Sunday, March 15, 2015

Gatineau Park Winter Overnighter

Report Logs

Day 1
  • Starting off the trip we all came to school, prepared gear, helped pack the food, ate lunch, and then were on our way to the park via bus.
  • The bus ride down to the Gatineau area was rather uneventful.  Figuring I would probably need all the energy I could get, I slept.
  • The bus arrived at the parking lot, everyone quickly got their wits about them, and we were off on a 2 km snowshoe to the cabin.
  • After getting settled in to the cabin, unloading some of our gear, collecting some snow, and starting the fire, we took off on our outing for the day.  We went on an 8 km snowshoe out from our cabin around Carman lake.  We had planned too large a route so for coming back to the cabin we made a slide shortcut down the side of a hill.
  • On getting back to the cabin everyone set down to relax by the fire, prepare for dinner, and play some games.
  • For dinner I helped prepare the salad and garlic toast while a number of others made the group’s main course of spaghetti.  The meal left us with plenty to go around and everyone seemed satisfied and stuffed afterwards.
  • Finally, after the long day, the group relaxed a little while longer and then went to sleep.

Day 2
  • I was one of the last ones to wake up and had an awful headache when I did, so my start to day 2 was definitely a little rocky.  Thankfully, once we had had our egg sandwiches for breakfast, it seemed to start calming down.
  • Our planned outing for this day was to be our day-long 22 km ski, so we waxed up our skis, grabbed our jackets, and went on our way.
  • About halfway into the ski we stopped at Philippe cabin for a grilled cheese lunch and a quick breath, then carried on.
  • After a bit more skiing, we took a 2 km (1 km in, 1 km out) detour hike into the Lusk caves area.  We arrived and determined they were safe to venture into so we first went down the lower half of the caves (thankfully some people brought flashlights) until we reached a dead end just near the exit and we took some pictures.  We then came back up, went through the upper part of the cave, and hiked back to the ski trail.
  • Upon arriving back at the cabin, I started to feel quite ill.  My stomach felt like it was rupturing and I got an extremely painful migraine.  This meant I was somewhat incapacitated for the rest of the night so I spent it laid down next to the fire.
  • Due to my illness I had to go and spend a large amount of time in the outhouse and I came back in to find the now prepared fajita dinner out and ready.  I ate one, then went to lay down again because it had only upset the pain more.
  • After relaxing - or, trying to - once dinner had finished until around 8:30, I called it an early night and went to sleep in hopes that I would feel better the next morning.

Day 3
  • I was one of the first ones to wake up.  While not completely better I now at least felt functional so I did a quick few things and then helped prepare a pancake breakfast (did the flipping) with Russell and Sarah.
  • The breakfast was finished, and we all gathered up supplies around the cabins, cleared the sleeping areas, packed bags, cleaned up, prepared some water, and took to our snowshoes to head back to the parking lot.
  • We took the same 2 km trail that we had taken to get in to the cabin to get out from the cabin.  For the way back, Dylan and I hauled the sled full of our food and extra gear.
  • The bus arrived at the parking lot the same time that we did, we loaded up, and we were on our way back to school.  I slept for this whole bus ride too.


** I didn’t bring anything to take pictures with because at the time that this trip came up, I was highly looking forward to a sort of escape from my regular day-to-day schedule and felt that if I had either my phone or camera with me it would distract me and subtract from my experience.

Cabin camping was not what I expected it to be.  In all honesty, I had figured that we would have been huddled in a corner of the building freezing and starving for the bulk of the time; but, I was wrong.  The group had prepared well, and we had a whale of a time.
The trip in all was rather predictable - albeit, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun and a great thing to do - we had our meals planned for certain times, our activities, our techniques, our routes, it was all very on schedule and lacked in much spontaneity.  I say this not in a negative light, but in one of interest.  We had a number of things occur that one could assume to be quite unpredictable; things poped up that we hadn’t even thought about, and we adapted to them quite easily.  The adaptation was what I found so intriguing myself.  Examples of events like this being the power going down or our not having thought of means to actually collect snow for water.  We quickly dealt with these tasks before they were able to set off the flow of the trip by even the slightest.  I say that sounding like an observer because during our stay at the cabin, I took on more of the role of a support for the group.  I didn’t head up much and often left leadership to others.  I tried to remain as a fallback and learn from everyone else as much as I could.  While we were doing any part of our snowshoeing I was always helming up the back of the group to try and make sure that no one dwindled and got too distanced and I waited with people when they needed to stop momentarily.  I mainly did this to make sure the people with asthma in the group - which there were a number of - had some encouragement to carry on.  I’ve had quite bad asthma myself so I can say from experience that the encouragement really can drive you to achieve some amazing things when you unable to inhale.  Other than this I would be always checking on the kitchen crew, assessing the state of the cabin, and generally trying to act as, like I said, a support for the group; there when needed, and taking things on to help others be less encumbered.  Unfortunately, I became quite ill midway through the second day.  Stupidly, I tried to hide it, which on reflection I know I should never have done, and it ended up making about the last half of the trip not very pleasant.  Undoubtedly that would have to be the biggest downside of the trip for me, as can be expected; but, of course it was my own fault, so I will have to learn to not make the same mistake of trying to “tough-it-out” again in the future.  While on that note though, my favourite part would have to have been going to the Lusk caves.  Going in I wasn’t expecting much because I’ve been to the caves a number of times before and I figured I’d seen it all.  I shouldn’t have been so pessimistic because it was honestly breathtaking; it was like a completely new and undiscovered area.  I fell in love with the way the ice stalactites lined the sides of the cave and how crystal clear smooth the ice on the ground was all throughout - you could see the water running beneath your feet and it was as though you were hovering above it.  To say it’s absolutely pristine would be an understatement.  Adventuring through here was an absolute riot and I truly lament not being there now.  All of this said, I didn’t learn much.  Most of what we were doing was stuff we had already done in one way or another, so there wasn’t much to pick-up on.  Therefore, I tried to focus on learning from the habits of others and how other people handled certain situations; I didn’t discover much, but it definitely made for some insights.  That’s about all I have to say on that because it quite frankly wasn’t a very exceptional learning experience for me.  What it was though, was an exceptional experience.  After the first night, when everyone had fallen asleep and the fire had simmered down to not much more than coals, I sat by it and thought, about a lot of different things.  Life, work, school, relationships, friends, family, ideas, the future, the past, passions, dislikes, similar experiences, if my cats at home were whining about needing more food like they usually do at this time of night - a serious lot of things.  While I’m not going to share my thoughts, I will share that, yes, I may not have learned much, but after the trip I now feel somewhat improved - more balanced and composed one might say.  I don’t mean to sound all existential because that’s really not in my nature, but it is undeniably astounding how sitting in front of simmering coals and staring deep and intently into them can shift one in state.  I’ve had a particularly busy and rather stressful life as of late and I can say without a doubt that if not for that moment of reflection I was endowed to on the trip, I would be currently handling everything a lot less calmly and a lot more out-of-control.
All-in-all, thanks largely to the structure, the caves, the first night, and the general atmosphere of the group as a whole throughout the trip, this would have to be one of my most favoured memories to date.  The escape came just at the right time, with just the right people, and with just the right food.  I forgot to mention the food.  There wasn’t a moment gone by that I wasn’t stuffed to the brim.  It was even moreso that way than it ever is at home.  It was great. Would absolutely do this again in not so much as a half-heartbeat.

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