2005

SPRING TRIP

2005

STEEL LAKE

Monday June 20   West winds, 30-40 k     27 C22e362

The Outers shop doors opened at 7:00AM and revealed the usual pre-trip disaster. Staff Haslam began last minute food packing of frozen food and bacon.  The Outers showed up in force by 8:00AM and the trailer was loaded by 8:45.

At 9:01 the 2005 Spring Trip officially began!

The bus sped along highway 11 to Longlac under the capable hands of Mr. MacOdrum, the fastest driver in the Drajinoff fleet.  At 10:30, the Outers pulled up to the entrance of the first port into Seagram Lake.  This short port was conquered quickly, and by 10:49, the canoeists were on the water. However, several neophytes were present, so extensive canoe exercises were concentrated upon these brave souls. At 11:45, Staff Haslam decided to head down Seagram lake.  Winds were now gusting at 30 to 40 k an hour, from the southwest, so the ten canoes crept down the south shore of Seagram Lake, catching the lee shore wherever possible.

Haslam rescuing a wayward canoe in the wind

At the mouth of Norse Creek, a few last minute partner switches were made to increase efficiency.  The paddle down Norse Creek was uneventful, except for the abundance of loonshit. The water was very low, and the stinky brown muck clung to paddles, canoes and body parts.  

Pulling canoes over shallows on Norse Creek
Greg playing with the loon poop in Norse Creek

Little Mackay Lake was reached without incident, and then the brigades made for the beautiful camping site on the westpoint of Yankee Bay.  At 3:30, campsetting began.  Extensive chain sawing was required to find room for 20 people.

It had been a long hot day, and swimming and lots of water drinking was in order to replenish dehydrated Outers.  The next day loomed large ineveryone’s minds, as a 4:00 AM rising was necessary to beat the notorious winds of MacKay Lake.  Most people were intheir tents by 8:35.  A sleepless nightensued for many, with the drone of mosquitos adding to the anxiety of the next days trials.

Tuesday, June 21      20-24C   moderate north winds

Many of the Outers had never experienced a 4:00 AM rising call before, but they all responded to the call, and breakfast was underway in record time. The campsite is known for its notorious loading and launching.  When Morrin Channel was reached at 6:00AM, Staff Haslam breathed a huge sigh of relief. Five years before, the Outers had been wind bound at Yankee bay for two days.  MacKay Lake demands respect, and on that morning respect was given and received. A slight tail wind pushed the ten canoes down Morrin Channel, into South Channel and across to the portage in Boot Bay by 8:18.

MacKay Lake at 5:00 AM

The port that awaited the students was a daunting one.  It was an old logging road, 2.4 kilometers long.  Several of the students had never experienced a portage before, and this was a significant introduction for them.  It was divided into six stages of suffering, and several of the grade nines struggled with their aluminum canoes.  The launch site was a very steep incline off of McLeod road, and the Outers chain-gained everything down to the cool, green waters of McLeod Lake. 

The end of a 2.5k port.
Chain-ganging

At 3:00 PM we were on the water.  However, the smoke was so thick that Staff Haslam phoned the school to find out of any forest fires were burning closeby.  Information was relayed that the north winds had driven smoke down from a fire up by Marshall Lake, and that the town of Geraldton was blanketed as well.

McLeod lake is a green jewel. It is one of those spring fed lakes full of lake trout. The campsite was a beautiful large site, but covered with a ton of garbage; old chairs, rotting plywood anda bunch of tarps. This is fairly common in areas up here that can be accessed by fisherman.  The Outers got to work immediately, and a massive cleanup effort ensued.  Old wood was chopped up and burned, and the big pieces of garbage were collected into a central pile in back of the site.  The bottom of McLeod lake is a silty, clay type of bottom, not conducive to cleanliness when bathing, but that didn’t stop the sun-baked Outers from attempting to return to a state of refreshment.  Much screaming and giggling was heard as the boys and girls took separate turns washing.  A supper of Kraft dinner and hot dogs was served, and everyone retired to their tents by 10:00pm.

The green waters of McLeod Lake

Wed, June 22    Sunny, 24 C, light west winds.

