Our first trip was in October when the ‘fall’ colours were out in all their fiery sass and it was to be a hike circling a lake, spread out over three days. Yes, that’s right, camping.
Two essay submissions and a week later I was stood on the ‘sidewalk’ with a rucksack the size of me, waiting for my ride and feeling pretty excited about seeing some nature. WHOOSH, a bright yellow school bus hurtles past me, kicking a puddle of dirty water and soaks me head to toe.
Eventually, my red Chevvy chariot arrives and the two Canadian girls in my group fuss over me, calling me ‘gurrl’. The impossibly good looking German, snowboarding, post grad in the backseat just laughs. We embark on our road-trip and quickly discover Taylor Swift or ‘Tay Tay’ is the only crowd pleaser (the German had some impressive moves to ‘Shake It Off’ and apparently looks gorgeous doing anything).
We arrive at the first campsite, high on ‘Tay Tay’ and Five Guys. The other groups had arrived earlier and lit a campfire,set up the tents and were passing round beers and ‘smores’. This was my kind of weekend.
Fast forward to 3am and I’m running frantically between tents barefoot and drenched for the second time that trip, asking if I can squeeze in with strangers. Thanks to the drunken Danish lads that put it up, our tent cover had blown away and we had been sleeping under a mesh sheet in torrential rain.
Packing my soggy sleeping bag the next day, my enthusiasm had been dampened somewhat (pardon the pun). This didn’t last long though because it is hard to resist feeling completely awe struck by the stunning scenery the Canadian outback has to offer. The lakes were impossibly blue and the views took my breath away (although, that might have been the hyperthermia setting in).
After a steep hike I was relieved to hear word being passed back that we were approaching our second base camp. Of course, this involved abseiling down a cliff face with a rope and descending onto an exposed rocky beach. That night we couldn’t bare lighting a fire, so we ate our trail mix cramped inside the tent despite the ‘WARNING! BEARS IN THIS LOCATION’ signposts we’d seen suggesting we didn’t. Apparently they are quite good at smelling food, and you know, eating humans.
After another nights sleep spent convulsing from cold inside a sleeping bag supposedly suitable for -40 arctic conditions I stumbled out of the tent and was confronted by a total whiteout. Of course, my first Canadian snowfall would have to be while I was 10 hours from civilisation and camping. We were delirious, cold and exhausted but somehow, we made it back to the cars, put ‘Tay Tay’ back on and shook it off. It was one of the best weekends of my whole exchange.
University Western Ontario Outdoors Society By Tessa