I did a thing I never expected to do today. I led a snowshoe for a group of fantastic women who are all part of the Prince George Adventure Club.
The Adventure Bus created a subset of their company this year, the Adventure Club, and I joined immediately even thought I don't live in town. I love what the Adventure Bus is doing and the knowledge and experience they bring to those of us with less experience when we adventure with them, so it made sense. Even if I made one club trip a year it was well worth the money I paid to join.
The first one I was going to go on was to Livingston Springs in December but I mangled my toe a bit (pretty sure I broke it) the day before and decided it was best not to go. While hiking to Home Lake with my friend I decided it would be a good adventure to take the club on. The hike is easy, but a little long. It's an ~12km generally flat trail with a few little hills that sneak up on you. At the end you reach a cabin on Home Lake.
I've written about Home Lake before. It's one of my favourite local hikes. You can check that out here.
Meg said yes and we set a date! I later moved it to accommodate one of the women in the club who I had met on many other Adventure Bus hikes, and it worked out so perfectly.
Today I met 8 club members (who all happened to be women, it is not a women's only club) in Vanderhoof and led them to the trail head. I was so nervous. What if I went too fast? Or too slow? What is my social awkwardness made it unenjoyable? Meg has referred to me as a puppy before because I typically go back and forth through all the members of the group, taking photos and chatting with them. No one has ever told me I make hiking awkward, but I was concerned anyway. What about safety gear; did I have enough? I had my survival kit, extra water, my jet boil, extra food, tons of layers, and my inReach. I was probably good there. I didn't have a choice, I had committed to leading this hike, so I had to deal with my insecurities and just get it done.
We geared up as the snow started falling and I was sure we were going to get snowed on the whole time. It was warm at least, around 0 degrees, so that helped a lot.
We trekked along, covering the first 4km easily. Snowmobiles had made a very compact path so snowshoes weren't even needed. This always makes me happy. Snowshoes are not my favourite footwear.
4km in the trail turns to parallel the lake through the trees and the snowmobilers had simply sled across the lake. We had to break trail now. There was a narrow trail from a previous user, about 3/4 the width of my snowshoes, so following it was hard. I tried ensuring I was going fast enough but also that I wouldn't fatigue myself too much. I don't think I made that balance but no one was complaining that we were moving slower. It was only a maximum of 2km of this awkward trail breaking on a pre-existing narrow trail and then we were there!
We had lunch in the cabin and people checked it out. It's not a glamorous cabin but it is functional and has emergency supplies in it if you were to get stranded, including a sleeping bag, matches, candles, an axe. People have been keeping the firewood stocked too but we chose not to build a fire. We wouldn't be there long enough for it to warm the cabin for us. Ryley begged for food from everyone and managed to score some treats from some of the women. He's a spoiled dog.
We redressed, took some photos and headed back. The way back was so much easier. Having 8 people compact the trail behind me on the way in made for a great trail back. We hustled through the narrow section and before we knew it we were back at the snowmobile trail! The sun was out, blue skies were showing, it was warm, and we were happy. It was the best hike I've been on all winter because of these factors; most my winter hikes/snowshoes have been in super cold temperatures so this was fantastic. The best part was, I did it. I led a hike. No one got hurt or lost, they liked the pace, and they had a great day. All my concerns were for nothing. I did find it challenging to stay at the front. I wanted to mingle and take photos of everyone the way I usually do, but I wouldn't trade the experience of leading the group for the few more photos I would have taken.
I think by the end we were all fatigued, but we also felt good and recharged. The best part of hiking is how you can feel so tired, but also so alive all at the same time. Even when you're done that feeling of contentment stays with you.
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