The rain gods spared us this year and gave us a glorious weekend in which to revel in the fall scenery and get lots of work done.
A large contingent of alumni and current/recent staff filled the hub on Friday night, reviving the energy usually seen on warm summer nights. Except this bunch were decked out in toques and “Haliburton Dinner Jackets”, evoking the cool styling of Bob and Doug McKenzie. Joining us again this year was the 21st Waterloo Venturer Company led by Dirk Garlichs and Jay Treacy.
Saturday saw us fueling up with the hearty breakfast offerings of Jeff Lake (76-77, 06), Mark Purcell (80-84, 90-92) and other helpers in the kitchen. We thank them for keeping us going on the many kilometers of tough slogging in the bush. Kevin Bell (89-93, 05-?) didn’t waste any time putting the younger staff and alumni to work on gutting out Bayview Cabin. A visitor could have thought that there was a SARS outbreak going on, with everybody wearing N95 masks. Apparently, the accumulated debris left from staff gone by has been declared toxic by Health Canada. The rest of us divided into two groups and headed up the Hurst Lake Road.
One group led by Jamie Kissick (74-76, 88-98), Mark Daly (73-78) and Katherin Green (89) worked hard on cleaning-up and re-marking the trail leading from the Hurst Lake Pavilion towards Beaver Lake. The other group headed by Grant Lafontaine (88), Tim Collier (96-99) and Katrina Angel (89-90) traveled along Coopers Loop Trail and had their sights set on overcoming the barrier presented by the dilapidated and decaying Pee Pond bridge. In what turned out to be a fortuitous hunch, the group started bush crashing around the Pee Pond, without crossing the bridge, and found that the new route was similar in length and difficulty to the original trail. There could have been an impenetrable swamp or sheer cliff in the way, but fortunately that was not the case. This means that there is no longer a need to construct a new bridge and then maintain it over the years – saving HSRSA and the camp precious dollars that can now be spent on other needful projects. Another advantage of this route is that the decommissioned trail at the end of the old bridge can now be used as a potential campsite. The exposed rocky outcrop has good tent spots with a panoramic view of the Pee Pond lake and wetland complex. (See also the 2010 Pee Pond post.)
Saturday night was a time to slow down and gather in the Hub for some Golf and Poker games. Tim and Mark filled Warner’s musical shoes by pulling out the guitars and playing some ditties. A re-invigorated group hit the trails on Sunday morning with one crew continuing the work on the new detour around Pee Pond. The initial steep stretch of the new trail has been nicknamed “Chewie’s Climb” for reasons that may have something to do with the resemblance of the forest to Endor, or the sighting of a Wookie-like figure. With Kevin’s blessing, the Pee Pond Bridge was relegated to posterity, as planks and a stringer were removed to prevent scouts from attempting a crossing next season.
The other group tackled the sparsely marked Pikes Peak and JC trails. Apparently, confusing trail markings on this route have left hikers rambling in the wrong direction for hours.The work group encountered water flowing through the Gorge like a biblical flood due to upstream beaver dams having been broken up the day before. The usual way of crossing over boulders was impossible, so the only option was to wade through swift cold waters (the Jamie Kissick option), or “tight rope walk”on a large tree trunk over the raging river and Gorge below (the Venturer option). The Marines have nothing on this intrepid group (which included the Venturers). Apt future trail weekend slogans: “Be All You Can Be”, or “Others will follow, where we lead”.
Much was accomplished this year, and it wouldn’t have been possible without a good turnout of enthusiastic people.
Don’t miss Mark Daly’s beautiful 2010 Trails Weekend photos.