COLUMN: Weather not the only bullet to dodge

I’m not certain age brings wisdom so much as the realization that the body is no longer up to spending a weekend in a sodden tent...

COLUMN: Weather not the only bullet to dodge

I’m not certain age brings wisdom so much as the realization that the body is no longer up to spending a weekend in a sodden tent, protected from the lashing wind and torrential rain with little more than a plastic tarp strung between a couple of trees.

While there’s nothing like a campfire to make the backcountry palatable, one in which more time is spent ensuring the flames aren’t doused in the downpour, and the resultant smoke constantly stinging the eyes, is no longer my cup of rum in the camp chair.

Common sense, fortunately, took precedence over the proposal to hit the high country despite the temptingly glorious weather last week.

The suggestion for a few days in the woods came Wednesday, and was seriously considered even though I was aware of the impending storms. Thursday brought, along with bluebird skies, a further warning that the weekend would be a mess. Despite my friend suggesting it wasn’t in us to “wimp out” to weather, I suggested observance of forecasts provided by The Weather Network. He also keyed up Environment Canada’s site.

It was agreed that things didn’t look so good . . . “but let’s wait until Friday morning” was determined.

Needless to say for anyone who was in the Fraser Valley on Friday, the message was clear. Too wet, with lots more to come.

What really iced the cake was a check of the BC Highway cams along the Coquihalla. These provide ‘real time’ information on current weather, and the view from the unit at the highway summit was completely obscured by rain on the lens. Enough said, or seen, and thankfully, the ‘adventure’ was postponed to a more appropriate, and pleasant weatherwise, time.

Saturday, as I was sitting by a roaring blaze in the fireplace, vicariously living the campfire experience and watching wind-driven clouds roar through the forest to the south of me, pushing sheets of rain almost parallel to the ground, the phone rang.

“Well, we sure dodged a bullet,” commented my friend from the comfort of his own home.

“No kidding” said I as the deluge beat down on the roof, the water cascading over the gutters.

Even my normally rain-resilient ‘field ornaments’ forsook grazing to huddle under a shelter to wait out the storm.

“Actually, I didn’t mean the weather” noted my caller, “but my truck!”

That would be the truck we were going to take 50 or 60 kilometres into the backcountry – our only mode of transport save our feet.

It had died on local city streets on Saturday afternoon. It was currently residing, following a tow truck ride, at the dealership awaiting repair on Monday.

Had that unpleasantry occurred in the distant bush, I think only I would have ‘dodged a bullet’ . . .  my hapless hunting buddy perhaps not so.

I have spent countless days, and thousands of miles/kilometers, on trips so far into the bush that towing fees, if even possible, to recover the vehicle could be more than what it was worth. Luckily, I’ve never had a catastrophic engine failure, or an inability to extricate the truck from wherever I’ve ventured.

But obviously something completely unexpected, such as happened to my buddy’s truck, can occur.

I trust that experience, and a decent pair of boots, could get me out of any mess but you never know, particularly if the weather and winter was even more severe than what we have experienced over the past couple of days.

Am I happy that the fire I sat by this weekend was in my house rather than before a wet tent? Oh, yeahhh.

But will I risk possible calamity in the future in pursuit of semi-solitude in B.C.’s incomparable backcountry? In a heartbeat, because risk is part of the adventure, so long as it’s not undertaken in a downpour.






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