Frigid Blackcomb

By Newton

On the icy morning of December 7th, the Discovery boys and teachers, arrived bright and early at the Field House ready for a fun day of skiing. However, skiing wasn’t our only focus; our skills were being assessed in order to determine whether we would be on the backcountry snowshoe or skiing trips. We also learned that we would be meeting with the Blackcomb avalanche forecaster, Nigel, to talk about avalanche conditions and backcountry safety

blackcomb1After an uneventful drive, we arrived at Base II on Blackcomb. From there, we were split into two groups; one group was made up of skiers and snowboarders who hadn’t been on the mountain much, and the other group comprised of boys with more experience.

Not long after the groups split, my group hiked over to the Excalibur Gondola. By the time we got to the top, most of the boys were already frozen numb. It was -16°C! Despite being extremely cold, most of the boys were excited to go down our first run, Springboard. For me, it was a unique experience to see how talented everyone was.

After going down Springboard, we finished our assessment and once again split according to skill level. Both groups decided that -16°C weather was too cold to be out for long and called for a hot chocolate break at the Rendezvous lodge.
At 11:30, we hiked over to the Patrol hut and met with Nigel, the avalanche forecaster. There, we learned about the different backcountry areas that were considered potential avalanche terrain, how ski patrol manages that terrain, and many ways to keep ourselves blackcomb2out of danger. Something I learned from Nigel was that the Whistler side operates differently compared to the Blackcomb side. One difference is when Blackcomb is dealing with build-ups of snow after a snowfall, they only send up 6 patrollers, but Whistler sends all of their patrollers. We also learned about the training that is required to become an avalanche forecaster, something that probably scared a lot of people away from the job. This included completing at least 2 levels of first aid, involving more than 80 hours of learning and countless hours of experience out in the field. After about an hour, we headed back to the Rendezvous for lunch.

blackcomb3After much debate, my group decided that we would head over to Crystal chair for a few runs. This was the best part of the day because our instructor, Rory, let us cruise along the edges of the runs and hit all of the jumps. As we returned to Base II and the bus home, we were all exhausted but the day felt far too short!

The day at Blackcomb really helped refine our skiing and snowboarding skills because it acted as a warm up for many of us. As it was the first day of the year on the mountain for most people, many of us were a little shaky in the morning, but as the day went on, we got better. In preparation for our future backcountry ski and snowshoe trips, I’m confident in saying that the Discovery class is ready for any obstacle that comes our way.

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A Glimpse into First Nations culture: the Stein Valley

By Aaron & Aidan

In the early mornings of the 9th and 12th of November respectively, our two groups of Discovery boys met up at the field house to complete the same trip, back to back. We would meet on Saturday, the 12th, to experience the powwow together.  Our trip was to the Stein Valley – a unique opportunity in Discovery.

dscn1546After packing our group gear, the boys hopped on the bus and began their four-hour drive. On the way, we stopped in the small town of Yale in the Fraser canyon. With a population of a mere 200 people, Yale is a sleepy, forgotten town. In the 1860s however, it was a busy outpost for the Hudson’s Bay Company. At its peak, Yale was home to those who hoped to strike it rich in the gold rush. We participated in a tour of the museum and town and panned for gold.

img_2687-2The traditional powwow we attended was a community Remembrance Day celebration with traditional drumming and dancing. The powwow started with a procession of dancers dressed in colorful, elaborate regalia entering the packed high school gym. The next few hours consisted of different categories of dancers, ranging from toddlers to elders dancing to a multitude of drum circles. Amid the excitement, we had the opportunity to browse and purchase diverse crafts set up on tables around the perimeter of the gym. dscn2043For dinner we ate a buffet-style meal at the community hall consisting of spaghetti, Shepard’s pie, pork chops, steak, bannock, and a special treat: deer liver! Some boys even ventured to try deer liver!

Upon arrival at Fred’s house, we met Fred and Riley, two elders who both survived the residential school system and offered a wealth of wisdom. Both spoke extensively about their healing journeys and their hopes for the future of their people.

