we went wandering. we went wandering on what happened to be a day of so much wind and precipitation that 70,000 people on the island and in vancouver lost their hydro power, and the mt.washington ski hill closed for the day because there was too much snow (this makes me laugh so hard). my best guess was that it would be about a 5 hour hike, which is what i told ben. we were going to cross the river at the footbridge and find our way through a rough trail to a clear cut and then the logging road network, then walk along the main until it crossed the creek emma and i found last summer. the goal was to follow the creek downstream all the way to its confluence with the river, then walk back along more logging roads with bits of bush-crashing interspersed when necessary. i printed out some satellite pics from google maps, as those are the best maps one can get of the ever changing logging road/clearcut terrain. we started out from the car around 12:45, which, when i think about it now, realize would not have us back to the car by dark. or it would, barely, just without a margin for error. but i wasn’t thinking that at the time. i left nanaimo the earliest i could, so we worked with what we had. and 5 hours was only an estimate, when i guess times for things, i usually add time on to what i really think the time is, so there is built-in slack. so really, i thought we would be fine (ha ha ha). on the main, we passed over two creeks right before we took the bigger one that i suspected was the correct one. it w a s fairly wet out, so we didn’t stop for too long any one place, keeping up a reasonably steady pace. i know in the past i have gone on and on about how i love it in the woods, so i won’t continue going on and on here. just let me say, it was gorgeous in there. despite the rain and grey and wind, of course i loved it. in the summer the creek was so tame and low that it was wadeable. this day however, it was rushing. even if i could have made it across depth-wise with gumboots on, i wouldn’t have trusted myself in its speed. on the way down, we crossed about 7 smaller creeks flowing into the main creek, one of which had a stunning little waterfall! i wondered to myself how many human eyes had ever seen it. eventually it started to get dark but i still wasn’t recognizing anything. walking the creek in the opposite direction than i had come before, i assumed i would at some point recognize the previously travelled territory. but when we checked the time, it was 1/2 an hour to sunset, somewhere in unknown woods along a creek, and pouring. we decided to cut overland back in the direction of the bridge, knowing we’d hit a logging road eventually, and hoping we’d end up following it in the right direction. so we stopped to pull out snacks, the compass ben thankfully borrowed from a friend (i’d left mine on the wee island) and his headlamp. he also asked me to pull out the extra batteries from the bottom of a stuff sack, because his hands were numb from the cold. i asked how many batteries, two, three? and he said eight. i had a moment of – whaaaaaaaat!? this is a ridiculously un-economical headlamp! until he clarified that he’d just bought eight, but we only needed three. i couldn’t stop laughing over this. i think the approaching darkness was making me mildly hysterical.
there is a flaw in thinking of the great expanse of uninhabited woods across the river as my backyard. i am the ultimate preparer for trips, i have a safety emergency-supply fanny-pack that i never take off when i’m on the water while canoe-tripping, but when i think of a place as my backyard, i slack off…
we had the one headlamp because i thought ’nah, we don’t need two, we’ll be back way before dark’. i had the maps i’d just printed out, but no map-case to keep them dry. i brought no water, no matches, very little food. luckily ben was more prepared than i was and had the food, water and compass covered.
so it was past sunset, the rain was pouring down, i had no light, my glasses were both covered in rain and fogging up from body heat and i was thinking: well, this would be a great time for a cougar attack, i can’t see or hear a damn thing. we were supposed to make it back to d & k’s by dinner time because we had a games night planned, and were already later than i had thought we’d be. at one point nearing the end of the hike, when we were bush-crashing through darkness in the direction i knew we were supposed to be going, ben stops short and says, i think i just smelt a prince mushroom. at which point i erupted into laughter, thinking of saying to denise, “sorry we were late, we were picking mushrooms in the dark.”
coming home this weekend, i picked up the sheets of 9ft metal roofing that were waiting for me at the hardware store. as i was walking down to the ferry, harry was shaking his head at me. the ferry folk hate these sheets of metal roofing because they are so sharp. despite that, harry took the time to show me how to do a rolling hitch to attach them to the railing. because, in harrys book, half hitches are for half-wits. then, as i was readying to unload them back on the wee island he asks: do you have help? i said: nope! just me. and he decrees: you need a man! by which he really means: you need to unload your shit faster so i can get the next load of passengers on.
i’m thinking these harry-isms shall become a regular part of these posts.