snow shoed eight and a half kilometers to our cabin on the first day and considering that is a pretty nice distance I think our two and a half hour hike was pretty quick. I made sure to grab the bigger snowshoes before leaving for this trip so it was easier to trek through the deeper snow and maneuver up and down steep hills. The last 20 minutes or so of our snow shoe to the cabin we walked over a large frozen lake. So as you could imagine, it got pretty windy once walking over the middle. Despite the cold wind it was pretty awesome being able to just merge from this massive forest, to this huge open lake and being able to just keep walking straight through it. We could see the cabin from where we were standing around 300 yards away. At that point I was exhausted from all the snow shoeing and every time I looked up the cabin was just teasing me.. so close, but yet so far.. We finally made it to this little comfortable cabin with multiple beds and a woodstove alone with a kitchen and wood shed for the stove. We took our biggest pots and boiled our water to keep hydrated. We got many little sticks and pebbles in your water but after that hike, anything sounded nice. As we were just getting settled my friend realized he had forgotten his ski boots. Mr. Brouwer, being the insane outdoorsman that he is, skied to his home in Chelsea and got some old ski boots and extra poles. We found a journal on top of the top of the fridge that had little entries from past hikers visiting the cabin as well explaining how their trip went and how amazing Gatineau Park is. I will never forget the man in the red jacket. We had a great pasta dinner with garlic bread and Caesar salad. I like to think of myself as the master chef, but most students aren’t backing me up on that one.
The next day came and we had a fifteen kilometer ski ahead of us and I was not looking forward to that. Yes sking is a great time and workout but half way through I was debating getting airlifted out of that place and just getting home. We stopped for lunch at a little cabin and had some chicken wraps and warmed up. We finally made it to the final two km. of the ski and we were told it was all downhill from there. The feeling I got once I made it to the final parking lot was unreal. Not because it was long and hard work, but because it was an accomplishment and that is the main reason this trip was so amazing.
I give the trip a solid nine out of ten as it was a beautiful and fun trip for everyone despite the minor mistakes.

Mal Champagne said...

I felt prepared for the trip. We pulled in that morning and the sky's were overcast but friendly and set out, we were under the impression that the skis would be in the parking lot we hiked out to the next day and that we wouldn't have to carry them, but that wasn't the case. I think that's why the first snowshoe in was so hard; I had mentally prepared to be carrying just the packs but then when the ski's were added on it just seemed like more to carry, and it definitely made it more awkward. But the packs have always been heavy and awkward so all that it took was to just keep going, complaining would not take the skis off or lighten the load.
Around noon-ish we came up to the edge of a lake that should've had a campfire place at it that we wanted to have lunch at, upon arrival the campfire circle or whatever it was, was not there. We decided to snack and hold off on lunch intil we got to Brown and crossed the lakes (instead of climbing a cliff and going the long way around). Everyone got there fine despite the equipment failure that slowed some down and exhaustion and aches on my part that made me want to stop halfway across the lake. Tired and hungry we piled in the cabin, put our stuff away and unpacked the food and got to making lunch and boiling snow for water. Once everyone was settled in chatting by the fire and filling their bellies the morning snowshoe didn't seem bad at all. To our surprise Brown cabin was fully equipped with everything but running water. Knowing that now that could've cut back on a lot of equipment weight in the packs. The next thing to do was find out what we were missing when Mr. Brouwer went to town to pick stuff up. We discovered we had no ketchup and were missing the bacon for breakfast food-wise and a few others had forgotten or broken equipment as well, so he set off and we set in for free time. I had every intention to go snowshoeing while others went skiing or stayed back in the cabin, but when I had no takers to come with me I decided against it because I didn't know the area at all and the fire was making me a little sleepy. While some boys went out skiing the rest of us stayed in and chatted, boiled more water, and slept. Over all it was a very relaxing day. When it was time for dinner we had plenty for everyone and plenty of extra leftovers, that's another thing we could've cut back in a bit, but it's always better to be over prepared than under. For the rest of the night we socialized, snacked, played games, sat by the fire, and tried to scare a few of the rather jumpy students *cough cough*. It was a great night.
The next morning went fine now that we had all our food and lunch was pre-made before we cleaned up and set out. The day was even nicer than before; sunny and warm. The short hike to the cars seemed l like nothing compared to the day before and before long we had our skis on and were on our way. I stayed back at a leisurely pace and enjoyed the day and company of a friend. At one point we even saw a fat little wood pecker come out of its tree. The terrain was challenging (but a good challenging), lunch worked out perfectly, and all in all it was a fantastic two days. The one thing I would've changed it getting used to snowshoeing before hand with the pack and skis on, because it was probably the most challenging part physically and mentally and you got clothes lined by a lot of trees as well.

