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.