Sleeping Bag, check! Tent, check! Food, check! 25 students equipped and ready for what they are hoping will be a fun and memorable trip.
The weather was perfect for most of the week – maybe a bit too hot on the first day for the first group but it settled for the remainder of the week giving us a combination of sun and clouds with temperatures perfect for hiking and even swimming.
Mr. Brouwers’ class tackled the trails first. Despite looping around the parking lot, the group got off to a fairly quick start moving with eagerness and zeal. In fact, they moved at such a rapid pace that some could barely keep up. The heaviness of the packs did nothing to slow them down. The hike to cluster 12 took only about 3.5 hours, which included several stops to re-hydrate and to re-convene as a group. Some were happy to stop at 12 and call it a day, while the others moved on to cluster 9. The sun was still shining by then so most of the students took advantage of the warm weather to soak in the lake (and to wash!). Refreshing and revitalizing it was. The rest of the evening was spent figuring out how to work the stoves, cook (some for the first time ever!) and set up sleeping quarters. By night fall, most were exhausted from their first big day and crashed fairly early – while others were too excited to sleep.
The next morning, we woke up to some fog and a bit of a chill. It took about 2 hours for everyone to eat their breakfast and take down camp. Once all packed up, the group from cluster 12 joined up and everyone was once again, ready for another exciting day on the trails. The forecast called for some sun so we looked forward to arriving at our next campsite in hopes that another swim would be possible.
The hike was a little shorter the second day and took us to a nice lookout point where we stopped for lunch. The group moved exceptionally well this day, continuously making sure everyone was together and doing okay. Still no sun at this point but no rain either so no one complained. The lookout is located just above cluster 5, one of our campsites, so after lunch the group divided up again (after getting the short end of the straw), leaving a small group at 5 while the others moved on to cluster 4 (approximately 45 minutes away) – both sites are located on Big Salmon Lake.
The wind was blowing and the air was a bit chilled that evening. Those at cluster 5 were protected from the south easterly winds so were able to go swimming. Those at cluster 4 were not as fortunate as they battled the winds. Instead, they spent time looking for firewood and mingling with their friends. There was lots of good chats and laughter around the campfire that evening.
Morning once again, came quickly. A bit overcast with moderate temperatures. Students were again efficient with breakfast and packing up camp. Once the other group arrived, everyone hiked out to the parking lot where the second class would meet. The hike took approximately 1.5 hours and went without any problems. At the end, high fives were exchanged and some hoot and howlers could be heard from afar – a sign of relief and great accomplishment by everyone. The first group definitely deserves high praise for their success on their first outdoor overnight trip. Hopefully, this trip will encourage them to do more overnight trips in the future.
The classes had to exchange equipment, which tends to take a bit of time, but, to a pleasant surprise, group 2 was quick – obviously also quite eager to get started on their trip.
Trumpowers’ class moved along quite well at a steadier pace. The weather was perfect that day for hiking – overcast in the low 20’s. The first hour of the hike proved to be the most challenging in the trip as many struggled with proper fitting of their packs. Unfortunately for some, the packs never got more comfortable or lighter but that didn't stop anyone. Just a short distance from the first campsite of the day, the sun came out and brightened everything up. A small group remained at 12 (and happy to stop at this point) while the rest continued to 9. The view at campsite 9 was breathtaking. The lake was calm and the sunset over the ridge was magnificent. Despite a long, hard first day, the mood was positive and the spirits were high. Some swam while others set up their abodes. Few managed to gather firewood but everyone seemed to be feasting on some hearty meals. A nice campfire that evening allowed the group to get acquainted and share funny stories.
The next day proved to be just as beautiful and perfect for both hiking and swimming. Although a bit tired and achy from hiking the previous day, the group travelled well together on the second day all the way to the lookout point. Eager to swim, the entire group rushed down to campsite 5 for lunch rather than eat at the top of the cliff where one can enjoy the view. Dividing this class between the two campsites proved to be a bit more challenging as several students wanted to stay. After some deliberation, the class split and half the group continued on their journey. Although a bit tired, the second group was pleasantly surprised on the layout and the view of campsite 4. After a super quick tent set up, everyone jumped in the lake. The sun was still shining and the wind had subsided – making it a majestic early evening. Luckily, the group had yet another successful day and evening. Now clean (and smelling better), bellies full and a decent amount of campfire gathered, the group ended their perfect day with a group fire and some games.
Final day was even better than the previous. The sun was out and the loons were singing. The hike out was smooth and, fortunately, uneventful. With the end in sight, most students were excited, happy, yet sad that it was already all over. Nothing, however, can describe the feeling these students had when they spotted the yellow school bus at the end of the trail.
Frontenac Hiking Trip – check!