Staff was up by 5:55 and students were up by 6:00. A great breakfast of oatmeal and bacon was served and camp was quickly packed up. The most common sounds heard in the morning is “I need a Peon over here NOW!”  Peons were seen scurrying back and forth between the kitchen and the tents, doing the most disliked jobs in the camp.  One of the most interesting peon jobs is that of a “tent roller”.  The Tent Roller does not roll up the big prospector canvas tents, but is used as a rolling pin to flatten the canvas down once it is laid flat and folded. Peons are rolled end over end along the length of the fourteen foot tent to squish out any air bubbles or deform.

A leisurely paddle down McLeod Lakebrought the crew to the first portage of the day.  Although only 450 meters long, this port is distinguished by an extremely steep hill at the take-out.  Outers formed a chain gang, and all canoes were unloaded with the gear being passed to the top of the 150 meter incline.

Staff Haslam and Clavet stayed in the canoes and told the Brigade leaders to organize this feat, ensuring that all gear was placed in separate piles next to the proper canoes at the top of the hill.  When the Staff members finally climbed the hill, a torrent of abuse turned the air blue around Trip Leader Haslam as he discovered a huge pile of gear….everyone’s equipment, personal packs and assigned packs thrown together in one massive pile.  Brigade Leader Koroscil took over, escorting Haslam down the trail and then gathering Outers to help her sort the mess outand get the show back on the road. 

Staff Clavet waiting for the port to clear

The end of the McLeod-Twomey port was an interesting endeavour, involving a straight down-hill trail.  Several Outers wiped out, some with canoes over their heads.

Twomey Lake is another beautiful, small Lake in a chain that extends from Seagram Lake to the Steel River. The port out of Twomey Lake to Grehan Lake was only 500 meters long, but a wind storm had gone through recently. The port had been completely cleared the summer before by Haslam Sr. and Haslam Jr., but it was now a mess of fallen down poplar and massive balsam.  Haslam and Outer Greg Rondeau went ahead with the chain-saw.  It soon became apparent that a larger clearing crew was needed, so Peon Rondeau was sent back for assistance.  Meanwhile, Staff Haslam had reached an area about 200 meters long that had been completely obliterated by huge poplars.  A new porthad to be cut around the mess, and was not finished until 3:19.

The end of the Twomey-Grehan port

By now, everyone was starting to get tired.  It had been two fairly intense days in a row, and the usual round of aches and pains were beginning to manifest.  The problem was that there was still one fairly major port to conquer before camp could be reached.  The port out of Grehan Lake into Kawabatongog Lake was a grueling 800 meters.  When they arrived there at 4:30, a mini conference was conducted.  Staff Haslam suggested that if the senior students felt like they could one-time it across the port, then they should go for it.  By this point, the real team building starts to appear or disappear. Everyone was feeling rough, and it was acknowledged that at least two of the grade nines were going to need help with their canoes.  The Brigade leaders worked out a plan to get everyone across as quickly as possible.

Exhausted on Kawabatongog
The girls on the Kawabatongog

Kawabatongog Lake is renowned for sending high winds at Outers, and this night proved to be no exception.  Gusts of 40-60 k an hour beat down on the campsite.  Staff Haslam did an immediate search for potential blow downs near the tents, and the chainsaw was soon whining again.  Because of the high winds, it was decided not to build a fire, as the bush behind the site was feeling pretty crisp.  A large pot of water was boiled over a coleman Apex, and a freeze-dried meal of Chicken Teriyaki was served.  It met with about the same critique as the bacon; love or hate. After supper, it was noticed that one potential dead tree was missed in the “blow-down” search, but since it was hanging over the staff tents, it was decided to leave it; staff were willing to take the risk of disembowelment by tree branches.  Tired students sleep well, but a restless night of shadow watching and acute listening occurred in the staff tent, waiting for the inevitable crack of the branch of doom.

