Frontenac P.P (Tripping 2 course)
Friday, May 16, 2003 to Monday, May 19, 2003
route: Big Salmon Lake, Labelle Lake, Big Clear Lake, Black Lake, Little Clear Lake, Little Salmon Lake, Big Salmon Lake
length: 4 days
offsite report: http://kapn
This was a good course which covered the bases of trip leadership in a very short time. Erik and Janna were good leaders, if a little too hands off initially.
There were a total of 15 people on the course: 2 instructors (Erik and Janna), 12 paid participants (Beth, Keith, Gwyn, Kristen, Bill, Devon, Brandon, Cat, John, Ron, Dan, Mark, and Richard (another Harbourfront staff person who was refreshing his memory).
The route was ok, but with virtually all of the travelling packed into Saturday, there were 5 portages totalling 2700m that day. Too much for my taste.
We met at the trail centre, handed out notes and talked about basic setup of the course and what the general norms would be about fires, etc. The weather forecast was good for the weekend with some rain expected on Friday, but generally clear with highs of 17-20 and lows of 5-8 over the period.
Given that we didn't know each other very well it would have been good if Erik and Janna had forced a little gear consolidation.
For the duration of the course there would be three solo paddlers when we were tripping. We would take turns being those paddlers.
We would also take turns leading topics and being 'leader of the day'.
A short paddle brought us to our site (#4). I was somewhat amused to remember that this is where Beth, Morgan and I were caught in a massive overnight thunderstorm three years ago and got fairly wet. It's a nice site and we got set-up, and then launched into our topics which included how to shit in the woods, bears and bear-proofing. Dinner was made with more or less frouferah depending on the group. This trip is do it yourself food, which has some advantages, but one group had fairly elaborate food plans for the weekend which frequently caused delays. I'm not sure of the solution here except maybe clearer time guidelines when the course material is going out.
After dinner topics included meal planning and kitchen equipment and setup.
Our main travel day with all but 5km and one portage occurring on this day. Beth, Bill and I were the solo paddlers for the morning. Lead boats were designated and route discussed.
Lunch stop was on an island in Big Clear Lake just as we turned west to head down the west arm to the Black lake portage. After lunch we looked at knots (figure of 8, reef, sheetbend, bowline), weather prediction, and compass use. We shot a couple of bearings from the island: 80° to a cottage high on a rock to the east of us and 160° to the point we had just rounded to the south.
Portages quickly proved to be something of a problem. John had sprained his ankle in camp, but tried the first couple of portages anyway and really made it bad. No more portaging for him. Fortunately, he was still able to walk across with paddle and pfd. To add to the problem, some people had lots of loose stuff in their boats. While Beth, Kristen, Gwyn and I were able to get our stuff over in one carry, there was so much frou-frou (bottles, sleeping pads, etc.) that nearly everyone had to do an extra carry or sometimes two. It took longer than I would have liked for the owners of the loose stuff to start to get the point.
Some of us were also frustrated about the choices some folks were making on portages leaving boats till last. In my opinion boats should come first or close to it and that when gear arrives it should go right into a boat.
The final portage of the day ended right near our site. Most folks opted to carry over the hill via the hiking trail and end at the site. I opted for downhill to the end of the portage and paddle around the corner. I think carrying your boat to camp is just wrong .
In retrospect, I should have been a bit clearer with the group about what I was doing, so that no one had to look for me. It wasn't really an issue and no one did have to come looking, but it could potentially have been a problem.
Our site for the next two nights was pretty nice and Beth and I chose the distant tent pad and Gwyn, Kristen and Cat joined us there. I was hungry and a bit grumpy from the portaging, but a quick swim and a snack perked me up. Supper suffered from some of the same delays as before. Topics for the evening included canoe history and boat repair.
This morning Ron and I were the 'leaders of the day'. One interesting note: although we had been hopelessly off schedule most of the weekend so far and Ron and I managed to keep us to within 10 minutes of the schedule, someone actually thought timing was a problem when no one had mentioned it in the timing disasters of the day before. Very funny.
Morning topics were tandem lakewater paddling with Janna and throw bags and compass work with Erik. Richard saved us from late meal stuff by doing the remaining dishes at breakfast and lunch.
Lunchtime topics included canoe design, construction and materials, and paddle design and materials.
Afternoon was solo paddling. This solo lakewater stuff is strange and difficult. Janna said that the testing skills aren't so much practical as demonstrations of boat control.
Sunday evening was more topics and a little bit of down time.
Beth and Kristen are our 'chefs de jour'. More solo paddling for those who needed it. Late morning topics included first aid, tent design and boat outfitting. After lunch we were finishing the packup when Erik and Janna threw a mock first aid and evacuation incident at us. Given that we were tired and knew quickly that it was staged, it became remarkably real because of that ambivilence.
We carried it through quite a long way -- actually into the boats and around a point and attempting a removal. We stopped at that point. There were lots of things that could have gone better about it, but it was good learning experience and we had quite a good debrief.
Into the boats and out of camp about 4:30pm, a short paddle, a 974m portage, an even shorter paddle and we were off the water at the take-out.
Change and load-up, back to the trail centre for wind down and individual interviews with Erik and Janna.
Beth and I were both awarded Lakewater I, and Tripping 2 (pending completion of homework, and in Beth's case MW2).
Because we were so late out of the park we stayed in Peterborough after picking up the kids. Tuesday morning back to TO.