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. Typically the snowshoe groups will sometimes make a small fire, so bring your hot dogs/sausages/buns/condiments if you wish to roast them on the fire.
After lunch we usually start off and within a few minutes stop to strip down again to our skiing /snowshoeing layers only. As we get closer to the bus pick up location we may see other groups and/or their tracks.
Once at the bus we place our gear below in the luggage area and try to tag it with something colourful so we can find it in the dark once back in the city. Back in your seat it is recommended to change into dry clothes and foot wear so the drive back is pleasurable. Gather up all your gear in a bag early so you don't forget things on the bus once you hit your drop off stop back in Toronto, which is usually in the dark.
The bus coordinator will do a name call out roll call to make sure all the people are present and accounted for rolling out for the drive home. The bus departure time is usually 4 pm early in the season and as the daylight gets longer, 4:30 pm by the end of the winter season.
On the drive back to Toronto some people have a snooze, but most are usually quite chatty with people comparing their routes, talking with new members or catching up with each other. A few members sometimes bring a group treat that making the rounds up and down the bus until they are gone. 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.