Sechelt Inlet: An Introduction to Sea Kayaking

By Justin and Ezra

On April 11th 2017, the Discovery students headed out on their last journey before the looming Year-End Trip; a three day “immersion” into sea kayaking in the Sechelt Inlet. We arrived at the Field House at the ungodly hour of 5:30am, burdened with our IKEA bags and full of excitement for the day to come. We hopped off the bus onto the shores of the Sechelt Inlet to the warmth and loveliness of a bright sunny day – a rare luxury for the Discovery group. After we had thoroughly pet the two friendly dogs that greeted us onto their beach, we gathered in our groups to learn the basics of Sea Kayaking and the jigsaw puzzle that is packing our items into the two or three hatches available to us in the kayaks.  At around 11:30 we hopped into our kayaks to begin the journey to our respective campsites, with Ms. Bell’s group at Nine Mile Point, and Ms. Lutes’ group at Oyster beach, about 2.5 and 2 Nautical Miles away. Our first kayak was one to remember; the sun shined, spirits were high and we laughed all the way to Nine Mile Point. As Ms. Lutes’ group set off on their first paddle, they got the exclusive opportunity to see Ms. Lutes’ childhood summer home. They had the chance to see an ancient petroglyph and a very relaxed seal (he was adorable!). Ms. Lutes’ group decided to stop, before reaching camp, and enjoy an afternoon meal on a nearby sunny beach; where, I might add, they beat BOTH instructors on getting packed up and on the water (the first time all year!). The final task of day 1 was practicing wet exits in the ocean! We only could watch from the beach as every one of our group members voluntarily flipped themselves into the frigid ocean — and it certainly was cold. The anxiety of flipping was probably the worst part of the exercise! By the time that it was time to flip, everyone mentioned how refreshing it felt!

For this trip only, we were tasked with cooking meals for all 11 members of our group — which turned out to be a greater challenge than some of us expected. Notable meals in Ms. Bell’s group included Julien, Mark and Ryan’s ‘real’ cheesy bacon spuds breakfast, which involved the packing and preparing of around 20 real potatoes, and Arjun’s “birthday” cakes after every dinner.

Day 2 was a cloudy/rainy day, but at this point in the year that weather is the norm for the Discovery Class of 2019. After an early morning breakfast, both groups set out to explore an abandoned bible camp about 4-5 Nautical Miles from our respective campsites. After a relatively short paddle, (and a couple of seal sightings!), we made it ashore to the eerie looking campground. Cracked windows, rusted machinery, collapsing buildings, this camp did not follow Leave No Trace principles! It felt like the beginning of a horror movie, as a group of unsuspecting students ran through the abandoned campsite — under an ominous blanket of clouds. To our relief, our kayaks had not been untied by the ghost of bible camp, and we enjoyed a couple games of “Ha So Wa” before moving on. Ms. Lutes’ group did not have the same opportunity to explore as extensively as the others did because the instructors were worried about the wind and decided to turn around early, with only time for a quick peek. Even though the wind cut our trip short, it also provided an unexpected opportunity to go surfing. The wind had raised the waves just enough for the group to try kayak surfing. Unfortunately, it was not very successful, though very fun. Throughout the day we learned more important kayaking strokes and were introduced to the complexities of nautical charts and navigating on the open sea. At open share, the realization that this is the last trip before the year brought up a lot of reflection. It was incredible how quickly the year has passed, and a lot of us reflected on how much these trips has meant to us this year.

Overall, our three day trip to the Sechelt Inlet was an excellent introduction to sea kayaking, and prepared us both physically and mentally for the Year End Trip. We now feel a lot more confident about being out for three weeks as we have now had experience in both sea kayaking and hiking trips.

