Scouts Canada logo Lake of Two Islands Challenge Venturers’ Winter Skills

Three Venturer Companies Tackle the Deep Snow

Planning and preparation   -- Iain’s Idea!
WINDSOR, ON   The initial plan was to travel north to Lake Superior Provincial Park, north of Sault Ste. Marie during the March Break March 8-12, 2003.  The Towab trail would take the Venturers east from Hwy. 17 up the Agawa Canyon to Agawa Falls.  The trail is about 12 kilometres off the Frater Road. Numerous times the organizers contacted park officials and the local O.P.P. detachment for more information about the condition in the area in winter, however no one ever called back.  The next problem was none of the Venturer Advisors from Windsor were willing or able to attend or drive the youth to the trail.
Despite this inconveniences, plans continued.  Advisor Brian Wick, 1st Whitby Venturers, volunteered to accompany the youth and the Company continued with details of the plan including guest speakers on the subject of winter hiking, packing, meal planning and survival skills.

The Lions Club of Brooklin donated $1,000 to 1st Whitby to purchase tents. Also, the Royal Canadian Legion Windsor Branch donated $500 to the 57th Windsor Venturers so that they would be able to buy new tents for this camp.  To better understand the hardships the youth may face, 57th Windsor Venturers initiated a pre-camp at the local Cedarwin Scout Reserve.

1st Whitby : Graham Luke, Ryan Mitchell, Selena Lam, Keith Mcginty, Roderick Dotzko, Scouter Brian Wick , Drivers: Tim Pollock, Pete Owens, Greg Luke
1st Essex Med Venturers: Robyn Scheer, Fraser Sulatycki, Caitlin Goyeau, Dana Dupuis
57th Windsor Venturers:  Iain Tait , Marcus Hart, Phil, Owen, Brandan Dahl, Scouter Kelly, and Scouter Walter

Fraser, Robyn, Selena, Iain, and Brandan don homemade snowshoes - but a poor design. Windsor Arm-- just one ;-)
ARNER, ON   Members of the 57th Windsor and 1st Essex/Windsor Med. Venturers invited the 1st Whitby Venturers to a winter hike and camp on the weekend of Feb. 28, 2003.  The base site was Cedarwin Scout Reserve near Essex, Ontario near the shore of Lake Erie.  Despite being the furthest southerly point in Canada, Cedarwin offered a fresh blanket of snow (20 cm) and night-time temperatures below –10C.

1st Whitby arrived at about 11p.m. after a 6 hour journey by car.   Host Iain Tait, his leadership team and 6 Venturers, greeted them.  They quickly set up camp, then spent some time getting to know each other around a campfire.  The headquarters were established under a picnic shelter complete with propane lighting, stoves, patrol boxes dishes and a trailer to carry everything.   This is typical of Cub and Scout level camping and provided for security as these Venturers set out for their first full-pack hike.
Morning routine took much longer than is expected in camps held during the other three seasons of the year.  Breakfast included instant oatmeal and coffee.  By about 11 am the youth had torn down the campsite (except the kitchen), packed up and were ready to set out on the trail.

Two kilometres up the road the first rest stop was at the Arner gas station.  Here the youth filled up with snack foods and beverages.  It was also a good opportunity to fix their packs, rebalancing and adjusting straps and so on.  From here, the youth set out on their hike along the Greenway, part of the Trans Canada Trail.  They hiked approximately 10 km.

Although not incredibly significant of a distance, they were attempting to get accustomed to deeper snow and snowshoes.  Also, there was some room for improvement on lightweight packing.  The youth certainly accomplished their goal.  It was not in fact a certain distance, nor was it really a duration of hiking, but rather it was to learn new skills, and of course to reacquaint themselves with winter camping, and develop lightweight camping skills.  They also learnt a valuable lesson about how to properly prepare a lightweight meal.  The first attempt, was to boil a bag of chilli, unfortunately the first bag was melted on the bottom.  Therefore they were left with a pot of chilli soup.  This first attempt was quickly discarded and replaced with a pot of cooking chilli rather than a bag. This was much more enjoyable than the first.