Thursday, June 23  Sunny, 27 C Strong south winds

The winds of paranoia raged all nightas the staff shuddered in their tent, waiting to become one with the jack-pine.  At 6:00 AM when the Outers arose, the winds suddenly dropped and diminished to nothing.  An excellent breakfast of oatmeal and bacon was prepared in record time and the crew was on the water by 8:03.  The Lake that had been torn up by gusts allnight was now a mirror, reflecting trees, canoes and Outers as the canoes plied the placid waters. At 9:00AM, the Outers reached the small stream connected the two lakes, and the ten canoes negotiated this without incident. 

Evonymus is a beach lined lake surrounded by high cliffs on both sides. At 10:16, the Outers reached the mouth of the creek leading out of Evonymus to Eaglecrest lake.  This is a twisty creek with a tortuous route, demanding constant attention from the paddlers.  It was decided to run the stream in section using the walkie-talkies. Brigade leader Goulet brought up the rear as “Little Feather”, while Haslam preceded the group with the handle of “Big Feather”, referring to the insignia painted on the decks of Haslam’s cedar strip canoes.  The bridge over Sun Road South was reached at 11:05 without incident. We were supposed to pick up staff Helkie at his point, but having arrived early, all we found were rocks and trees.

The group continued down the windy little creek until they arrived at the mouth of Eaglecrest. Staff Haslam left the gang in the capable hands of Staff Clavet and Magee and headed back up the creek to pick up Mr. Helkie.  At 12:15 he met Staff Merrit and Helkie with Mr. Helkie’s canoe.  Staff Haslam exchanged his solo canoe for Staff Helkie’s’ flyweight thing and they headed down the river.  Meanwhile, Staff Clavet and Magee had lead the Outers across Eaglecrest to the beautiful campsite on the south side of the lake.  This is one of the most picturesque sites in Northern Ontario, and the students enjoyed a leisurely lunch until 1:35 when Staff Helkie and Haslam arrived.  Unknown to Haslam, the Outers had engaged in monkeyshines. The students went crazy in his absence, and made a secret film about Peon Rondeau, involving hanging, axes, chainsaw and beatings.  Staff Haslam did not see this bit of teasing until September when he edited the video. Secrets!  How 19 people kept it secret for that long is still a mystery to him.

The business of getting back into the groove of moving started as soon as Haslam started cracking the whip, and soon the Head cooks had the new food repacked, and the Outers headed down EaglecrestLake for the Steel River.  Staff Magee spotted a cave on the south side of Eaglecrest, about 2/3 of the way down the Lake, but alas, there was no time to check it out.  (As an aside, Haslam and Magee checked out this cave on the second fall trip, Oct,1, 2005. It is a precarious looking cave, consisting of a very large out crop being held up by a couple of small columns).

The port out of Eaglecrest to the Steel river was reached at 2:40.  This port is a beautiful path, reminiscent of a provincial park trail, lined with ferns and old birch trees. The students flew over the port and were on the water again by 3:44.

At 4:15, the Outers arrived at the junction of the Little Steel and the Steel River proper.  This is a large grassy campsite at the point where the Steel River turns south.  There were several large dead trees hanging precariously over the camp, left there from the fire of 1996. Haslam’s paranoia took full possession of him, and he spent over 45 minutes attacking one particularly large brute. The chain on the chainsaw was ruined on the second day when he hit a rock, and the chain that Staff Helkie brought in did not fit, so cutting was a slow tedious affair.  The monster finally came crashing down, and camp setting could begin. It was not the most advantageous site to hang canvas tents, but imagination and hard work soon persevered.  Under the capable hands of brigade Leaders Goulet and Koroscil, both large tents were strung on a common rope, giving rise to a tent city. Meanwhile, Staff Haslam and cook Kranj went ahead and cleared the port through the burnover of 96.  This is quite a challenging port, and is only now returning to a normal state after the fire. An hour and a half later they returned, sweaty and bug bitten.  Therapids just above the junction became the favoured bathing site, as some thoughtless fishermen had thrown all of their fish carcasses into the waterjust off the landing of the site.  A fantastic supper of rice, hamburger and vegetables was served.  The energy was high this night, as the fulleffects of an easy day sunk in.  Campretired by 11:00.