Ben said...

Our Gatineau Winter overnight trip started with the planning of our menu, equipment and route. The route we chose looked good on the map, however we didn’t know that the lunch stop area for our first leg of the trip had moved, which caused some difficulty on the first day. The group equipment was planned well and we seemed to have everything that we needed, other than a replacement for a broken buckle on a backpack. The food on our menu was great and healthy, with a well-rounded balance of nutrients; however we brought way too much which resulted in some food going to waste.
On Thursday morning, we started with some last minute packing of the group equipment and food. In hindsight, we probably should have done the packing the day before for everything except for the food that needed to be refrigerated. Then, on Thursday morning we could have just done a double check to make sure that everyone had all of their equipment, and packed the food from the refrigerator. Once we arrived at the park, the snowshoeing started off slowly with some minor adjustments of snowshoes and backpacks and some confusion regarding which path to take. Eventually, we got into a groove and were snowshoeing very well until lunch time. Two things I noticed about having a big pack with long skis attached to it are that it’s hard to climb up hills and under tree branches. It took me awhile to figure out where my skis were so that I could get under tree branches, and I still haven’t quite figured out the best way to get up a steep hill without slipping. Since we didn’t have any way to have a hot lunch, we decided to stop for a snack and then cross over two frozen lakes in order to get to Brown Cabin faster, instead of going up a larger hill and around the two lakes. It was good that we were able to think on the spot and come up with a decision that was best for the whole group, as lots of us were getting hungry and looking forward to a hot lunch.
Arriving at the cabin, I realized how good we had it as the cabin had lots of luxuries that I didn’t expect to have. We quickly began lunch preparations in the full kitchen, with everyone doing something (collecting snow for water, chopping firewood for kindling, making the sandwiches, etc.). We then settled down for a while and sat by the fire, while Mr. Brouwer skied over to his car to pick up a pair of boots for a student that had forgot them, and bacon for our breakfast the next day. We also prepared our lunch for the next day during this time, which was a good idea as we were able to relax during our lunch time on the second day. This shows the importance of double checking and making sure that everyone has all their equipment before heading out, since it could have posed a problem had Mr. Brouwer not been so close to home. During the dinner preparations, we learned how much snow it takes to make a pot of water as our dinner took a long time to prepare since we were waiting for snow to melt. We probably should have begun melting the snow earlier, since by the time we sat down to eat it was dark outside. After dinner, we settled down with some games and eventually everyone went to sleep.
(Part 1)

Ben said...

The second day was my favorite part of the trip. We prepared breakfast as a group very well, which gave us lots of time to eat and pack. We had a short snowshoe over to Mr. Brouwer’s car to drop off our packs and snowshoes, and then we began the ski. The skiing is the reason why the second day was my favorite part of the trip. We had great conditions, and I feel like I improved as a skier as the day went on. The hills were hard, but I felt accomplished once I got to the top of a hill. My glide for both skate and classic skiing improved and I felt much more comfortable on skis by the end of the day. Our stop for lunch was quick and efficient, since we prepared it the day before, to my relief. The chicken ceasar wraps and trail mix provided us with enough energy to finish the day, although it was mostly downhill. Overall, despite a few flaws, I thought that this trip was one of the best Outdoor Ed experiences that I’ve had.
(Part 2)

mackburnsie said...

PAD40 Gatineau Park XC ski/snowshoe trip – Reflection

Mackenzie Burns

Oh my!! What a trip!! This trip was one I will never forget. I was fortunate enough to spend two days with a great group of people and form great memories to remember when I think back to my final semester at Cairine Wilson. This was one of those things, I am glad to say I was able to do it, but during… I sure had some different thoughts.

In the weeks leading up to the trip I had been so excited and looking forward to getting away for two days with no access to social media, no work and be with a small group of people who I genuinely love being around. I knew I was going to have a blast!

The day we went to leave I was getting pretty nervous for the second day ski, because I knew that it would be a lot longer and a lot harder than anything we had done in class. I really did not know what to expect. So we pull up to a really nice spot in Gatineau with one little parking lot and a map. We unloaded all of our things, got dressed, put our snowshoes on, said goodbye to our driver and were headed on our two day trip.