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Jack’s Vlogs

Hi, for those who don’t know me, I’m Jack Abramowich and for the last two trips I have produced a VLOG (video log). Basically, throughout the trip I would film all the significant events and edit them all into one video that summarized our trip. Many people take photos on trips but I wanted a different way to relive these amazing experiences. I hope you enjoy and get a better insight of what it’s like to be a Discovery student!​

Manning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jcf-q062t0&t=25s

Elfin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bY6DY5Brj5U

Skaha: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFsYA81NcD4

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Skaha Bluffs: Hanging on by the Edge

On March 28th, one day after spring break had ended, the Discovery boys took off for another exciting trip into the field. It wasn’t too early of a start: we were expected to arrive at the field house at 7am. Our trip involved a five hour drive to the Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park where we would spend the next 5 days rock climbing and hiking. The entire Discovery class (minus Matteo) would be together this time, our second trip together as an entire class.

When we arrived in Penticton, we visited the Penticton Archives Museum. What it lacks in size it makes up for with information on the city of Penticton and how it came to be. In the museum, there was one thing that caught the eyes of every boy: the topographical sandbox. According to our museum guide, it was the only one in Canada. We found the topographical sandbox very interesting because it could detect when the sand was being moved and would change the topography of the box when someone moved the sand around.

On the second morning we woke up to rain drops dripping onto our tents. In case you didn’t know, climbing on wet rock is extremely dangerous and not at all fun. Because the rocks at the bluffs were soaked, we took a quick trip to the Penticton Community Centre where we relaxed in the hot tub and played a game of water basketball in the pool while the bluffs dried out. Then it was on to rock climbing, the main reason we were on the trip; it seemed so abnormal that we didn’t even start climbing until the second afternoon out in the field!

The first afternoon of rock climbing consisted of heavy wind chills on the Daycare wall: not a great first impression of rock climbing; nevertheless, the boys overcame the bitter cold and scampered up the wall. Thankfully, the winds died down and allowed us to enjoy the last hour of climbing.

On our third day, the weather cleared up while the sun was shining through! With this in mind, the boys hiked into the Redtail wall ready to give it their all. As this was our first full day of climbing, many of the boys found it challenging to climb all day. By the end of the day, most of us had completed four or five climbs: a hefty amount for amateur rock climbers. The highest rated climb at the redtail wall was a 5.9 on the Yosemite decimal scale (refer to the rating system).

On our final day of climbing our guide, Russ, brought us up to the Grassy Glades wall: a 35 minute hike from the parking lot. This wall was filled with an abundance of climbs varying from 5.7 to 5.11a! While the 5.11a wasn’t set up, there was a 5.10c ready to climb. Many boys attempted it throughout the day, but no one managed to climb to the top: except Ms. Bell. She made it look easy when she climbed up the crux while the boys were left to stare. (crux – The toughest move or sequence of moves on a climb)!

Another challenging climb that many of the boys attempted was a 5.9 which involved a crack in the bluff; most of the Discovery boys had never encountered this type of climbing before; however, we had another rock climbing guide on the trip to help us: Josh. He specialized in crack climbing so he was able to teach us numerous techniques such as the hand jam, fist jam, and etc. This made getting past the crux much easier and inspired many boys to attempt the obstacle. While climbing up was still extremely challenging, getting to the top was awfully rewarding because the view was amazing! At the top of the 5.9, you had a 360 degree view which showcased Skaha Lake and the city of Penticton.

Later on in the day, the group went rappelling off the Great White wall Not only was the view breathtaking, there was also a 40 foot free fall during the rappel; it was truly an experience of a lifetime. Even boys with a fear of heights attempted the 50 foot rappel, and loved it. Everyone wanted to go again; sadly, time was winding down as we were forced to return to camp.

On our final day, we were woken by our alarms at 5:30am. Because it was the last day of base camping, we needed to pack everything out, including tarps, tents, pots, pans, and etc. We also did NOT want to arrive late as we were meeting Howie Richardson, author of the Skaha Rock Climbing Guide Book, and going on a nature hike around the 1200 climbs that exists at the Skaha Bluffs. As we trekked around the bluffs, we learnt about the history of the place, and how it was discovered 30 years ago by Russ, Howie, and a group of friends. It was amazing that we were able to meet the founders of the Skaha Bluffs!