 Friday June 24   West winds 20 k, 28C

Thunderstorms crashed into the camp around 2:30 AM. The rain fell hard and the lightening continued to light up the tents for the rest of the night.  At 6:00 AM, Staff Haslam delivered his usual round of wake up calls.  Staff Helkie and Clavet claimed to have heard a sow bear and her cub sniffing around during the night, but Haslam spotted a chipmunk that was the likely culprit.

A slow fire began with fresh eggs and sausages on the menu.  Peon Jaiph Albu distinguished himself by eating 11 sausages, while Peon Abernot came in a close second with 8.  The greasy little treats were hard to pass up, but many of the girls were revolted by them.  

Campsite of the sausage contest

Porting began at 8:00 AM.  This port is perhaps the nastiest of the entire trip.  It consists of two ports linked together, starting right from the campsite to the small pond before the last port into Steel Lake.  In 1996, it was burned in a huge fire that consumed most of Steel Lake.  The port is now in various stages of regrowth and destruction. The total combined length is over 800 meters, and it is very challenging.  On this occasion, the Outers staggered and struggled through oppressively heavy heat.   Many experienced Outers collapsed under the weight of their canoes as the hilly and treacherous port took its toll.  For the inexperienced, this port would leave a long lasting memory of pain.

The Girls “hauling it” on the Burnover port
The Girls “hauling it” over the Burnover port

The water was very low this spring, and at the end of the port, another chain gang was necessary to get everything down the hill and into the canoes.  At 10:30, a short paddle across a pond brought the Outers to the very rough landing for the last port into Steel lake.  Again, due to low water, a chaingang was formed to get everything over the treacherous rocks. 

By 11:30,the 20 Outers were seated on the rocks at the beautiful site overlooking Steellake, eating pita, peanut butter and jam. 

Lunch at the end of the last Steel Port
Paddling down Steel Lake

Launchwas achieved at 1:30 into a west wind of about 20k.  Outers hugged the west shore to keep out of the wind and made excellent progress down Steel lake.  Three breaks occurred before the camp in the large west bay, about halfway down the lake was achieved at 4:38.  This campsite has always been a bug-hole, rife with blackflies, mosquitos and noseeums. This year proved to be no different. Another double tent set-up on one ridge rope was completed to take advantage of the limited real estate, while supper was delayed until the heat abated.

Supper this night was new on the menu; smokies and Lipton Sidekicks.  This proved to be a popular meal, except for the smokies, which were cooked over the fire to the consistency of petrified dinosaur turds.  However, consumption in Outers-land has always been more about quantity than quality, and the blackened, hardened turds were consumed with the frenzy of piranhas in a guppytank.  Swimming did not occur at this site, as it was a swampy, soggy place where exposed skin was quickly turned into a bloody pin cushion of pain.  The dirty, sweaty, colon-plugged Outers retired to their tents by 11:00.

Saturday, June 25  Sunny, light west winds, 27C

Brigade Leader Slade Goulet was appointed the person in charge for this day.  He was asked by staff the previous day to get the kids up at 6:00, but at 5:45 he had Outers scurrying from their tents.  Tents were down by 6:15 and breakfast was served by 6:30.  Brigade Leader Goulet set a  blistering pace down Steel lake, refusing to stop despite the pleas from the arm weary Outers.  Sweat dripped, blisters popped, muscles strained and paddles snapped as the Flying Goulet churned up the waters of the Steel.  Finally, a break was called.  However, the usual five minute break (usually fifteen minutes) was actually five minutes, and then Slade was churning up the water again like a paddle wheel poker boat.

At 11:30, the brigades pulled into the beautiful beach on the east shore just before Boat Cache Bay.  Immediate dismay began to rise among the Outers who had been here before. Instead of the pristine crescent of sand, there was a garbage strewn beach, complete with steel boat rollers and a multitude of beer cans.  Upon inspecting the usual tent site, an ugly moose hunters cabin was found, poorly built, with several large trees being destroyed in its construction.  The reaction of the students was to tear it to pieces, but the Staff prevailed, and it was left standing.  (Staff Haslam phoned the Terrace Bay MNR.  It is still being researched – MNR is hoping to catch the people responsible for it during moose season)  The cabin had a large signon it: “Mooseknuckle Lodge”.