From here, the three companies returned to the site from whence they came, but not before they had a bit of fun tobogganing down a nearby hill (one of the three in Essex County).  Upon arrival back at camp, they were greeted with a meal prepared by the 57th leaders.  Dinner was fried chicken and French fries.  It was very good, but was certainly not going to be included in the next menu.  The night was spent mostly around the campfire having a good time and telling stories.  The stories were about many things from the trail they had just hiked, all the way to Thailand where three of the youth and one leader had recently attended the 20th World Scout Jamboree.  The temperature had certainly changed from the last time the four were together.  Almost everyone went to bed early that night, with the exception of two.  Everyone was tired so the tents provided a warm sleeping area.

The next day, the Venturers were up early, but not quite as early as the day before. Plans for the next camp were reviewed in detail before the 1st Whitby Venturers departed for home.  Instead of going to Lake Superior Provincial Park, the plan was to go to a camp with a little bit less snow, and a tad closer to Whitby.  Two alternatives posed were the Bruce Trail (hiking from Petty River Valley Provincial Park to Devil’s Glen Conservation Area) and Ganaraska Trail starting north of Port Hope and travelling for 12 –15 kilometres.

Camp was broken (although it took quite some time and a lot of patience).  1st Whitby left just after 11:00.  Camp was officially broken at noon.  Many of the host youth were sad to see the departure of the other Venturers, but were anxious to see each other again in a few weeks time.

All present took quite a bit away from the camp.  Some went away with new skills; some with new friends and some went away with a bit of apple pie left over from the night before.  All, however, went away with a sense of anticipation for the next camp.
“Cuando Omni Flunkus Inridium Vita”

Ryan ready with snowshoes, that don't fit. Whitby Arm the right… ;-)
HALIBURTON VILLAGE, ON   The Windsor Venturers arrived at Toronto Greyhound Terminal at 12:55 after a five-hour journey.  Tim and Scouter Brian picked them up and took some of the youth on a “Toronto Tour” as Scouter Brian chased a bus around the waterfront to get a photo of it.  On arrival in Whitby, the youth made final plans for their menu and proceeded to repack to accommodate items that were not needed until the return journey to Windsor.  The 1st Whitby Venturers arrived at 4:00 and the group was broken up between two vehicles for the 2-½ hour journey north.

Scheduled stop at Subway in Minden allowed everyone an opportunity to grab a bite to eat.  Upon arrival at the campsite, the Venturers set up their shelter.  To help break the ice, everyone assembled at the cabin to get to know each other a little better.
Morning was a late start on the coldest of the three-day outing.  Some got up at 9:00 to start a fire. Most of the others weren't up until later, in fact, it was almost noon before everyone had had breakfast and were ready for the day's activities.

Day 1:  Lake of Two Islands
The first day hike started a little difficult because the snowshoes fell off everyone's boots.  Eventually most people just left them off which made it a lot better and easier to walk in the snow.  Everyone started out onto the lake, taking a counter-clockwise hike around Two Islands Lake.  The first rest stop was after only a little while on the trail.  The trail was quite difficult to pass since the snow was deeper than expected.   After the rest stop, Roderick took the lead, making up for the slow start.  Ryan and Roderick dug though snow that was up to their waist.

At one point a group began jumping from a cottage balcony into the snow.  The rest of the hike was mostly uneventful.
The lunch was a hearty stew provided by the Windsor Venturers. It was good. Upon return to the base camp, the Venturers dried out in Cheeman cabin.  This turned out to be a very long dry-out as most were still there at 11 pm.  Graham arrived from Morocco to join the second day of the hike.

Day 2:  Al's Diner and Haliburton Scout Reserve
Today we had another late start, everyone left at about 12 noon to begin the hike up the driveway to the road, then east along Kenneway Rd. toward Scouts Canada – Greater Toronto Region: Haliburton Scout Reserve. There, plans were to take up one of the many marked forest trails. In reality, the trail condition was not suitable for hiking since most had no traffic on them since last fall and were not clearly marked.  This left the group walking the road instead.

