I am enrolled in the Summit 2 elective, which ventures into the wilderness on three expeditions throughout the year. Just before spring break, we embarked on our second expedition: snowcaving.
Annoyingly warm winter temperatures led to Mrs Mctavish and Mr McKillop changing the location of the expedition from the local mountains to Duffey Lake, 188 kilometres away. That’s how far you need to travel to find snow around here. Depressing.
The long distance covered led to a 5:45 wakeup and an early morning drive to Mulgrave. From there, we drove the 188 miles to Duffey Lake, where we were amazed by the patchy, crusty, icy, inch-deep snow. Luckily, a road led up into the mountains where snow was deeper. We parked, met our guide Rich, recieved snowshoes and shovels, quickly reviewed avalanche safety, then headed off into the wild. My backpack, only carrying the tent fly, the pot set, most of our food, my clothes, my sleeping bag, my thermarest, my journal, and a pencil was a welcome break from a heavy school backpack.
After a pleasant stroll through the forest and over a frozen lake, we arrived at a nice meadow where we decided to set up camp. We unloaded our packs and started assembling the tent. During the unloading of the backpacks, I was alarmed to discover that twice as much chocolate had been packed as was needed: we suffered greatly from this.
Max, Sebastian and I chose a site near the woods. It was flat, but there was one downside: Multiple trees grew beneath the tent area, and often one’s leg would fall into one and end up buried up to the upper thigh.
After the assembly of the tent, it was time to make a cold trap: a trench dug in front of the tent. Cold air sinks, so the trench ensured that we wouldn’t freeze to death in our sleep. During the digging of the trench, we accidentally freed a small tree. Max named it Groot.
The next step was to build a group kitchen. We took out our snowshovels and saws and had fun building a kitchen, complete with countertops, seats, tables, a trash chute, cupholders, and a refrigerator. It was one of my favorite parts of the trip.
After this, we built our snow structures. The idea was that we could sleep in them if we wanted or we could sleep in the tents. (Spoiler: Everyone chose the tents.) We ended up building two snowstructures. Ours resembled a stereotypical snow fort. Theirs was a lot like ours, except it had a roof. Since the snow was so dry and did not stick together, they were a bit of a challenge.
By then, we were ready for dinner. My group ate pasta. Chocolate for dessert was a big hit. I also brought marshmallows and graham crackers, but cold s’mores aren’t really the same.
The rest of the day was spent filming the grade 9’s greek tragedy video, starring Bear Grylls and Caitlyn the Bear. I was one of the set designers.
After that, we went on a short moonlight stroll through the meadows. It was a nice end to the day. We were alarmed when someone found what looked like a werewolf claw: with the full moon, it was a disconcerting sight. Poking it with a stick, however, revealed that it was really a piece of lichen.
The stroll ended rather abruptly when we tried to cross a creek, someone fell in, and the teachers decided to head back.
We got ready for bed. My socks were soaked from snow getting in my boots, so I hung them on Groot to dry.
Breakfast was oatmeal. After breakfast, we destroyed the kitchen and forts (fun!), packed up the tents, and headed out.
Thanks Ms Mctavish, Mr McKillop and Rich for taking us on this amazing adventure!
Mrs Mctavish also posted a writeup of this trip: http://pln.mulgrave.com/outdoored/2015/03/06/hi-ho-hi-ho-its-off-to-find-snow-we-go/