StaffHaslam and Clavet decided to search for an alternate campsite.  Mooseknuckle lodge looked like it had been recently occupied, and with tempers running high, a confrontation between the occupants and the angry Outers would have resulted in a possible brouhaha. 

Bay after bay was searched by the staff, with a couple of emergency sites being spotted.  Sites large enough for 20 people are not easy to find.  A trail on the west shore across from Boat Cache bay was discovered.  Staff followed it back in the bush, and several minnow traps were found.  These were obviously the property of the small community living at the boat cache on the East shore.  In the past, there were three or four boats cached at this spot. On that day, Haslam counted thirteen. There was also the incessant drone of at least one generator, that ran day and night.  The once relatively isolated Steel lake was another casualty to roads and ATV’s.  

Boat cache on Steel Lake

A group consensus was reached to stay at the beach site.  Motor boats buzzed by for the entireday.  Staff Haslam and Assistant Brigade Leader Stephanie Koroscil paddled out to the new road between Steel lake and Cairngorm to meet Stephanie’s father who had graciously volunteered to drive the four hours for a food drop off.  On the paddle out, Haslam attempted to flag down a motor boat, but they completely ignored the 17 1/2 foot canoe that paddled along side them.  The food pick up was completed at 3:30, and Haslam and Koroscil arrive back at the beach at 6:00.

Sunday, June 26  strong south winds, 27 C

The 6:00AM rising was punctuated with the exclamations of Haslam’s curses as he discovered that the firemen had not prepared any firewood for the morning.  The trip to Cairngorm has always been a very long day, and the slow down created by the new cutting of firewood had added and additional hour to the day.  The staff was not impressed.  A breakfast of sausages and fresh eggs was prepared to an absolutely delicious standard.  Peon Jaiph Albu only managed to swallow 8 sausages on this day, disappointing the cheering crowds who wanted him to shatter his previous record of eleven. Outers launched at 8:11 and reached the port out of Steel lake at 9:11.  This is a short, nasty port full of rocks and water.  Staff Helkie had to be rescued from a tailspin into the bushes by Assistant Brigade leader Koroscil. 

The new road and port around the bridge was reached at 10:35.  This is a tolerable port through the Burnover from the most recent fire on the Steel. Outers who had completed this trip in 2002 were shocked by the changes caused by the recent fire.  The entire south end of Steel and North end of Cairngorm was burned in the fire of 2003.  Stephanie Koroscil had hidden a case of pop in the bushes from the food pickup the day before, and when everyone had  finished the port, she magically produced cans of Coke for the entire crew.  Many strange noises were heard emanating from the pop-addicted few who had not had a carbonated drink in several days.  Paddling recommenced at 11:30.

Early morning Steel Lake

A short paddle brought us to Esker lake, which was now unrecognizable.  This small lake had once been a beautiful hill lined jewel, but was now a stark landscape of white bone-like granite with the spikes of blackened trees puncturing the horizon.  A lone poplar with a huge eagle nest stood out on a distant hill, a sentinel of destruction. Esker lake was crossed quickly and the creek leading to the port into Cairngorm was attempted.  Paddling only worked for a hundred meters, as the low water necessitated dragging.

The Creek was remarkably clear of obstructions, and the dragging was quickly over. 

Walking up creek to Cairngorm port
The boys hard at work

This port once had a very picturesque but buggy campsite that looked across a placid pool onto a waterfall.  The view now consisted of a mass of tangled trees and bone white rocks.  The problem with these ports through burnovers is that there is no shelter from the sun, and on hot days, everyone bakes.  This day put everyone through the oven.  As the Outers consumed their lunches, Staff Haslam and Clavet went ahead and cleared the port.  Porting began around 1:00 and Outers were onthe waters of Cairngorm at 3:00. 

Peon R. Fauvelle distinguished himself by finally carrying his own canoe for the entire distance of the port.  Assistant Brigade leader Zehr greatly assisted the loading process at the Cairngorm end by sacrificing himself to the depths of loonshit to preserve everyone else’s semi-clean state.

The Northend of Cairngorm Lake, once a jewel of the north, was now a Zeller’s Zirconia. 

