The day began a little earlier than the other days. It must be said that this Tuesday will be a busy one. First of all, we have to leave our shelters and we’re on a bus back to Mont Lyall for a few minutes to set up our village for the next three days.

Now, we’re in the Chic-Choc Wildlife Reserve. A short two-kilometre hike through the snowy firs led us to our camp site. Fortunately, we have two snowmobiles to carry the bulk of the equipment. Although Karl and François have already prepared the place, we still have a lot to do. But first, we must have lunch to regain energy, and above all, we must walk around with our snowshoes to “tap” the snow.

Then, Catherine lays out the plan for our future tent village and we break up into a team depending on the tasks to be done. The plan goes as follows:

  • Build a kitchen corner out of snow, that is, dig a big hole and build walls, build counters and storage spaces from the available material … snow.
  • Set up the big dome which will become our dining room and living room; it’s the same dome that we set up two days ago, and we have to shovel the inside to make a bench all around it inside.
  • Set up 5 prospector tents that will be our dormitories. These are large tents with a wood stove in them to keep us warm overnight.

And there you go, the tasks are distributed, and it’s in total harmony that everything has been organized. As if we had been working together for years, we dug, shovelled, sawed wood, tapped the ground, made knots, planted stakes, shovelled again, stretched ropes and, above all, laughed a whole lot. Jayden gave high fives to everyone, Alexandra showed how to make knots, everyone helped each other. And we finished our camp just in time for sunset. How proud we were to see this little village we built.

Although the temperature is mild, the cold is slowly being felt. Now is the time to change to dry clothes and prepare for supper. Together in the great illuminated dome in the heart of the forest, we talk while enjoying a delicious meal. We are so lucky to have Charles with us, our private chef! Tonight’s menu features chili con carne with her corn bread. It is good to warm our bodies and minds. Then, we share our best moments of the day. The pride in the work being done is unanimous. Angel remembered the good memories of his summer camp. Georgi tells us how happy he is to see that he can still learn and experience new adventures. This day gave him hope for the future. Alexandra is also more confident about her eventual return to work; Catherine really laughs a lot today, especially when she has to cut a board in two equal parts with Nicholas … not always easy to measure when winter camping.

We are getting ready for our first night outside. Personally, I have always enjoyed sleeping out in the open!

Chantale Lecours, Photographer and Blogger for On the Tips of the Toes Foundation.