Day one was filled with a nervous but extremely excited energy. Considering I had never been interior camping before, I had never experience the “logistics” of it if you will. There were two people that pitch the tent, one to cook, and two to go get firewood. I was assigned the role of tent pitching. After Tristan and I pitched the tent, I began to wonder if I had packed all the necessary food items. This feeling was all too common for me over the last 48 hours.
The Friday before our camping trip, we had sat down in class as a group and decided upon who is bringing what. The wise thing to do was to write it down so we could go through every meal in our minds and make sure we have the appropriate materials to make it. This crucial sheet was to be brought home by me as I had already given everyone else their responsibilities. However, as I go to fetch the list from my binder while I begin to pack my pack, I come to the dreadful realization that it’s not there. What do I do now? Well first I text everyone in the group asking if they have it, all but one answer saying no. I had a gut feeling it was still at school, so my Mother and I took our chances and went to school on a lovely Mother-Son bonding trip to Cairine Wilson on a sunny Saturday afternoon; no luck. The next day I began proceeding otherwise convincing myself it had been thrown out. Retracing my steps, and based off of what everyone had told me they were responsible for bringing besides that same group member who hadn’t answered the first time, I was able to recreate what I was responsible for bringing. Lucky.
Back again to the first night. We stayed at Campsite 12 with two other groups as well as Ms. Trumpower and another man. At approximately 5 pm we ate pre-cooked hamburgers, which might as well felt like a thick sirloin steak at that point. Everyone seemed pretty impressed as far as my burger cooking skills went, however that may have just been the hunger talking. The burger felt good to eat as well as the Kit Kat’s for dessert. After doing the dishes and cleaning up the campsite, we all came to the realization that we had to put up a food bag. The real first problem for our group was determining who would have to fully unpack their pack to put the food in it to hang from a tree. I was immediately out of the picture considering I was using someone else’s personal pack and we didn’t want it to get mauled by a bear or any other animal. To decide we drew sticks - Devan lost. Tristan and I found a decent tree to hang it from, however perhaps not decent enough as s. Trumpower came and helped us out by adjusting it for us. It didn’t make her job any easier considering Patch had wrapped the rope around the tree 2000 times, but anyways. We then discovered that we had marshmallows, and another group had graham crackers and chocolate - s'more time! The three groups of students sat around the campfire speaking of how much school work we have, sports, cracking jokes at each other, the usual for teenagers around a fire. The s’mores turned out amazing and it filled us all right up, me included. At about ten o’clock, the groups (myself especially) began to drift off. We called it a night at about 10:15, and all slept soundly through the night. What had I learned that night? That setting up a pre cooked dinner for 5 teenage boys wasn’t as difficult as I thought it’d be, I should leave the fire making to the other group and that hiking for 11 kilometers definitely can be felt the next day.
Tuesday - Day 2. Tristan I woke up at 6am to catch the sunrise over the lake; what a sight. The two of us combined took 50 pictures within 20 minutes. We allowed the rest of the group to sleep until about 6:30 before barging into the tent to tell them to to come help us out and make breakfast. That morning we had pre cooked eggs and oatmeal, which overall turned out. I wasn’t a fan of the oatmeal so I passed mine on, but the eggs I thought I did a pretty good job on! I think one of the most difficult parts of every night was the packing up the next morning. Ms. Trumpower had told us all to be prepared to leave at 9am, so we were - barely. There was a reason behind the 6am wake up call and that was because Tristan had a strange “feeling” that our group maybe wouldn’t work quite as quickly or efficiently. I packed up the tent, and quickly assumed the role of the “who has this” and “who has that” guy. I was scrambling around the campsite to ensure no one left any food, belongings, tent pieces etc behind. Surely enough no one left a thing, and we ready at precisely 8:59am. From that note we went on to campsite 9 to get the rest.