While Fred stayed at his home to prepare the sweat lodge, Riley escorted us through the Stein. When we first entered the valley, we had a spectacular view of the Stein river and the steep mountains that surrounded it. We were
img_2539-2instructed to find a stone that stood out to us, while we hiked silently downhill listening to the sound of the river getting louder. At the bottom of the hill was Asking Rock: a sacred spot where the bedrock sticks out of the earth. This rock is used by the First Nations people of the area to ask their ancestors for safety while traveling through the Stein Valley. We transferred any negative thoughts to our stones, and left them behind at the entrance of the Stein at Asking Rock.

For the first time on trip there was time to sit around the fire, carve spoons and listen to Riley’s stories. On our day hike, the group headed up Devil’s Staircase to Fred’s cave, a sacred spot where Fred performed his vision quest, a rite of passage involving solitude and fasting. On the way back to camp, we stopped to inspect a wall of pictographs. dscn1964After spending some solo time sketching the pictographs we headed back to camp.img_2507-2The next day, we prepared to say our farewells to the Stein. Close to the entrance of the Stein, we participated in a dunk, a ritual where one submerges oneself a number of times in water to cleanse the spirit.

At Fred’s, both groups participated in a ceremony known as a Sweat. A life changing experience, the Sweat provided insight into the lives of those seated around the glowing pit of rocks. At each of the four rounds of the Sweat, every member of the group prayed for, or offered gratitude to their family members and loved ones. The first round was dedicated to thankfulness and gratitude, the second dedicated to women, the third to men, and the final round dedicated to oneself. img_2567-2After the ceremony was over, we ate a hearty meal made by Fred and prepared to head home.
The Stein Valley trip was quite different from previous trips, we dove head first into the culture and history of the Lytton First Nation. We were privileged to witness multiple enlightening experiences such as Fred and Riley’s healing journeys and the Sweat. After spending four days out in the Valley, we gained new perspective as we headed back to our daily lives
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Museum of Anthropology

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By Andrew Campbell

On the rainy morning of Wednesday November 12, the Discovery 10 class of 2016/17 headed to the Vancouver Museum of Anthropology to begin our Social Studies unit on Native Canadian culture. This was also a
way to prepare for our upcoming trip to the Stein Valley.  We followed our guide to the main hall where we learned about the different ways img_2007of totem pole carving, each one distinct and clearly belonging to its
respective group. We looked at poles carved
by the Haida and Musqueam groups, amon
others. Each pole told a story.

We ten headed down the ramp to the huge wood
n carving of The Raven and The First
Men by Bill Reid. It’s made of multiple pieces of wood, joined together skillfully so that they look like they’re all one piece. It depicts Raven standing on a clamshell, peering at the First Men hiding from the light. img_2025It tells the story of how Raven created
humans.After we finished the engrossing story we were turned loose into the Museum of Anthropology’s Archives, where many different artifacts, from a Haida paddle to an intricately carved doll from India, can be found. Each one of the Discovery boys had a job: to find an artifact that spoke to them in particular and write about it in their journal. img_2011I found an amazingly braided suit of Papa New Guinean armour, made from strands of hair woven and woven again. Around the middle was a wrap of stingray hide to protect the relatively vulnerable abdomen. According to the placard, the armour was so strong that it could protect against a bullet from a smoothbore musket. Whether or not this actually true I’m unsure of, but the armour certainly looked the business

Then, after we had spent time alone, we came together to learn about First Nations practice of potlatches, huge feasts where chiefs would give away possessions and gain possessions. img_2044Potlatches were huge events, attended by large groups of people, and planned for over a year. After learning about the fascinating practice of
potlatches we headed outside into the now drizzling weather to visit the in-progress totem pole, currently being carved outside  by a Haida artist under the protection of a large tent (which all of us looked at enviously seeing how well it kept the rain off). Unfortunately,
the artist wasn’t there working at the moment, but his totem pole was. It was being carved from a single huge log, and was clearly taking shape.

img_2022Finally, after we picked up some wood chips from the ground around the totem, we all headed back to the bus with our brains full of new information from the endlessly fascinating Museum of Anthropology.

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Soggy Sayward

 

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0815.By Jacky and Ezra

On October 17th, the boys arrived at the fieldhouse at 6:30am and were excited to embark on a five-day voyage to Sayward Canoe Loop. We did our routine of packing group and individual gear into canoe packs and loaded them onto the bus. Approximately seven hours later, we arrived at either Mohun Lake Recreation Site as the two groups parted ways.