We waved goodbye to sunny Penticton and prepared for a long, uneventful five hour bus back to Raincouver when suddenly…BANG! Everyone on the bus was awoken and curious as to what had happened. We would soon find out that we had blew out one of our back tires. Unfortunately, we were 40 kilometers from the closest town, Merritt; however, our bus had eight wheels, so we were able to crawl to Merritt on 7 wheels. We arrived safely and relaxed in A&W while the tire was replaced. As we concluded our enjoyable yet unpredictable journey, all of the Discovery boys reflected on how thrilled they were to have discovered rock climbing, and what the next trip holds.

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New Friends On Cypress

By John

Another trip in Discovery has come and the boys were eagerly excited for this one. This time, there were girls on the trip from the Crofton House Challenge program. Their Crofton Challenge program is very similar to Discovery, and provides outdoor leadership opportunities to students at CHS. This being our final winter trip, the students from both schools were stoked to finally be done with the excessive amounts of snow and rain we have gotten this year so far. We all hope this changes very soon.

This trip was also a Cross-Country Skiing adventure, a new activity for most students in the group. What we finally got up there after a short drive of gruesome weather, we got our skis, and boots and started to practice with our guides. During this time, the Crofton girls slowly started too funnel out of the rental building, and we all joined together in a bunch off small groups. The teachers from both schools were sure to assist in the immersion of the boys and girls together in groups. In the morning half of the day, we practice our techniques with our guides, and learning the fundamentals of cross-country skiing. After a rendezvous at one of the lodges, we shuffled the groups and continued our excursions. After we became confident with this new sport, we hiked all the way to the top of the small hill in which the trails were situated on.

Just from this small day trip I can tell you that cross country skiing is a very hard sport for any individual. The endurance, and skill needed to plow through the powder (since it was heavily snowing), and up some huge hills with no chairlifts on such tiny skills is a long and difficult process to learn. Of course, anything can be achieved by anyone. After we trekked back to the lodge, we indulged our selfs in some delicious hill side food, and we caught up and socialized with our new friends from a different school. After long line-ups, and long eating time, we managed to get ourselves outside to put in one more run

as a group. We went for a free-ski with anyone during the afternoon although it was significantly shorter then the morning. After this short free ski, in many groups, we headed back down the mountain to return our rentals and say our goodbyes. We disembarked after a fun and somewhat shorter then expected day of skiing with new friends.

Even though Cross country skiing is a very hard sport, I would like to have this experience again with the boys, and the girls. It was fun, challenging, and enjoyable for all, and I would defiantly do it again soon.

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Chinatown Tour: A Look Back Through History


By Aidan

On January 30th, the Discovery class had a unique cultural tour in one of Vancouver history-rich neighborhoods: Chinatown. We began our tour at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen classical chinese garden with an introduction to Thomas, our guide. Thomas had a wealth of information of all things in Chinatown. He launched our tour explaining to us that the garden was built to replicate a scholar’s garden during the Ming Dynasty. The garden would’ve been a place for a scholar to think, reflect, contemplate or even observe the stars. The class broke off into small groups and wandered the winding paths, observing the asymmetric arrangements of rocks and plants and admire the courtyards. After we reconvened, Thomas explained the political system China had in place for hundreds of years: a meritocracy. This system awarded government positions based on merit; any citizen could write a exam, and the top performing scores were given positions of influence. The impact of this system is still felt today as Chinese culture puts high priority towards education.

After our view of the garden, the class walked through Chinatown to arrive at Newtown Bakery, a staple in Chinatown that has been serving authentic Chinese food and baked goods for 30 years. The boys broke off into separate groups, ordered and thoroughly enjoyed their lunch filled with good food and company.

Back on the street, we began our walking back towards the bus. Thomas pointed out notable buildings, explained the immigration to the area and significant events in the neighbourhoods history. All the while, we took in the unique architecture that exists in Chinatown. Finally, Thomas explained that one day he hopes that Chinatown will return to the cultural hub that it once was, fully alive with the traditions of old. Overall, the Discovery class found Chinatown’s rich history enthralling, we were awestruck with the unseen side of Vancouver.

