When you’re planning an annual event, there’s always a worry that the event will become stale, or that it will be difficult to match the last one, but you don’t want to change too much and mess with tradition.
Tradition demands that we start with dinner at the Redneck Bistro in Calabogie. This wasn’t a difficult one to stick with. The food, as always, was excellent and it was a treat listening to Teagan McLaren (remember the name) play a mix of excellent covers and original music. Let’s call this a win for tradition.
We often refer to our meal at the Redneck as our last civilized meal, but our weekend featured many excellent meals. With breakfasts featuring scromlets, french toast, pancakes, sausages, bacon, hash browns and dinners of Pam’s home made chili and fire grilled fajitas, hunger was not an issue on this trip.
Our stomachs full, and our spirits high we headed for Crag Lake in the dark, another tradition. Night runs are scarce, given how far the trails are, but on this night, light bars, rock lights, and fog lights were put to their intended use. While Crag Lake is a familiar trail to the six of us in attendance, it takes on a whole new personality and presents new challenges in the dark. We had to winch a little and strap a little but we had a great time reaching Crag Lake where we would be camping for the first two nights. Score one more for tradition.
Saturday took us to the south side of Crag Lake. We did this last year, making our way to a spot overlooking the valley to the south. Earlier this year, however, we journeyed west to find the trail to a bluff overlooking Round Schooner Lake. We only made it half way, so we decided this trip would be a good opportunity to push on. Push on, we did. We claimed victory three times. We had lunch in a small clearing with an excellent view of Long Schooner Lake. We pushed on a little further to find ourselves at a small cliff with a beautiful view of Round Schooner Lake and we ventured forward on foot to find ourselves in a large clearing on a shelf with a wide view overlooking Round Schooner Lake 250 feet below. Score one for trying something new.
While we contemplated returning to Round Schooner on Sunday, we opted to stay the course, take the Crag Lake Back Door and head to Sullivan Lake. While the Crag Lake back door can never be called tame, it made us appreciate just how challenging it was getting to Round Schooner. We made it to Sullivan Lake in very good time and decided to push on and camp atop Evergreen Mountain. Another point for the new.
The weather the entire weekend had been ideal. Nice sunny days with light clouds but cool enough to be comfortable. Exactly what had been forecast. As we were wrapping up dinner on Evergreen Mountain, however, Mother Nature threw us a curve ball. It started raining. Evergreen Mountain has a stunning view, but it is a wee bit short on trees and shelter. We quickly strung up a tarp using the one tall pine available at one end and a couple of Jeeps at the other. It wasn’t perfect, but it kept us dry and cut back on the wind. Over the next couple of hours, the rain stopped and started a few times before settling in to rain through the night. There was nothing to do but to break out the cards and play some euchre. This point goes to mother nature.
Monday morning, the rain had stopped allowing us to enjoy breakfast and break camp. Before we could finish, however, the rain returned to make sure everything we packed was wet. With everything else stowed, there was nothing left to pack but our makeshift shelter which we took down and folded up. In the rain. A few minutes later we were headed down the trail and the sky cleared to reveal the sun that would stay with us for the rest of the day.
We made good time down the rest of the trail and were back at the dam by mid-afternoon. We covered five trails over four days, traveled 700 meters of new trail and got to experience some stunning views along the way. I lost track of the score, but I can guarantee we’re all looking forward to doing it again.