This year the trip could only be described as cold! The group included: Alex Jones, Elliott Jones, Anthony Nguyen, Paul Rosenbaum, Jack Hilditch, Luis Marcelo de la Garza, Willem Van Sittert, Eric Cheng, Dmitrii Kozak, Izzat Homsi, Reece Wilson-Poynton, Cassandra Mitchell, Michael Steier, Zachary Koh, Beatriz Dias, Ming Scott, Paul Zhao and chaperoned by Giles Campbell, Sarah Miller, Clyde Dawson and James Leslie.
We left Ridley at 5am on Thursday and arrived in Sundridge to the Chocpaw Office at 10am. After a short lunch and information session we were introduced to our teams of dogs, lashed down our packs to the sleds and were off. The scenery was spectacular, but there was a definite nip in the air! The temperature continued to drop and the next morning we woke to a bone chilling -35C.
Undeterred we took off for a three hour loop and came back to the same camp. Fortunately it warmed up and we enjoyed -18C for the rest of the day. Students were paired with either other students, a teacher or a guide and each day we covered about 30km. Students helped with camp chores including, getting water from the river or lake, cooking, dish duty and feeding the 76 dogs.
On the third day we broke camp and blazed a trail along the scenic ‘Ridgeline Trail’ and continued on to our final camp on Char Lake in the north east corner of Algonquin Park. Unfortunately as we got into camp and set about the wood collection chores the temperature dropped and the wind picked up which meant that by suppertime we were into temperatures of -35C, with the wind chill dropping it down to -42C. Still in a good mood we snuggled down in our heated tents, had supper and good conversations.
On Sunday morning the sky’s were blue, but still at the same temperature. We enjoyed the run out through the Ridgeline Trail and were back to the dogyard at noon, some a little more chilled than others. Our bus gave us a scare as the batteries had frozen, but after a jump we had it running for the long trip home.
I have to say that each of the students kept in high spirits and really rose to the challenge of this adventure. We all had periods of cold fingers and toes, but the connection with the dogs combined with the spectacular scenery made it all worth it. It was a great adventure and I’m proud of all the students and chaperones for making the trip such a success.
As told by Giles Campbell – Coordinator of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award at Ridley College