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Gear Review: MEC Revy Gloves

By Andrew

Before we left for our first winter trip of the year, Manning Park, I did a complete overhaul of my clothing for the trip and realized that the loves I had worn for Ski Day were probably not going to cut it. So I went to theDiscovery boy’s second home, Mountain Equipment Co-op to buy some more things for Discovery…again.

Since we were supposed to be building snow shelters, I purchased two pairs of waterproof gloves (The MEC Revy gloves), and one liner pair that I didn’t think I would need. I wore them in the cold weather of Manning, and in the even colder weather of Elfin Lakes, Garibaldi Provincial Park, and before I even begin talking about these gloves, let me point out that I was assured my gloves would get wet and I would need a second pair. I never even opened the second pair of gloves. There was no need at all for them.

The MEC Revy gloves are described as “Warm ski gloves ready for Revy, Whistler or wherever else the snow leads you.” on the MEC website. The gloves are coated with a waterproof layer on the outside, and on the inside have very thick padding on the back, and slightly thinner padding on the front, to ease the use of ski poles. Though I wasn’t skiing, I certainly appreciated the thoughtful touch added by the MEC equipment designers. The ability to grip with all my fingers made digging our snow caves at Elfin easier, and it also made gripping my hiking poles easier. Important, as we were hiking upwards for much of the trip.

The only minor complaint I had was that the gloves do not have an attached sleeve, so occasionally, snow will enter the wrist area. This isn’t so much a problem if you don’t crash much, but in my case, crashing every three or four minutes when skiing, the snow entering gets old quick.

In the end, the MEC Revy gloves kept my hands warm and dry, so much so that I did not need to unpack my second pair of gloves.

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Journey to Elfin Lake

By Ezra and Jacky

Going into this trip, the boys had already experienced a portion of what winter camping has to offer during their time in Manning Park. Even though we arrived at the fieldhouse at 6am, everyone was buzzing with energy, ready and eager to go. We all loaded the bus and headed out to Garibaldi provincial park, watching the sun rise and grace the city with a brief respite of warmth in this year’s cold winter. After approximately two hours on the bus, the
entire cohort was at the parking lot, divided into skiers and snowshoers. We left the trailhead at different times with the skiers going first as they had to go double the distance the snowshoers did.
As we embarked on our new journey, we quickly realized that it was not as cold as most had originally thought. Some members of the group ended up hiking up in their t-shirts! As the skiers were traversing the backcountry to reach the Elfin Lake Hut, the snowshoers had already reached their campsite and had started to construct their snow caves. Needless to say, it was a long, arduous, and grueling task. Being stuck in the snow for hours, most of the group didn’t finish their caves until after sunset. They worked in the cold and dark for hours on end. The skiers finally arrived at the cabin after 11km of ski touring and, thankfully, beating a massive storm system that had moved into the area. Due to this
approaching storm, the decision was reached to not sleep in the caves the snowshoers had painstakingly built and instead were forced to seek emergency shelter in Red Heather Hut.

The two groups finally crossed paths again after what seemed like the longest day of their lives. The fabled snowshoers trekked through forests and snow-covered fields to reach Elfin Lake Cabin in almost a total white-out. Rain, sleet, and snow hailed down on them from every direction. They had no protection on the barren landscape of the alpine. The danger of avalanches present every gully and slope they traversed; it was at this moment that instructor James took out a ghastly abomination of a poncho as his last resort. Finally, they glimpsed the cabin in the distance. Relief washed over the group like the snowstorm around them: refuge at last. On the other hand, the ski group had been sitting comfortably in their warm and dry cabin, huddled around a table playing Risk.