Burnover porting
Chainsaw Kayla
The old man working

The fire had turned the entire North end into a duplicate of Steel lake.  As if this wasn’t enough after a fairly strenuous day, when we turned the corner to travel south on Cairngorm, a headwind of at least 50 k an hour greeted us. The tired Outers crept along the west shore, and managed to avoid the worst of the winds.  However, when the beautiful campsite on the west side was reached at 6:25, everyone was “pooped”.  Lots of chainsawing was necessary to clear spots for the two brigade tents, and many dangerous leaners were felled.  The reason for all the fires has become apparent to the Outers. The timber along Cairngorm and through to Diablo has gone beyond amature state.  Every shoreline looks like a hurricane has gone through, as trees lie scattered about like a box of dropped tooth picks. 

The mealof Kraft dinner and hotdogs was greeted with luke-warm enthusiasm.  However, there was a beautiful beach at thebottom of the site, and much swimming and cleanliness ensued.  Camp retired at 11:00 PM.

What not to wear
Cairngorm Campsite

Monday, June 27..rain overnight, foggy morning, clear during the day    25 C Moderate south winds

Five thirty AM is a strange hour for many teenagers to get up, but this crew was always ready to go.  Rain greeted the Outers, and a kitchen tarp was quickly erected. By 8:17, both brigades were underway, paddling into a slight headwind.  At the entrance to the Narrows of Cairngorm, canoes were spotted up a rock face.  People soon became visible as well.  It turned out to be a party of four from Minnesota.  They were quite surprised to see such a large crew of dirty degenerates this far into the bush.  Their faces registered mild dismay as the kids shouted out “Give Haslam a cigarette or something to slow him down”.  Relief was probably the best description for their expressions as we paddled off down Cairngorm.  No doubt that strains of banjo music occupied their minds as they watched the bedraggled crew paddle off into the morning mist. 

Port one of the day was reached at 10:05.  The landing for this port is on a large beaver dam at the far end of Cairngorm.  The port is a short affair with a nasty little rock garden through a creek in it.  Visions of Diablo port were going through theminds of the Outers, as jagged rocks and ferns began to sprout up with frequency.  By now, everyone was very capable, and even the grade nines could carry their canoes for the duration of the port.  The last canoe was on the water of the small pond by 11:15, and a two minute paddle brought the Outers to the beginning  of the next port.  This has always been a nasty little port, and the water conditions had made it worse. The water was low and the loonshit was high.

Assistant Brigade leader Bundie, who was developing a penchant for Loonshit, stepped out of his canoe onto a firm looking mound of grass, and quickly discovered that loonshit has no bottom.  Black and stinky from waist to foot, Bundie decided to take advantage of the situation and hunt for bullfrogs.  The bullfrog hunting wascut short when Trip Leader Haslam returned from chainsawing to find a crowd of spectators observing Bullfrog Bundie bounding through the bog.  Haslam’s tirade added another foul odour to the already putrefied air, and the Outers quickly resumed porting.

The port was finished at 12:30, and the crew sat down to lunch.  The end of this port has always been the traditional lunch site for Outers, because it is the only piece of bug infested real estate between Cairngorm and Diablo large enough to support twenty people.  Cherry jam on pita’s turned out to be very popular, and lunch was consumed with glee.  By 1:15 the small pond had been traversed, and the last port into Diablo Lake was begun. This port of 860 meters was fairly challenging, with some steep hillsand a couple of mud holes.  However, by now the crew was tough, and no halfway stage was needed.  Everyone toughed it all the way over, and by 3:30 all ten canoes were sitting on Diablo Lake.

At 4:30, the favorite island campsite on Diablo Lake was reached.  From the water, it was apparent that the island had undergone a recent change.  It seemed thinner and sparser, like an old man losing his hair.  A quick survey of the island revealed that this old man’s hair hadn’t been combed in a while.  A blow down had gone through within the last year.  The island was a mess of tangled trees, roots and rocks.  The combing process began in earnest with Haslam behind a whining chainsaw and several Outers manning the axes and hand saws. The amount of work that was completed by a ten man crew in a two hour period was amazing.  A total island makeover was completed as logs were cut and cleared and tent sites emerged.  Two canvas prospector tents roseup amidst the disaster, and trails through the logs were cut for bathrooms.  By the end of the clearing process, both the Outers and the chainsaw were running on fumes.  A supper of freeze dried Pasta Primevera quickly restored everyone’s energy, and swimming and fishing quickly became thepriorities of the evening.