Roderick, Ryan & Keith pack out for day 2 First stop, Al's Diner (about 2 kilometres from the start.) There the Venturers enjoyed everything their hearts’ desired including, burgers, fries, chocolate milkshakes, ice cream, snow cones, Belgian waffles, bacon and eggs.

They walked along for fairly lengthy intervals, resting at the tops of the biggest hills. Cereal bars, trail mix and Gatorade were consumed for energy on the hike. The group eventually came to a fork in the road and took the wrong way! They found this out a little ways down the road when they came to a sign which read: “Logging Operations: KEEP OUT!” At this point the Venturers were a little dismayed and they turned from the road for lunch. It became extremely cold as the hikers became inactive for the lunch and rest. They gratefully enjoyed steaming hot bowls of chicken noodle soup and, before too long they were back hiking in the other direction.

When they reached the fork again for the second time they took the right way and hiked it until they came to the Haliburton Scout Reserve. This, they decided, was to be their camp and they quickly went to work finding and preparing tent sights as well as gathering wood for a fire. Soon enough, the Venturers were getting hungry for a filling supper and they sat down to prepare it. With stoves ablaze and the group chefs at work, the supper came through and proved to be delicious.
Afterwards, everyone was pretty exhausted and the majority headed to bed with minority following soon after. In the tents, they met with nice warm beds, which more than made up for the long and tiring day of hiking.

Day 3:  Back to Samac – Adventure Base
We managed to work up the courage to stick our heads out of our sleeping bags at around 8 am.  After taking the standard twenty minutes it takes to get dressed at a winter camp, we started to congregate around the stoves.  The stoves weren't working very much better than they had been the previous night, so we were forced to settle for lukewarm oatmeal.  It tasted the same, just slightly colder.  Once breakfast was finished, we started to break camp.

It took until around 9:30 to finish destroying what we had worked so hard to create.  We filled in pathways, buried the fire pit (after removing the burned wood), took down the tents (after posing for a thank you picture for the legion that donated us the funds needed to purchase them), and then finally headed back towards the road.

Scrambling to the Greyhound through St. Patrick's Day parade We started hiking and quickly realized that we hadn't melted nearly enough water.  Fraser's canteen was shared between about five of us.  After a few minutes, we grew so warm that a few of us were only wearing sweatshirts.  Well…  besides pants and underwear and stuff.  We made great time coming back.  Probably because we didn't take any wrong turns this time.

Upon our return to the cabin, the general sentiment was that we should collapse into bunks and not move unless it was time to consume food, or to leave tomorrow morning.  Lunch included chicken fingers and Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup.  As it turned out, Scouter Brian had a few odd jobs that needed doing.  Most of us carried wood, a few removed all traces of our base campfire pit, and the rest worked on repairing a broken window.

After 45 minutes of working we had hauled enough wood to heat the cabin for the next 50 years, removed every trace of fire in a 5 km radius, and restored the window to a perfect shine. Upon completion of these momentus tasks, everyone reconvened in the cabin to warm up, and rest more. Robyn was sitting at the end of the picnic table shuffling some cards with machine-like speed, and efficiency. Fraser tried to get a card game going with her, but to no avail. Finally Fraser got a card game going just by mentioning "Euchre", to which Graham, Keith, and Ryan awoke from their semi-comas, and leapt across the room to play. After an intense 35 minutes of knuckle busting, heart stopping action the game was over with Fraser and Graham victorious over Keith and Ryan, final score 10-7. Once everyone was over their heart attacks, Keith and Ryan began playing another game of cards, and everyone else continued chatting, and sleeping. Brandon began playing his harmonica, much to other's disapproval. Marcus tried to knock Brandon's head off from the top bunk to stop the horrible noise, but quickly realized it was more work than it was worth.

Camp broke early the next morning as the adventure came to an end. The Lam family in Whitby served all the youth a hot lunch upon return. Finally the guests from Windsor and Essex were shuttled into Toronto to connect with their Greyhound bus back to Windsor. Even that posed a little challenge as the St. Patrick's Day parade block streets and traffic onroute to the Bay St. station.

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