We did our mini-lessons at the beginning of our third day. With all the chaos of travelling and setting up camp we hadn’t had the chance to do them yet. Afterwards both groups headed out for a couple hours of fun in the snow. The snowshoers went a little ways up the trail to a hill to do some extreme sledding. They also had the chance to have a brief lesson from James, their guide, on safe and unsafe terrain. The skiers went in a different direction to go hit the slopes and ski down some fresh, untouched pow. Going down was the easy part, coming back up was another matter. When both groups came back for lunch, the local weather report came in. There was going to be a brief respite in the storm in the area and the snowshoe group leaders decided to leave the hut that day so as to bypass the storm. The skiers, since they were a lot faster, decided to remain until the following day. The snowshoers made it back to Red Heather hut just before the sun set. They managed to complete their snow shelters before the daylight faded. The skiers, back at the Elfin Lake hut, slept outside in their quinzees. As the snowshoe group prepared to go to sleep, the last of the trip, they spent a moment looking at the striking night sky, a black canvas sprinkled with infinite constellations.

On our final day, both groups had a similar story. The snowshoers woke up in their snow shelters while the skiers in their quinzees. Since we hiked back to Red Heather Hut the day prior, our final trek was a lot shorter compared what the skiers had to go through. As soon as we saw the parking lot, we sprinted as hard as we could and arrived at approximately 12:15. On the other hand, the skiers were still making their way to Red Heather, which was an 100 meter incline. The boys who had the fortune of arriving early were all changed and dry when the skiers wearily reached the bus. This trip had been nothing short of extraordinary; it brought us closer together, like a brotherhood.

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Gear Review – Gaiters

By Andrew

In Discovery, we do lots of walking, often through mud, snow, or rain. Since rain boots and snow boots are impractical for hiking, the only alternatives to getting mud, snow, or rain in one’s boots are gaiters. On our first trip, the Chilcotins Hike, everyone in my group had their gaiters. However, the other boys had MEC Kokanee gaiters for the most part, while I had Mountain Warehouse Highland gaiters. My gaiters held up well enough when we were hiking through rain and some light mud, but once we reached snowy areas the advantages of the MEC gaiters became clear. The Mountain Warehouse gaiters were made of a thin  and flimsy (and I suspect not all together waterproof) fabric, whereas the MEC gaiters were made of dependable Gore-Tex. Since the snow wasn’t melting, the waterproofness of the gaiters wasn’t ever really an issue for me.

However, the MEC gaiters had still more advantages over their flimsier counterparts. Let me explain. When it’s cold out (exactly gaiter weather) one doesn’t want to remove gloves and get the warm, soft, vulnerable flesh of the hands wet and cold. Solid velcro allows a person to fasten or open their gaiters even with gloves on. The MEC gaiters only had velcro, and nice wide strips they were. The MW gaiters had a metal zip up along the front.
This might not be a problem if I was hiking in a more temperate climate, but every time I wanted to open or close my gaiters, I found myself sharp zippers. I’m not sure what use these sharp zippers had (Theft prevention? Bear protection? Who knows?) but they certainly existed, as my hands could attest.

 

And finally, the third and last advantage of the MEC gaiters and probably the most important. The purpose of gaiters is to keep mud, snow, and water in the form of rain out of the hiking boot. This is accomplished by having the gaiter extend beyond the lip of the boot and go down a bit more, to ensure dryness of the foot. The MEC gaiters were long and well-suited to the task. The MW gaiters decided that keeping things out of my boots was boring, and they quit. I’m not sure if it was the cold or what, but about halfway through our hike through the snow the gaiters quit on me and refused to cover my boot, if they had ever been doing that at all. This was a serious problem, but there was no way to fix it in the middle of a snowstorm, and no need to later that day at Spruce Lake.

 

After my disastrous experience with the Mountain Warehouse gaiters, I immediately switched to the MEC gaiters my friends possessed, and even after spending most of my Manning Park trip thigh-deep in snow, they have thus far succeeded in their job of keeping snow and mud and rain out of my boot. The disgraced MW gaiters were relegated to a corner of the closet where they can continue to contemplate their complete failure of tactics. I highly recommend the MEC KOKANEE 2 GORE-TEX GAITERS from Mountain Equipment Co-op.

