This past July, I had the privilege of volunteering in the trail rider overnight (TRON) program with two participants, their families, fellow volunteers, and Power To Be staff. The trip was an extensive trek through the wonderful wilderness of Strathcona Provincial Park. Earlier this year, a practice hike up Mount Finlayson took place to prepare for the terrain that we would face in Strathcona.
This trip was history in the making for Power To Be, as it was the first time that two TrailRiders had been sent into the park for an overnight expedition. It was much anticipated by the participants, and had been over a year in the making! As we set out from the Raven Lodge on Friday morning, everyone was full of excitement and enthusiasm.
Typically, for backcountry camping, you pack up your bags once and hike into the woods. However, this hike was a little different. Our first trip from the park entrance to our base camp at Lake Helen MacKenzie consisted of carrying in gear for setting up camp. For our second trip, we met up with participants and their families and loaded up the rest of the gear, including some creative ways of packing the TrailRiders with camp chairs, life jackets, and sleep mats.
Our team had a variety of experience levels with the TrailRider, ranging from beginner to seasoned veterans (one volunteer had taken a TrailRider to the base of Mount Everest). We quickly found our flow as a team and solid teamwork and communication helped us navigate the TrailRider successfully through rooty and rocky routes, over obstacles, and across boardwalks. We successfully arrived at Lake Helen MacKenzie and set up base camp before an evening of games, stories, and laughs.On our second day, we hiked further into the park for a day trip to Kwai Lake where we enjoyed a delicious smorgasbord lunch and some impromptu alpine lake dips. Other notable moments included many belly laughs, an inflatable pineapple, nosy whiskey jacks, games, trail names, and the most gourmet alpine dining menu we had ever experienced.
At the end of the trip, we hiked out back to the parking lot where we reflected on the past three days as a group and what stood out to us. The two most prominent themes that emerged were gratitude and trust. The trip would not have been possible without the trust the participants put in us, and we were all grateful for everyone’s openness, vulnerability, and full participation. At the beginning of the trip, we were a friendly group of Power To Be staff, volunteers, participants, and their families. By the end, we were a dynamic, bonded, well-oiled TrailRider machine.
Before heading back to Victoria, we also brainstormed future destinations for TrailRider expeditions. Now that we had conquered Strathcona, where to next? The North Coast? Hawaii? Who knows. We learned that with trust, teamwork, and patience the possibilities for are limitless.