February 1-3, 2013
The Mountaineer Scouts helped out this weekend with the Fraser Valley Council’s “Winter Scouting Skills” course for Scout leaders.
Special thanks to Scouter Tim Driscoll (FVC DCC-Scoutcraft) for organizing the event and letting us take the group up into our playground!
Our Winter Playground:
Well, we had time for one last trip back to the ‘Joff before the winter snow begins slowly disappearing from the Mountains.
This time we had guests from Pemberton joining us: Jason Gadd and his son Ben. They had such a good time that we’ll have to find a way of creating a Pemberton branch of the 5th West Van Mountaineer Scouts!
We also had 19-year-old Sam Lotzkar and his friend David join us. They also had an excellent time winter camping for the first time in their lives. Maybe we’ve got our first Rovers for our group?
Saturday morning we saddled up and snowshoed into the mountains. We ate lunch in the sun at Middle Joffre Lake and then continued on to Upper Joffre Lake.
After five camping trips to the park since November, it was the perfect end of a perfect season to finally put our snowshoe prints into the snow on Upper Joffre Lake below the towering Joffre and Matier Peaks and the stunning Matier Glacier!
We took the opportunity to do a leader investiture ceremony on the lake under the glacier for our new leader, Scouter Alan! What a spot for that ceremony! It was like being in a cathedral with the rocks and ice towering all around us.
The weather began socking in and it starting snowing so…with heavy hearts after only a short visit to the “Joffre Cathedral”…we had to turn around and head back to basecamp.
But you can be sure we’ll be back and next time…let’s camp at the Upper Lake!
With all the Scouts in bed on Saturday night, the adults sat in our carved out snow living room and chatted about the day’s adventures.
At 11pm our conversation was interrupted by a sound from high up in the mountains that crackled like rolling thunder for over 5 seconds…something very large, heavy and hard broke loose up there and crashed down the mountain…this was no mere avalanche…it sounded as if half the glacier had broken off.
A good reminder for us to be ever vigilant out there and to take the mountains seriously every time we go out.
UPDATE – 04/16/12: I just got this wonderful message from Jason Gadd regarding this weekend’s trip up in the mountains:
“HI Jody – Thanks for having us. Ben said that Saturday was one of the best days of his life! It was pretty great.”
Welcome New Scout Leader: Alan Dudley
My old friend Alan Dudley has agreed to come on board as a leader with our Scout group! Alan and I went through Cubs, Scouts and Venturers together back in the stone age. He attended CJ’77 in PEI with my younger brother, J.P.
Alan brings a sensible, conservative approach to the backcountry and will be a considerable asset for our group.
Before agreeing to join us, Alan wanted a private weekend up at Joffre Lakes Provincial Park to get his winter camping “sea legs” back.
While not able to attend regular weekly meetings since he lives in Ladner, Alan will be able to come with us on our weekend outings.
I’m happy to report that Alan had a wonderful time and is looking forward to getting all his registration paperwork done and joining us on some of our adventures this year.
There’s less than 19 hours remaining on the countdown timer on the front page of our website!
This will be our third trip up to Joffre this year.
The BC Highways web camera shows plenty of new snow. Who’s getting excited?
We will be out of cell phone coverage for the weekend but we’ll post photos and stories as soon as we get back!
Last chance: Anyone else want to join us?
MEC is updating a lot of its gear (tents, etc.) and it looks like the next thing to be upgraded are its sleeping bags. As a consequence they are discounting their inventory of prior models including my top choice for winter sleeping bag, the MEC -20 Hybrid (it looks like the replacement bag will be called the -20 Phoenix Hybrid and it will be priced quite a bit higher).
It looks like sizes are limited as well as stock but the prices are ridiculously low for a bag of this quality.
Get ’em while they last!
UPDATE #1 – Feb. 7/12: I’m pleased to learn that one of our scouts received a $60 refund today for one of these bags that he had purchased a few weeks ago. Thanks MEC!
UPDATE #2 – Feb. 9/12: They are now down to “Regular – Right Zip” bags only. If you need a great bag for a ridiculously low price…move fast before they’re gone!
UPDATE #3 – Feb. 16/12: Sorry folks….THEY’RE ALL GONE!
I just noticed that REI has MSR snowshoes on sale for 20-40% off.
This is a great deal for anyone in the market for an excellent pair of snowshoes.
UPDATE: Feb. 13, 2012 – Wow….all the “Evos” and “Ascents” are gone!
Mother Nature sure was busy at Joffre Lake Provincial Park since our last camp up there in November.
To see the difference in the snow level at our campsite at Lower Joffre Lake, compare the two photos below of the branchless tree stump that sits at the back of the main camping area (yeah, it’s that little knob in the foreground of the picture on the right). There was about 3-4 feet of snow on the ground in November and another 3-4 feet of fresh pow on top of that during our second trip.
Snowshoes are going to be mandatory for all our future backcountry camps.
UPDATE: Well, as of February 17, 2012…..the stump is basically covered by the accumulated snowfall:
January 21-22, 2012
Since last fall when we heard that there was to be a North Shore Area Winter Camporee at the Cal-Cheak forest service camp just south of Whistler scheduled for this weekend, our troop had been looking forward to getting out in the snow with other scouts from our area. Unfortunately, that camp failed to materialize.
We planned an alternative two night camp for Mount Seymour only to have the weather turn on us; the freezing level raised above the height of all of the north shore mountains and heavy rain was forecast.
Not to worry, Joffre Lake Provincial Park is always ready to greet us with perfect snow conditions!
Unfortunately, as the weekend came near, many of the troop were struck by illnesses and some had conflicts with their commitments.
In the end, Scouter Jason and I decided to head up Saturday morning with Scouts Simon and Max for an overnighter. The normal almost three-hour drive up to Joffre took nearly five hours that day due to the traffic mayhem caused by the overnight storm on the Sea to Sky highway.
We were rewarded for our perseverance, however, with perfect conditions! Mild (-5° c degree average) temperatures, loads of fresh powder snow and blue skies above the mountains greeted us upon our arrival. On Saturday night, the skies cleared totally and we extinguished our headlamps to witness a fantastic night sky above the mountains accented by shooting stars.
Simon and I had new MSR mountaineering snowshoes to making trail blazing and campsite stomping a much more efficient exercise (totally needed with the nearly 4 feet of powder snow that had fallen on our campsite since our last visit in November). Even with 30″ snowshoes on, I sometimes found myself sinking up to my knees in the fresh pow.
Our only complaint was that we didn’t have a second night to enjoy our campsite and the chance to hike higher up into the mountains.
Oh well, that’s what next time is for…
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