It was a dark and stormy day.
It was a great weekend. It began as all Gonzo events should. With a meal- at Sunnyside this time for their breakfast special. We all
gathered there at 7 AM
This small band of merry Gonzos included for this trip "Pack it in Pack it out" Wayne Banks, Malcom "Mountain Goat" Pain, Bruce
"Sun God" Duffy, Greg "Fireball" Vail, Bruce "Dipper" Murphy, Mark "I'm selling Halifax" Stein, Norm "Dunker" Stein, and yours
truly Gordon "Viking" Warnica. Of course with visions of a meal cooked by someone other than Sun God, Nancy "Birder" Duffy
couldn't pass up this breakfast. At 8:00, we all departed Bedford for our annual winter Kedge hike.
At the registration centre, the clerk asked us if we had skis? No. Snowshoes? No. 8 of us? Where were we going to sleep? Oh outside.
She just said "Oh, OK"
"You know we are forecast for 16 to 20 cms of snow." Imagine snow on our winter hike, wow sounds good. We have never had snow
on our winter hike . When we started these, it was always hoping for snow. We had thought of renting snowshoes one year we had even
thought of getting cross-country skis one year but we had never had to do that as we had never had snow. The thought of snow actually
added to the anticipation.
By 10:00 we were on our way. With a 20 km hike ahead of us, there was no need to hurry. It is kind of nice on this hike because the
first 8 kms have markers every km and you can measure your progress and see your time per km. You know runners a 12 minute k then
a 11:55 k and before you know it, you are at the cross-country ski shelter and 8 k have whisked by. OK first guys there get the stove
going and start hot water.
Everybody gets out there lunch, some have sandwiches some have hot dogs etc. With a little trading back and forth (not unlike
elementary kids trading lunches) We all leave semi satisfied for the next 12 k to the cabin. Now it should be noted that this trail is all on
a well graded woods road, so it is 10 or 12 feet wide and you can 3 or 4 abreast and talk quite easily.
By 2:30, we all in to the cabin at the fire tower, and there appears to be a light amount of snow falling. Quickly the brave ones start to
set up outside for the night.Stalker is the first to get his "shelter" set up. It is the very basic lean-to with a sheet of plastic strung
between two trees and sloped to the ground. Open front and open sides.
Dipper and I'm selling Halifax do the next best and actually seem to have sides and a front. The Sun God has found a perfect leaning
tree and puts a tarp over it and hangs down each side. The Viking and Mountain Goat go for the simple and straightforward. Put up a
small tent right next to the cabin so as to be sheltered from the wind.
Supper. Ah one of the highlights of any Gonzo event. Some had noodles, some had rice, some had soup, I had KD with a couple of
chedder sausages in it and Pack it in Pack it out had a pre made meat pasta thingy that he shared with the floor. I know we were all full
as we kind of laid back for a rendition of "The Cremation of Sam Magee"
Viking attempted to get his tape recorder to work for some outdoor cassettes but to no avail.. We managed to stay amused with
sparklers and Caramilk bars until it was 8:00PM. Oh yes By now it appeared that it was snowing for real. There were 3 or 4 inches of
the lovely white stuff down and it didn't seem to be letting up. With the obligatory bragging about who was going to be able to stay out
(it was -15 C) and all bets down, we then retired to our little nests in the snow.
Arising at 7:40, I found that it was a little snug in our tent as the snow seemed to have hemmed us in. We attempted to kick the snow
off of the tent from the inside and then tried to get out. After a short struggle we got ourselves extracated and found out that there was
now 16 inches of that lovely white stuff. Into the cabin for breakfast - oatmeal, eggs , coffee and more coffee.
By 9:00, we were ready for the 20 k hike out. It was nothing short of one of the best days of hiking I have ever had. It was still snowing
and the trail had lots of over hanging, snow laden, branches to guide our way, we took turns leading and breaking trail and during some
of the whiteouts you could only see a step or two in front. Not a creature had ventured across the trail before us. I think they thought
they could wait out the storm. We, of course, didn't have that option.
Before we had gone 2 kms, it became obvious that Sun God had "bonked" again. He was moving but at a greatly reduced rate of
speed(?) Absolutely no energy. I slowed so as to not leave him "way" back. At one Stage with a big lead I put my pack down and went
back. Even after I took his pack, he felt no change. With a k to go to the shelter help arrived and took my pack in.
After a lunch of hot dogs or soup or whatever, We heard the welcome sound of a snowmobile. Help had arrived. The warden had broke
trail for us for the last 8 k and offered a ride back for Sun God after he had checked on some kids back at Mason's Cabin. By 4 we were
all out to the cars and then began the hard part of the trip. Driving home. It only took 4 hours to do the normal 2 hour trip what with
snow on the roads and All "Fine" Weather Tires and caution. We did all get home safe and sound and we all did finally get a winter
hike that had snow. It was fantastic and only adds to the range of skills we keep adding to our repertoire.