Over the course of the next couple of days, everyone participated in a variety of on-water activities, including portaging, canoeing, and one group even had to opportunity to “tarp sail”. Everyone was presented with the technique of soloing a canoe on a portage, but only a selected few were able to master it. The boys who were not able to portage a canoe by themselves either had to either tandem or carry canoe packs. On the third
day, it started to rain so hard that even the students wearing Gore-Tex rain jackets were soaked. It certainly didn’t help either when one group arrived at their campsite after dark and settled up their tents while it was still raining. This trip tested the endurance, grit, and patience of every single one of the students.

Throughout our excursions we had the opportunity to practice an assortment of outdoor skills. These included basic camp craft such as setting up tents and cooking, while also dscn1427giving us the chance to gain some experience in canoeing skills such as learning paddle strokes such as the j-stroke and c-stroke.
Portaging was also something that the majority of us had never done. For those of you who might not have heard this term before, it is when one travels across land carrying a canoe on their shoulders. Prior to this trip, there were those among us who did not even know what it was. At first, it was definitely a challenge to grasp a few of these new skills, but as the trip went on, we all felt a lot more comfortable with our new knowledge.

During each outing, a select group of students prepared and share a mini-lesson that relates to the area we are in. On our Sayward trip, we had lessons on anything from canoes to logging history. These mini-lessons are definitely quite helpful as they shed some light on subjects previously unbeknownst to us. Practical lessons are also learned through experience on trip. For example, where to set up your tent so a running stream doesn’t go through it over night. Or strapping FRU (Freaking Random Useless) onto bigger packs so as to reduce the amount of return trips we have to take on portages. These trips we take are fun; however, they also teach us things through the events that we experience.

img_1875As the groups paddled through small rapids, a low rumbling sound was ever present in the background; it was the sound made by the logging industry. We learned that it wouldn’t be uncommon for companies to completely level large areas of trees. The concept of cutting trees while leaving the area in front untouched is called the “Beauty Strip”. The boys who traversed through the Sayward loop last year noticed that more evidence of logging was present this year. There have been controversies about what people should do with the land, but none of it appears to be resolved.

Taking one last look at the Mohun Lake Recreation Site, everyone got on the bus as everyone fell dead asleep. Next thing we knew, we were at the fieldhouse. Everyone knew that their second multi-day trip was coming to an end. None can deny that it had been an amazing experience for all. The boys looked forward to returning home and getting all caught up with all the work and classes they missed….Said no one ever.

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Discovery South Chilcotins Hike

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By John Cicci

On Sunday September 18, 2016, the Discovery students were prepared, excited, and nervous about their first multi-day trip. As the leaves began to change colour, and snow started to form on the mountain peaks, the students were ready to embark on a very educational and fun journey. It was the first big trip of Discovery.

We started out going on a 7 hour bus ride from Vancouver, and we ended up 80 km west of Lillooet. After that very long and somewhat boring bus ride, the two groups separated and said their goodbye’s to one another and we soon headed our own separate ways.  One group started on the east side of the route and headed up Taylor Creek Trail, while the other group started further west at the Jewel Creek trailhead.

The next few days were filled with a variety of weath
er.  The group that started at Jewel Ck, at a lower elevation, got a large amount of rain.  The group up at Taylor Cabin had the pleasure of hiking through a blizzard!  Despite the challenging conditions, the groups were in high spirits and keen to continue on their intended routes. The groups could be heard singing songs, telling jokes and talking about Harry Potter for kilometers.

We also practiced our camp skills during this trip – cooking, setting up tarps, and learning that sound carries a long way when you are talking in your tent.  We learned how to use a map and compass, take a bearing and read contour lines.

dsc05734On their fourth day of hiking, the weather cleared and both groups experienced the high alpine.  They saw ridges and peaks that continued forever.  Many students pushed themselves and were rewarded by phenomenal views.  One group saw a grizzly bear in the distance, as well, and got to watch it lumber away.  One student, at the end of this day, said, “I have a new life mantra – one step at a time.”

With the end of the trip nearing, the boys were excited for some warm junk food on the way home and to share stories with each other.  The end of a trip can often feel bittersweet – we are looking forward to coming home but sad the trip is almost over, too.  The group returned to St. George’s, cleaned up their gear and headed back home to their warm, dry beds.

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