Sunday, March 1, 2015

PAD4O Gatineau Winter Overnight

This week, 14 grade 12 Outdoor Ed students headed to Gatineau Park for their 2 night stay at Brown Cabin. This was truly a great trip with many adventures and challenges squeezed into a 3-day period.

 The wonderful thing about the grade 12 trips is that the students are responsible for planning everything and this crew did very well. While I was away organizing the NCSSAA Nordic Ski Meets and attending OFSAA Nordic with our Nordic Ski Team, the grade 12 students planned our trip using a Google document to ensure everyone, including me, was up to speed. Everything from our menu, activity plans, routes and required equipment was well taken care off. There was no doubt when we stepped on the bus on Monday that this would be a fantastic trip.

The plan was to head into the Brown Cabin with all of our gear and food to get set up, before we would head out on our snowshoes for an adventure. The trip in was quite smooth, although a few worked quite hard to pull the toboggan with most of our food. After getting set up, we studied the maps and set our sights on a couple of peaks to explore on our snowshoes. We started by breaking trail across Brown Lake to Carmen Lake, where we surprisingly found some ready made tracks up to a little lake that was just below our goal. Breaking trail up the last part to our first peak was quite a challenge, with the snow being very deep. After a short break on our first peak, we decided to abandon the plan for a second peak, as we were going to run out of daylight. This is where the group decided on a route that would take us back in a straight line to the cabin. It turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip, as we ended up on some steep descents where we could ride the large amounts of snow down on the back of our snowshoes. By the cheers of excitement, it was obvious that everyone was enjoying themselves.

We finished the short trek back to the cabin, as the sun was setting. It was time to get the fire roaring, start melting the snow for drinking water and prepare dinner for a hungry crew. Dinner was a fantastic spaghetti with garlic bread and ceaser salad, what could be better. The evening was spent around the fire, playing games.

The next day started with an eggs and bacon breakfast, which was important, as this was going to be a long day on our skis. The students had planned a XC ski route that would take us around Lac Phillipe, with a lunch at Renaud Cabin and a visit to the Lusk Caves. This would be about a 22 km ski.

The first 11 km to Renaud Cabin went really well. Everyone was skiing really well and we moved quite efficiently as a group. Lunch was a great spread of grilled cheese sandwiches and many other goodies. After lunch we headed to the real goal of the day, the Lusk Caves. With many students having been to the caves in their grade 9 year with Geography class, they were very curious what it would look like in winter and whether we could actually go in them. We were not disappointed, what a true treat. You could see the water running under clear ice and the ice allowed you to slide through many tunnels that were in the caves. The ice also provided some spectacular views and there were plenty of channels for the students to explore. We spent at least an hour exploring and it was a highlight that we will not soon forget.

We did have to finish our last 7.5 km before it got dark, so we had to continue. This is where some of the students really started to feel the distance. Not only that, there was still plenty of climbing to do, although there was a promise of a long downhill towards the end. Everyone made it back before dark and the nice thing was that a wonderful stir fry dinner was ready when we returned to the cabin. This was followed by some marshmallows at the campfire. What a great way to finish a fantastic day.

The final morning was all about cleaning up the our gear and the cabin, as we got ready to trek out to the bus on our snowshoes, but not before we had a pancake (with chocolate chips) breakfast to fill us up. All in all, a wonderful trip with. My compliments to the group for a well planned and executed trip. The standard has been set, this will be a good semester.

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