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Manning Park – A Winter Wonderland

By Aaron
Under the cloudy skies on January 15th, 2017, eighteen eager and keen discovery students began their first winter outing. Under the supervision of Ms. Tutsch, Ms. Lutes, Ms. Bell, and Mr. Hesketh, the boys began the long bus ride to their new home for the next three days: Manning Park. This trip would be the first time the whole Discovery cohort camped together since the third night of he Chilcotins in September. Naturally, high spirits and excitement permeated the group.  This trip was intended as practice for their future winter trip.  The main focus was learning avalanche safety skills.  After arriving at the campsite, the boys would have to tread through snowy terrain to greet their home for the first day, Lone Duck 2. Lone Duck 2 was a winter shelter that had a wood stove and a couple of picnic tables.

After setting down their gear and finishing lunch, the boys would have their first lesson ofthe day: how to use transceivers, shovels, and probes. The boys would also learn the “Boot Dance,” an activity done with a partner to keep yourself warm.

After practicing how to search for missing persons, the instructors set up a testing ground
to assess the boys. While testing was progressing, the rest of the boys were starting to learn how strenuous gathering water was. Without an available water source the first day,
everyone had to melt snow to create water, a tedious and dull task.

After testing had finished and dinner was eaten, the boys slept in the chilly cabin of Lone Duck 2. Illness had also permeated the group and some members weren’t feeling great. In low spirits, the group began their hike.


Unfortunately for the group, they didn’t make it to their intended destination due to time, weather, and objectives. Instead, the group decided to turn back and spend another night at Lone Duck 2. This meant that the group wouldn’t be able to practice building snow shelters, something everyone was looking forwards to. On the way back, the group practiced how to find multiple people with the Tracker 2 transceiver using the Special Search mode. After, the group spent a while playing around in the snow and testing each other.

As the sky darkened, the boys headed back to Lone Duck 2 and spent their last night there, eager to head back home the following morning. Despite not sleeping in shelters they made, the boys were glad that they had a nice, dry night in the cabin rather than in slushy snow domes. In the morning, the boys had their last test of the trip, this time seeing if they could find multiple transceivers hidden in the snow. This procedure took many hours, but after everyone had finished, the boys packed their bags and began the long ride home, concluding their first winter outing.

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Discovering Nature

Declan writing in his journal.

Declan writing in his journal.

By Jacky

Sit spots is a way of connecting, or rather discovering nature. It gives someone the opportunity to be away from the civilized world of technologies and to reflect in a peaceful place, alone. What people chooses to get out of these experience is purely up to them, for factors such as emotions, environment, and influences can drastically change the mood of sit spots.

Personally, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There were ups and downs, and even times when I despised being at my sit spot. My experiences were often affected by how I felt or what was happening in and outside of school. For instance, logs done when the weather was favorable was far more “positive” than logs done when I was utterly exhausted.

By forcing myself to go out there almost once every week, it was interesting to look back and reflect on my rollercoaster journey. At first, I didn’t take this concept seriously. It was just one of those things that didn’t feel important to me; however, over time, I found my sit spot to be one of the only places where I could sit and reflect on whatever that was coming through my mind without the distraction of the sophisticated community. Undoubtedly, I didn’t begin to write an essay every time I went; there were lots of occasions where I would settle for a simple drawing of a tree branch or leaf. This whole experience wasn’t a complete waste of time, nor did it work wonders for my take on the environment; instead, it created a much-needed balance between the two, and I think that’s something we all need in this chaotic and occupied world.

Here’s an excerpt from one of my only positive sit spot logs:

 

October 13th, 2016

The sound of raindrops is evident as I write. Not much as changed since my last visit: the sun isn’t shining, the wind’s blowing, and the birds are chirping. There’s a rugby game going on at school, so the screams of boys create an unsettling force on the environment. It’s thoughts such as, “are the birds communicating?” and “are there bugs beneath this leaf?” that makes sit spots “special”. It’s always nice to just stare into nature and let your mind be free of all struggles and stress back home.

This mature community, this forest with its perfect imperfections is what makes sit spots special.

The birds are what make sit spots special.

The rugby game going on is what makes sit spots special.

Every time you go, you never know what new environments nature is going to present to you.

Go out, go explore, go be you.

You are part of this world; this world is part of you.

Go.

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