On the Bus: Sunday morning, our luxury coach travels from downtown Toronto, making stops at the designated pick-up locations. Please put your skis/snowshoes/poles in the cargo hold. If your day pack doesn't need to be accessed during the bus ride up, you can leave it in the hold as well. The bus can get very crowded with limited space for extra gear and clothing with overhead bins full.
On our way up to the trail system, our organizers will hand out the group lists to the group leaders based on the participants' abilities to form a compatible and evenly matched group. Sometimes changes to the groups are made on the bus due to additions, no-shows, or someone feeling under the weather. The end result of the groupings is that the group participants will be travelling at the same speed. Ski groups are usually 6-8 people. Snowshoe groups typically are between 6-10.
The group leaders will talk with each other to find out where the groups will be travelling so that they'll know if they will have broken trail. The group leaders then talk with each member of their group to review the plan for the day, and which stop they will be getting off the bus as there could be a number of drop-off points along the roadway. The organizers announce the plan to the bus, including where the groups will be picked up at the end of the day.
About a half hour before we arrive in the general vicinity of our Five Winds area, there is a flurry of activity as people put on their boots, change into their outdoor clothing, repack their backpacks, line-up for the washroom, so when their stop is called, they are ready to quickly get off the bus, grab their ski or snowshoe equipment from the cargo hold, and head off with their group to start their backcountry adventure. The bus continues its journey to drop off the rest of the groups.
Ski/Snowshoe Adventure Begins:
We'll travel with map and compass through marshes, forests, ridges, trails, wherever the group decides to explore. For some groups, the ski trails are just a guideline. Snowshoe groups travel off trail. There are no chalets or warming huts.
Lunch is in the great outdoors, so out comes the extra clothing while we enjoy the serene scenery around us. The snowshoe groups will sometimes have a small bonfire, so bring your hot dogs/sausages/buns/condiments if you wish to roast them on the fire.
After lunch, it's time to make our way back to our pick-up location. By the afternoon, we usually have organized that we will have broken trail from another group's morning route to make our travels easier back to the bus. We may even see another group or two crossing our paths.
Back on the Bus: Once we reach our pick-up location, we load our gear back into the cargo hold and climb back onto the bus where we've left a change of dry clothes, and extra food and drink for the ride home. Changing into dry clothes feels much better. The organizers will check with everyone to see how their day went; whether they need to go in a slower or faster group the next time out. Maybe a snooze for some, but the bus is usually quite chatty with people comparing their routes, talking with new members or catching up with each other, and a treat or two usually making the rounds up and down the bus. Try to keep your gear organized so when you arrive at your stop you can easily find and collect all your gear on the bus usually in the dark.
Snowshoe Note: Snowshoeing is a relatively new activity for the Club, and we are for the most part pulling our ski leaders to help out with the snowshoe groups until we have dedicated snowshoe leaders. There will be at least one small group snowshoe group each week, so space is limited unless another leader can be found. So book early for a spot in the snowshoe group If you want to become a Five Winds leader please make contact with the bus coordinator or any club executive member before the outing.