I woke up and it was winter! 1999

What is a Gonzo, and how many does it take to fill up a National Park?

Well, first off, Gonzo is the name of a runner's club. Not just any runner's club, of course. It's was always more of a social club than a competitive entity. As the core group has aged (not gracefully, I might add), the running has become just one of many outdoor activities that include hiking, biking, camping, endurance, moon and water sports. The common theme to the sports is that they are all human-powered. If you don't sweat, or it has a motor, you're not likely to be doing a Gonzo event.

So, you run and hike, does that make you a Gonzo? First off, you have to at least know a Gonzo. It's sort of like passing around the sourdough starter. Gonzos can't spontaneously emerge from some Appalachian backwater or primordial ooze, altho they may spontaneously combust at any given moment.

Second, you need to participate in Gonzo events. In this respect you are very lucky. Gonzos are very social animals and you may find one almost anywhere. Since Viking and the Sun god have re-invented the group by starting up all sorts of hiking, biking , canoeing and endurance events, it is now very possible that you already have experience in some sort in a Gonzo-type event that is or soon may be on the Gonzo planning list.

OK. You've met a Gonzo and showed up for something like one of the Moon hikes. Now we get to the gist of the matter. The ultimate Gonzo event is still a social event. So you can run like a gazelle or do one hundred pushups without breathing, but do you have any useless thoughts that might be shared. Opinions on the state of the world or the price of hockey tickets. Do you have any distinguishing personal habits that make you a likely target of some good-humored abuse. Can you cook up a marvelous dessert or drink a coffee at every Timmie's on a road trip without asking to go to the 'loo.

All right. Now you are slowly but surely insinuating yourself into the group, but you're still not sure. When does one become a Gonzo? There is no initiation rite, or membership list to work with. Well, there is a test. Of course, it's not a standard test, there are no rules (typical Gonzo administration). You stop in the middle of whatever event you're in, there are Gonzos in the vicinity, you got up at 4:00 in the morning to get in the car with a few of them and you notice that there are very few people doing what you are doing. The trail is empty except for your group, the ocean is empty, it's a brisk -16 degrees, the road is clear, there is snow on the ground or it's pouring rain, your tent is the only one in the camping area, your feet the first ones to break this trail. You hurt in places that don't exist on your average couch potato.

Ahh! it's all clear now. Gonzo is a state of mind. You know when you're there. That's why you don't need all the rules.

So, how many Gonzos does it take to fill a National Park? First, you need an event. Viking has been doing his "Run around Keji" for the past 9 or so Remembrance Days and that always attracts a mixed crew. Of course, it's nice to have support, so that your vehicle is at the Peskowesk parking lot when you stumble out after 36 miles on the frozen tundra of the back-country. The Sun god organizes this crew of support Gonzos.

While the Running crew always does the same-old, same-old, the Support crew likes to mix it up. This year, we decided to camp on Wednesday night allowing us to be at the start on Thursday, do the cars, bike into Mason's and meet the Runner's for "Tea @ Two". Other years we stay at Mason's or canoe in instead of bike in. Dipper and daughter, Sophie set up camp before dark, and in true Gonzo tradition, Sun god and daughter, Sarah arrived in the dark, in the freezing rain sometime after 11:00 PM. It was a brisk night, and there was a few inches of snow all over tents, tarps and bikes in the morning. As Sarah put it: "When I woke up , it was Winter!". We drove our tea to the start point to pick up Fireball for biking and watch Viking, Stalker, 1K to Go, Jerry, Gabby and five new recruits head out towards Frozen Ocean.

We then lolly-gagged our way back for a nice warm brekkie, broke camp and drove to Peskowesk, mounted the steeds, dressed in warm recycle- ables and meandered our way to Mason's. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. Strong sun drifting in at a nice angle, lighting up all the red leaves and snow-encrusted trees. At Mason's, we did the Remembrance Day quiet time for two minutes, looking across the lake towards many square kilometers of protected wilderness in the greatest country in the world. Then we started a big fire, warmed up and stuffed our faces with all the food we didn't want to carry back out, snoozed a bit, had tea with the Runners (who all looked very good) and biked back to the cars for the sprint back to Halifax.

After the Runners started near Big Dam in the morning, the Hikers showed up, led by Mountain Dancer. Their plan was to hike the perimeter, which takes 3 days. They were hoping that one of the Runners might be able to shuttle their car to Peskowesk. Of course, we were all gone by then, working from the advantage of a true Gonzo start. As luck would have it, Paul (not enough Gonzo sourdough in him yet to get a trailname) and friend were going to attempt a bike- around the perimeter, which didn't work out, but they were nice enough to move the car for Mountain Dancer.

So how many Gonzos does it take to fill a National Park? Considering that our various 'croos doing our running, biking, hiking made up most of the people in Keji yesterday, I say we filled it up. Maybe next year we start the 1st Annual Gonzo Dip in the Mersey River at the last known spotting of the "Suicide Camera".