After a three year hiatus, Base Camp (The Hobbit) returned to Pine Bay. 16 campers- hobbits, elves and dwarves- set off for adventures in parts unknown. After the trip to William Switzer Park, setting up tents and making new friends on a hot day, the cool lake waters beckoned. (We were all thankful that Graeme MacDonald certified as a lifeguard, the month before our adventure!)
The next day we hiked to Ogre Canyon- several kms of gentle trails brought us to the chill freshness of a mountain stream through a narrow gorge. Able climbers ventured inwards, and were rewarded with a view of the Ogre, a mysterious cave, and a slide down a water chute worn through the rock (Emily W. was the first one down!). After lunch we headed back to the bus and on to Pine Bay, for a dip in the lake.
Each day the hobbits, elves and dwarfs undertook group initiatives, made things with their hands (awesome models of Laketown and the Shire!), learned tandem canoeing with Dan Helm and Mark Armstrong, and were challenged in Hobbit Hour by Heather Liddell, our chaplain. The bay was a centre-point: inviting to swimmers, and to those trying out the canoes and sit-upon kayaks. Some even tried their hands at being pirates – Adam W. and Quincy P. – And a mermaid (Sarah W.) was spotted on several occasions.
Evenings brought campfires and companionship, and opportunities to sleep under the stars. (Some were not put off by the pesky mosquitoes, and slept out two nights in a row!)
Thursday was another glorious day with clear skies, and we were ready to head to Kelly’s Bathtub, in our small fleet of boats, while other campers chose to travel by land. Somewhere along the line we played Capture the Flag- charging through the forest, and then Dragon’s Treasure.
Friday we said good bye to Pine Bay. We broke camp and our bus took us to Jasper, looking for the Lonely Mountain. The skies were hazy from forest fires near Medicine Lake and we were following the forecasts carefully.
We set up camp in the hall of St. Mary and St. George, and hiked up to Cabin Lake on Saturday. Several braved the warm waters of a mountain spring-fed lake, and then surprise rain showers cooled us on the way back down. One camper sprained her ankle on the trail, and checked out the Jasper hospital facilities (thankfully we hear that she is fully recovered)!
The last day everyone pitched in to pack and clean up the hall, and then we shared Eucharist with the congregation of St. Mary and St. George. After a pizza lunch in Hinton we bid farewell to Samantha Hollingsworth, and then with heavy hearts and heads undertook the trip back to Edmonton. Just inside city limits we were greeted by torrential rain, lightning and thunder, and hail! The rain continued and everyone got soaked unloading the bus- goodbyes were wet and brief!
All in all it was a week of new friendships, lots of swimming and water fun, singing, campfires, learning new skills, and great food (thanks to our cooks Scott Iserhoff and Sveta, who was also our resident artist, and the contributions of past-staffer Laurel.) That last campfire will be long-remembered, with Laketown and The Shire going up in flames, and there is a new generation of Base Campers, who traveled There And Back Again.