Throughout the trek on Tuesday, water became much more of a demand. The temperature rose steadily up until about 2pm to about 19℃. For lunch we stopped at one of the most scenic and beautiful lookouts I had ever experienced. We all stepped out on to the rock that overlooked much of Big Salmon Lake and quickly had our breath taken away. Some by the sheer height and fear factor of the rock hanging over the lake 100 ft in the air, but rather the sights that came along with it. I for one was amazed at how nature really can be an artistic masterpiece. After a quick lunch with veggies and cold cuts, we headed off to Campsite 4. Our group decided upon Campsite 4 because we wanted to have as little as a hike as possible for our last day, however Jakob may not have agreed. We hit a small bump on the road as it is believed Jakob had not totally filtered his water properly, so he began to feel quite ill. Despite the volcano like stomach feeling he had, he built up the power to get to Campsite 4. Upon our arrival, Tristan and I quickly pitched the tent as Mr. Brouwer suggested to Jakob he take a nap. The group had no issues taking on any of Jakob’s roles as we would’ve hoped for the same courtesy had either of us been in his position. For dinner that night we made an attempt to have pasta - an attempt that probably could not have been worse. It turns out the uncooked pasta doesn’t taste the greatest when u don’t empty the water out of the pot. I was the lucky one of the group however. A group of 5 girls had been working on a stir fry at their table while we attempted the pasta. Caylee saved me as she came over and offered a bowl of it to one of us, I was quick to say yes. The stir fry made up of rice, green and red peppers, celery and many more things tasted like heaven at that point. After dinner we assumed the same routine as the night before. Dishes, clean up, food bag. Food bag this time went to Tristan. At this campsite we had many better options for food trees, as Tristan and I quickly scouted one out upon arrival. We proceeded to the fire and s’mores as the night before, indulging in more chatter among my classmates and Mr. Brouwer and a kind lady from Sir Wil. She went on to ask us questions about our daily routines in our class, as well as the sports we do, Mr. Brouwer’s teaching styles, etc as she is attempting to make an Outdoor Education Program at Sir Wil. We were accompanied by a beautiful sunset over what seemed like a glass covered lake. We hit the pit slightly earlier at about 9:30 as I was just as tired if not more compared to the night before. We did however have new guests to the class camping trip, as coyotes were heard howling not to far away from us. Mr. Brouwer claimed they were just at the top of the ridge, which frightened one or two of my group members upon hearing the news but were quickly reassured “they are more scared of us than you are of them”.
Wednesday - The last day. We arose 6am once again to prepare breakfast for the last day of our trip. We woke to see of a picturesque sunrise over the lake, something I will soon not forget. We had a solid breakfast of sausages and leftover eggs from the day before, which filled us all up to take us to the parking lot 4 kilometers away. After packing up the tent, food and garbage, we were ready at precisely at Mr. Brouwer’s designated time of 9:30 with 10 minutes to spare, something out group was relatively proud of. The hike to the final destination of the parking lot may have seemed longer due to the anxious feeling of a warm shower and working plumbing. At approximately 12 o’clock we reached the parking lot and awaited the arrival of the other class. As friends of mine in Ms. Trumpower’s class approached us, a certain twitch in their eye appeared as they came within range of the smell that is a 3 day showerless teenage boy. We made jokes saying how they had no chance of survival and there was a bear they would run into, all to be taken lightly.
We arrived back at school for about 3:10, just in time for the bus I wasn’t taking - thanks Tristan’s Mom! As students came to load the bus, I got some looks as if I had just been pulled out of a landfill, all of which I did not care as I was half an hour away from a shower. Upon arrival home, Dad took the “after” picture for the “before and after” series of photos my Mother had requested for my brother and I despite my efforts not to.
This trip is certainly one that I will soon not forget. I learned many valuable skills sich as fire making, tent pitching, and hiking techniques that will for sure come into play at some point in my life. My favourite part of the trip had to be the community fires we had both nights. Stories and laughs lakeside by a fire and an epic sunset - simply can’t top it. My least favourite part of the trip had to be the hiking part of it. The hiking was simply tiring and at times painful due to the heavy pack and risk of heat stroke and cramps, but a pain that was tolerable for the end goal. Things I would do differently include ensuring I have the required sheets to bring home, double and even triple check packs and communicate more within our group in regards as to who is bringing what.
The Frontenac Hiking Trip is one that I recommend to any outdoor enthusiast, or perhaps anyone looking to become one. It has by far been the highlight of my high school experience.