Clearing Diablo Island
Girls tent on Diablo Island

In 2002, Outer Jeremy Lush had captured minnows in a bug hat with bread in it, and then caught two speckle trout from the campsite shore.  In keeping with the tradition, Haslam provided two bug hats and some pita, and the minnow catching began.  Assistant brigade Leader Stephanie Koroscil quickly became the supreme minnow catcher. She demonstrated the patience of a blue heron as she crouched in the water for over two hours, bug hat posed at the ready.  Twelve minnows were plunked into the waterbucket by Ms. Koroscil, and the fishing took off.  Trout were everywhere around the island, and everyone received a number of aggressive hits. However, only Staff Haslam was able to land any, and within fifteen minutes of fishing, he had two nice specs ready for the frying pan.  Brigade leader Goodman cleaned and cooked them, and they were spec-tacular.  Staff Clavet was hearing thunder all night, and clouds suddenly rolled in.  A massive camp cleanup was undertaken, but the storm never materialized.  By 11:00, snores were the only thunderous sound to be heard.

If only all days ended like this!
The Girls on Diablo Island

Tuesday, June 28  Rain overnight, overcast, stiff north winds  21 C

Camp arose at 6:00 AM, and a leisurely breakfast unfolded.  The need to rush had ended, because the Outers were returning to Cairngorm to meet the bus at the new road above Esker Lake.  The ports were already cleared and everyone knew what to expect. Traditional Diablo portraits of the girls and boys were taken by Cheryl and the canoes were loaded.  The crew was hardened and experienced, and on this day they proved it.  Diablo Island was left at 9:00 AM and the port was reached at 9:35.  Outers were now climbing up the height of land to Cairngorm, but they moved withsure-footed speed.  The entire port was finished in under two hours, which was no mean feet for twenty people, ten canoes and countless packs.  The remaining two ports were completed with the same amount of efficiency, and Cairngorm Lake was reached by 1:30. However, a nasty surprise awaited the crew; north winds were blowing at over 50 k an hour.  The Outers had to crawl along the west shore, finding the lee of every small cove.  Turning around points was an adventure in skill, as students kept their canoes within ten feet of shore, while navigating over three foot swells.  A tired and arm weary bunch arrived at the campsite of two days previous at 4:00 PM.  Because the site was already cleared, the senior Outers took this opportunity to let the peons set camp and tents.  By 5:30, the tent city was up, and Kraft dinner was once again on the menu.  It was a night of stories, as cook Kranjc regaled everyone around the fire with the stories about the quirky characters in Beardmore.  At 11:30, lights went out and everyone was asleep.

Wednesday, June 29  moderate north winds, sunny with cloudy periods, 22C

Haslam woke the crew up with his usual friendly morning greetings at 6:00 AM.  However,the morning was to take on a life of its own as the events that occurred around or in the girls tent during the night occupied everyone’s thoughts.  The event, known as Doc Dean’s Ghost Attack, shall remain forever locked in the Outer’s vault of secrecy.  Due to the strange nature of the morning, takedown proceeded slowly, and Outers weren’t on the water until 9:00.  The paddle up Cairngorm was, of course, accompanied by head winds from the north. The plan was to find a new campsite in the North end of Cairngorm.  It is never easy to find sites large enough for twenty people, and since the entire north end had been burned the prospects were grim.  Just after the narrows, Haslam got momentarily turned around taking a short cut behind the islands, and led the Outers back to the mouth of the narrows.  The probable cause for this event was sugar intoxication, as the crew had consumed two huge bags of jujubes about a half hour earlier.  Once the bearings were reestablished, the crew was parked on one of the burned over islands, and Haslam and Brigade Leader Goulet set off in search of a campsite.  Many islands were checked out, and prospects were looking grim.  However, upon circling the only island that hadn’t been burned, a small cut tree was noticed on the shore.  Someone had cleared a small space on this island.  Further investigation revealed the possibility of a good campsite.  The rest of the crew was brought over, and the chainsaw whined while Outers cleared bush. Within an hour, a very nice site was created. 

