Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Don't Worry. I'll be Fine. Nothing is Going to Happen to Me.

The day was blistering hot. We were on a gravel road that was full of twists & turns and, in many places, only wide enough for one vehicle. On one side of the road the mountain was rugged and steep and on the other side, it was straight down to the Fraser River. As Tony navigated our 4x4, sometimes through spaces that seemed smaller than our beast of a truck, I reminded myself that we were doing this for fun.

This particular trip was our annual Anniversary trip and we decided to attempt a back-roads loop that had been on our "to-do" list for a long time. This road trip takes you past some of the most amazing views of the Fraser River but it is not a trip for an inexperienced driver or, for that matter, anyone with a fear of heights! The entire loop is about 125 kilometres...from Clinton to the Big Bar Reaction Ferry, south along the High Bar Road that parallels the Fraser River, east through Edge Hills Provincial Park and then back up to Clinton. The last leg of this loop is the most treacherous part. Six switchbacks up a 23% grade. They've put a sign at the beginning of the switchbacks. It pretty much sums up this road trip for me.

We were just starting up the mountain when we saw something ahead, glinting in the sun. "Oh no." Tony said. "This is not good." A few moments later we saw a man walking down the road. When he saw our truck he began to wave his arms, frantically imploring us to stop. It was his car that we saw, broken down in the middle of this desolate spot. You have to understand... this place is remote. We had been driving for over three hours and we never passed another vehicle. When we arrived, the look of utter relief on Chris' face was very apparent. We were his only hope to get out of a very bad situation.

Tony and Chris worked on his Volvo for over an hour. It was 38 degrees, the sun was relentless and so were the flies. To his credit Tony worked hard, trying to reattach the radiator hose that had been ripped to shreds. When it was apparent that it couldn't be fixed we took our new friend to Clinton where he found a motel and a tow truck driver that was willing to go back and rescue the poor car. Chris sent me an email a few days later and thanked us again for rescuing him. If we hadn't come along I'm not sure what he would have done.

Don't Worry. I'll be Fine. Nothing is Going to Happen to Me.

Fast forward to this last weekend. We were anticipating a quick little get away to Merritt. Some hunting and geo-caching. Doing what we love to do.

That Sunday night Tony was driving in the mountains above Merritt when, suddenly, he saw a young girl coming down the mountainside, running towards the truck. "Oh no." he said. "This is not good." "Please," she said to Tony, "I left my friend up on the mountain. She broke her foot and couldn't go any further. I was going for help."

They drove back up the mountain and found the injured girl sitting, waiting for someone to come rescue her. When she saw her friend climb out of our truck she was overwhelmed with relief. She was expecting to wait for hours for her friend to come back with help and was getting pretty worried about spending a very cold night alone, high up in the Merritt grasslands.

After Tony helped her into the truck and they started to make their way down the mountain he decided to say what was on his mind. "Look" he said. "I have three daughters about your age and I'm going to tell you what I would say to them right now. I'm looking at what you have and all I see is a couple of little fanny packs and two bottles of water. You have no emergency equipment. Nothing that would help keep you safe during a night alone in the elements. What would you have done if I hadn't come along?" The drive to their car took about 45 minutes and he gave them a lecture the entire way. I'm sure that they are words they will never forget. At least I hope so.

Don't Worry. I'll be Fine. Nothing is Going to Happen to Me.

Unfortunately these aren't isolated incidents. It seems that you can't turn on the news without hearing about another outdoor enthusiast that has been lost to the wilderness. Some are rescued and some, tragically, are still lost.

So this post is for all of you who love to be out there like we do. It's for you who love this great and gorgeous wilderness that we are lucky enough to call home. And it's for you who come to visit. Don't take this land for granted. Go out there and have a great time but please, be prepared for whatever may happen because...

We do worry. You might not be fine. And it could happen to you.


Eddie said...

Good story and reminders for all of us who love exploring the back roads, goat trails and everything in between.

What do I take when I go out exploring? A) another person and B) another vehicle when possible as there is safety in numbers.

I have a lot of years poking around in the woods and mountain roads and I don't assume "nothing will happen to me"

My motto is "hope for the best and plan for the worst"

Dawnelle said...

LOL... that sounds like it should be my next blog title "Hope for the Best and Plan for the Worst."