Renfrew County ARES

Winter Exercise and Outing
January 2001



With several winter months still ahead of us here in the Valley, ARES Assistant EC John (VA3AJT) took it upon himself to contact Fred (VA3FPB) and organize a winter training exercise for the Renfrew County Amateur Radio Emergency Services group.

The exercise would entail the group spending a day at a beautiful cabin donated for the cause by friends. We would first group at the entrance to a bush road just off the main highway. From this point, using snow mobiles and 4-wheel drive vehicles, some of  the party would be ferried to the cabin, while others would either snow-shoe or cross country ski  some 4 kilometers into the bush along a very picturesque bush road to arrive at a winter oasis. The cabin, or as I like to call it, Chalet, was right out of a picture book. Even the outdoor amenities had a woodstove, that John had already heated upon his arrival the night before.

It was'nt very long, and our Search and Rescue instructor put us to work.

Here is the story as told by ARES members Ron Davies VE3ZRV and Brodie Doyle VA3BDT.

A very sunny day, temperature -24į C. Grid coordinates 165 712 on the Pembroke map 31 F/14.  Location was VA3AJTís cottage highway 62, Alice Fraser Townships.  A very big thank you goes to John from all who attended.  Members in attendance were John VA3AJT, Anthony VE3AJH, Fred VA3FPB, Brodie VA3BDT, Bob VE3GQW, Yvonne VE3RYA, Les VE3PL, Randy VA3RKS, Jamie VA3JRC and Ron VE3ZRV.      Members began the day at 0900 with the 4-Km hike come snowmobile ride in to the location.

  As soon as we arrived we proceeded to pile snow under the watchful eye of Fred VA3FPB. This exercise was performed immediately for two reasons first to complete the hard work of shoveling while we were all fresh and keen, and secondly to allow the snow time to settle for the rest of the morning before we attempted to construct our Quinzee.   Please note- this is the first time we had the privilege of seeing Les with a shovel in his hands.  The next exercise was gathering firewood for lunch, during which Fred enlightened us on how much energy your body uses to convert snow into water.  As it turns out, itís pretty much useless to eat snow if youíre thirsty and dehydrated.      As you can see, there isnít a shortage of volunteers when it comes to making the fire and preparing lunch.  Fred did us proud with the good old Canadian stand-by, soup and hot dogs over easy. ď Oh how sweet it is!Ē     A good hearty lunch provided by ARES topped off with a granola bar.  Thank you Fred.    Next the members were divided into three groups. Each group set out on a short triangular course taking GPS and compass readings for each leg.  The GPS/compass exercise was designed to show members how accurate the GPS is now that the scramblers are shut off. I must admit itís mighty impressive.  The next exercise was one of Fredís scavenger hunts.  OK guys. Go find some Spruce, Red Pine, White Pine, and some Balsam Fir. Oh yes, I nearly forgot. Also find some rabbit droppings and Iíll add an extra bonus.    Interest Tip:  If you make your bed with spruce boughs, you will have a very uncomfortable night. If you make your bed with balsam fir you will sleep like a baby. (Thatís what Fred told us.)   After a very successful hunt  (less the rabbit droppings), it was time to discuss some knots.  Fred and Les demonstrated the Bowline, the Truckers knot and the Fishermanís knot.  A lively discussion about their usage followed.

It was then time to finish off our Quinzee.  The snow that was piled earlier in the day was allowed to sinter for a few hours in the sun in order to make a sturdy and compact structure without melting.   The snow pile was approximately 18 feet across and roughly 5 feet in height.  To prevent digging too close to the ceiling of the shelter, a number of Ďgauge sticksí were placed into the snow pile before hollowing out the living quarters. These sticks allowed us to keep a uniform thickness throughout the entire structure.  The gauge sticks were approximately 12 inches long and were no thicker than a pencil.  Another point of interest: Les was once again seen with a shovel in his hand and digging like a gopher.  Once the Quinzee was hollowed out, all members took turns inside, I must admit it was very quiet in there, even John was able to enter after the door was slightly modified.  The shelter is very practical and comfortable. However, it was noted that it was extremely soundproof.  If you were waiting to be rescued and searchers were calling your name, chances are you would not hear them.  If you were yelling and whistling for help you would not be heard.  One thing should be noted; the radio had no problem working from inside the Quinzee.



Unfortunately our day had come to an end so we finished off inside the warmth of the cabin with Fred conducting a debriefing session, going over most of the points covered during the dayís activities, along with a hot cup of chocolate. Everybody was a little sad to leave but just like the old saying, ďAll good things must come to an endĒ A great time was had by all thanks to John and Fred.


Brodie VE3BDT/Ron VE3ZRV


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