We, or I, quickly realized that this seven kilometer snowshoe was going to take a while longer than imagined seeing as how the first half of it was uphill. I stayed in the back because I knew I was not the strongest and fastest snowshoe-r. After about two hours, I started to think I bit off more than I could chew… My back was sore, I was hungry, tired and just wanted to get to the cabin to hang out for the rest of the day. We ended up not stopping for lunch due to not being able to find the break spot we had been expecting to fall upon. We decided to just keep trekking until we got to the cabin. After hours of snowshoeing on really nice trails through the mountains, we ended up on a lake. We were told that we had two options; one being to go over a massive mountain to get there or go right across the lake. Seeing as how we were all hungry and looking forward to lunch, we decided to kick it across the lake. It was such a nice view going across the lake! The only downfall to the lake was that it was out in the open and we had nothing blocking our faces from the cold wind. I don’t think I will ever forget the moment of seeing the cabin in the distance and yelling to Mr. Brouwer “IS THAT IT?!” and his response being “Yes, that’s it.” I just turned to the people behind me and was so excited to let them know that we were almost there even though they had already noticed the cabin.

Walking into the cabin was definitely one of the best feelings! The cabin was so nice! Full kitchen, a bunch of bunk beds, two massive tables, couches and a wood stove. We quickly separated in the cabin, all getting jobs done that had to be done before anyone could sit down and relax. We needed wood for the stove, snow to melt on the stove once the fire had been started, and unpacking all of our food from our packs and some people started making lunch in the kitchen. Lunch was good and simple, grilled cheese sandwiches. Some people still had energy to spare after lunch, so some people went for a ski to explore the surroundings of our cabin. I on the other hand, was exhausted and was really looking forward to having a nap in front of the wood stove. I grabbed a mattress off one of the beds and placed it in the middle of the couches, and fell asleep for a bit. Once I woke up and everyone was back in the cabin and we had hung out for a couple hours we decided to get dinner started. Dinner ended up being great! We could have fed an army with the amount of pasta, salad and garlic bread we had made!

(Part one)

mackburnsie said...

After dinner was finished and everything had been cleaned up, we all started to sort of do our own thing. Some of us hung out by the fire, some talked and some played card games. Everyone seemed to be having a great time! Of course during all of our hanging out, we had been taking turns getting snow to melt so that everyone had access to water if they were thirsty. After hours of endless laughs and storytelling, we figured it would be a good time to get ready for bed seeing as how the next day we would be snowshoeing for two kilometers and skiing for fifteen. Of course we couldn’t hit the hay without some of the boys playing pranks on the only two girls staying in the cabin. All in good fun!

I was pleasantly surprised by a goodnights sleep in the cabin. The only downside to it was that when we went to bed, the fire was going strong so the cabin was extremely hot, but waking up the fire had died so it was pretty cold first thing. Once we got the fire going again it was back to being warm. Once again, we all did things that needed to be done. Getting snow, making breakfast and packing up everything so that we could head out at a decent time so we wouldn’t have to rush our ski. We packed everything up and cleaned the cabin so that it was just as nice as when we arrived. After writing in the cabins journal about our stay, we headed out for a long day of skiing.

This is where I thought I had bit off more than I could chew. The 2km snowshoe was nothing compared to the previous days 7km one. When we got on our skis, everything changed. I realized that keeping up with everyone at our school was not going to be the same as skiing after a tiring day before this and having half of the ski being uphill. I just kept saying “Is skiing not meant to be done down a hill? Not up?” I was getting pretty frustrated because I was struggling to keep up. Thank god for good classmates who were encouraging me to keep going. I struggled and struggled for the first half of the ski until we stopped for lunch in the cutest cabin in the mountain! After lunch, the ski became much more enjoyable. There was a lot more flat ground to cover and couple pretty fun downhills which I was always so excited to see. Seeing the parking lot from the top of a hill was the best feeling of the entire trip for me. I was almost done! I had done it! There were times during the ski where I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to do it, but I pushed myself and kept going.

Climbing into the back of a van to sit down after our two day trip was so nice. I was so proud of myself for being able to do it and push through all of my complaints and pains. Like I said, so glad I am able to say that I did the trip, but definitely doubted myself during the trip. I made so many memories that will last forever with great people and two great teachers who took time away from their personal lives to take 9 rowdy teenagers on a two day winter camp trip. I will forever appreciate having the opportunity to take this trip and really push myself harder than ever before. Thank you so much to everyone who put up with me over the duration of the trip! Couldn’t have done it without you crazy bunch!

(part two)

MattL12 said...

This is my second time taking outdoor ed, and every year has been a blast! The trip we went on this year has to one of my favourites! Other than me being an idiot and forgetting my ski boots. If weren't for my awesome teacher I would have been stuck snowshoeing 15 k and I am very grateful I did not have to do that! I enjoyed all the meals we prepared, I don't not have a problem with any! Getting the snow every 10 minutes for water was kind of annoying but it is something you have to do. I couldn't have asked for better people to go on the trip ether, everyone got a long we'll and had no issues! The 15 k ski was very intense and a lot of uphill! It was a very big workout the entire trip and I liked that part!

MattL12 said...

Overall the trip was a success ! And I enjoyed every minute of it. Also I can't wait for the next moving water trip later this semester!