COLUMN: Potential disasters come in many forms

I don’t think there is major concern for flooding down here, but with all that mountain snow remaining I’d not throw caution to the wind.

Heading up the Coquihalla last week, after hearing and reading dire warnings of impending flood threats in the Interior, and possibly here on the Lower Mainland, I was more than a little surprised so see the highway’s namesake river flowing green and well within its banks.

The Fraser, on the other hand, was flowing fast and relatively high for this time of the year, laden with silt.

I also noticed crossing the flatlands of Chilliwack that above about 4,000 feet on Mount Cheam and its sister peaks in the Cascade Range, there had been a fresh dump of snow overnight last Wednesday. When I achieved the Coquihalla summit, it was obvious why the river was running relatively low and clean. Not only is it still snowing in the mountains, there is a vast quantity of snow in the upper reaches yet to begin spring melt.

In fact, from the time I left the Valley until a pit stop for fuel in Merritt, the day temperature never left single digits, which means if we get a hot spell, rivers like the Coq will be soon spewing forth vast volumes to contribute to the already swollen Fraser.

I don’t think there is major concern for flooding down here, but with all that mountain snow remaining I’d not be throwing caution to the wind.

However, my foray into the hinterland was not to observe weather and snowpack, but to collect a horse of impeccable bloodlines to add to my seemingly never-ending, and in dispute with my always earnest intent to downsize, collection of equines.

This magnificent Morgan was born and raised on a small isolated ranch high in the mountains above Merritt. Not only had he never left the place, he’d never been in a trailer, and certainly never experienced the noise and confusion of transport trucks and other vehicles rushing past on the ride back to the valley.

But he rode very well, comforted perhaps by the old, well-travelled mare I’d taken along to keep him calm and companied.

The low elevation of the Fraser Valley, however, wasn’t his only surprise on arrival. As I unloaded this gentle giant and turned him loose in the pasture, Stewie the donkey not only raced over, he attacked.

Stewie is not only protective, he’s a fully intact male and to my unthinking amazement, became the equivalent of a pit bull on steroids.

Despite being outweighed by probably 900 pounds (the donkey is a ‘mini’) the first few minutes were all Stewie’s. Then the horse, who previously had never experienced anything more harsh than a stiff grooming brush, discovered how effective a number of swift kicks can be to ward off a frightening and vicious attack.

Fortunately, a truce occurred with a beaten and sweaty Stewie retreating to a corral for some R&R before, I assume, renewing his assault.

That gave me the opportunity to lock the gate, and for the new horse to come to grips with his unwelcome arrival – something he is still recovering from, though he is making strides.

Thankfully, with his strength and suddenly acquired ability to fight back, he averted any serious and potentially disastrous damage the donkey attempted to inflict.

Stewie however, still honking his displeasure every now and then from the corral, has an imminent appointment with the vet who says, perhaps in six weeks or so after surgery, his testosterone levels should abate.

In the meantime, the donkey must wear the rubric “does not play well with others!”