Monday, March 9, 2009
The last couple of weekends I have been out with the Outdoor Recreation students from Brock University practicing our winter camping skills. We spent our time in the beautiful beech-maple forests of central Ontario near Dorset. Each weekend was quite different not only because of the diversity of each group, but particularily the weather. During the night on the first trip the temperatures plummeted to a chilly -30 degrees celcius and for the second trip it hovered around the freezing mark. On the first trip, the students were quite happy to have the shelter and insulation of the monstrous quinzee that they built for the second night. It had room for 8 people comfortably! While it was negative thirty outside it was a 'balmy' 0 degrees inside. What a difference! On both trips most of our time was spent learning how to set up and maintain a proper winter camp along with the many lessons of how to stay warm. We also had time to explore the bogs and hills of this area looking for signs of the local wildlife that live in these forests. Some of the tracks that we saw included Fisher, marten, flying squirrel, raccoon, Blue Jay, Red Squirrel and some old wolf trails. We also got to investigate the many bear claw marks climbing the beech trees looking for the tastey and nutritious beech nuts. One group had the magnificant experience of hearing the wolves howl as they combed the hillsides and bog lands looking for thier main source of food -- The white-tail deer. They even responded to the howls of the students as they tried to communicate to these majestic animals of the Canadian Wilderness. I'm thankful to have had the time to spend with this group of people and look forward to many more successful winter camps in the future.