Island campsite on Cairngorm

A supper of freeze-dried was served, and then the traditional promotions took place.  Students earn promotions through hard work on the Spring Trip, and they really value the elevation of rank.  Nobody relishes the unenviable starting position of Peon, so the promotions were much anticipated.   The following promotions were given:

Outer                                      Existing Rank                       Promotion

Slade Goulet                         Brigade leader                      Head Brigade Leader

Mike Goodman                     Brigade Leader                     Brigade leader

Sharlene Koroscil                Brigade Leader                     Staff

Chelsea Hunking                 Assistant Brigade Leader   Brigade Leader(Head Cook in Charge)

Stephanie Koroscil              Assistant Brigade Leader   Brigade leader (Head tent setter for girls)

Brandon Zehr                       Assistant Brigade Leader   Acting Brigade leader

Sara MacIver                         Head Cook                            Assistant Brigade Leader

Nikki Fauvelle                       Head Cook                            Assistant Brigade leader

Greg Rondeau                     Peon                                      Head Fireman

Trent Abernot                       Peon                                      Head Fireman

Savannah Kranjc                 Peon                                      Cook

Kayla Leslie                          Peon                                      Cook 

Lenay Hunking                     Peon                                      Cook              

Curtis Wilson                        Peon                                      Fireman

Robert Fauvelle                   Peon                                      Fireman

Jaiph Albu                             Peon                                      Fireman

Cooks and Fireman can get a promotion to Head Cook or Head Fireman dependent on completion of two fall trips.

Much celebration occurred after the promotions were given, and the smell of cigar smoke turned the air blue.  The boys decided that they were going to sleep under the stars, so they put a tarp on the ground and dragged their sleeping bags out. Only four lasted the night, as the bugs were atrocious.

Thursday, June 30 rain, gale force north west winds, 15 C

Staff Haslam woke up at 4:00 AM to the sound of wind whipping through the trees above.  The tents were set up under some very large birch trees that had seen the better part of their days, and Haslam had a paranoia fit about trees falling on tents.  Outers were woken up with a voicefull of panic and impending doom, telling them to evacuate their tents and packup.  Visions of bodies impaled by tree branches had the Outers scurrying like rabbits with a fox after them.  By 5:00 am, all canoes were loaded, sitting on the lee side of the island, trying to decide what to do.  The Northwest skinny arm of Cairngorm was virtually devoid of wind, but there was a 500 meter stretch of water with large waves that had to be crossed to reach the lee. After sneaking around a couple of islands, staff decided the risk was minimal and proceeded to the lee shore. A furious paddling struggle ensued for some of the Outers, as the windblew them around like feathers. Eventually everyone made it to the sheltered lee side, and then the windturned around, and propelled us up the little arm of Cairngorm. Upon entering the port, one of the Outers found Spanky, discarded in the bush.  Spanky had been Haslam’s paddle in 2002.  It had broken and been left on Diablo as a testament to Outers, but somehow had found its way to the port out of Cairngorm.

The port was executed in record time, and the Esker Lake Road bridge was reached by 10:30 AM.  The weather was still atrocious, so a large wind shelter was set up in the burnover, and cook Sara McIver made peanut butter and bacon pittas, a strange sounding but delicious combination.

The worst part of any trip is the end, waiting for the bus that never seems to get there.  Finally, at about 12:30, the bus arrived.  The Esker Lake road was little better than a rock garden, and progress was very slow.  In fact, the entire trip home took seven hours!  It was a hellish ride, where the stink of eleven days in the bush was confined to the small cramped quarters ofa 3/4 size bus and percolated by twenty dirty bodies.

The busarrived at the Outers shop around 7:00. The tents were hung, dishes cleaned, packs put away and paddles stored for the summer.  Another Spring Trip had come to an end, but plans for next years were already underway.  Dickison Lake back to Geraldton!  

The Survivors!

-Mr. Haslam