This trip was a combination of two things. Some of my friends were scout leaders of a older teenage group which had their last camp planned (Audax). I needed a bit of training before venturing out in the Adirondacks for my first real winter camping.
Since this was a scout group, the destination was the local scout camp Awacamenj Mino. More specifically, the Refuge de Champlain which my friends had built a few years earlier. (Insulated single open room, wood stove, no electricity/water) Basically it’s a place you can warm up indoors, with a few tables and chairs and you can set up your sleeping mat/bag on the floor. For a scout group its a perfect place to make sure no one freezes and offers shelter.
The Refuge is also hike-in only (maybe a kilometer or two from the parking), in winter snowshoes or skis are required. It’s a good simulation of an actual backcountry expedition.
We went through the usual getting our gear ready, getting a feel for some of the equipment, how to operate stoves etc. We went out snowshoeing too to get a feel for things, explore a bit and have some fun.
But this one trip was special, from what I understand, due to a combination of low enrolment and scout leaders moving onto other challenges, this would be the last trip for the Audax scout group. We had a bit of a ceremonial burning of a group T-shirt signed by the members. This was complete with a firework ignition and thus pretty darn cool.
What is memorable for me from this trip is two things. First, we played Axis and Allies 1942 (the board game) for many hours at night time in the Refuge. Second, we had a bit of an idiotic competition at night.
We all stripped down to our boxers, with only booties on our feet and walked outside standing side-by-side without moving to see who would fold first and go back indoors. We were shivering like mad, laughing, saying jokes but no one wanted to give in. We checked the weather the next day and it was something like -23C at that time. We stayed out 5mins, 10mins, 15mins… no one moved still at the 20 min mark we all agreed to go back in together. Still laughing and joking around. (It is really weird how your body at some point just kicks up the heat).
After that trip, we were all ready to tackle the Adirondacks!
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