What trip will be the magic number? I thought it would happen so long ago so perhaps, and just perhaps, I’m not as sharp as I should be. But without giving clues, I am closer than ever. The quest has gone from an immense area of forest to a very limited size. As the fifth year nears its completion, I think there’s never been a moment when I didn’t believe in a successful completion. Ever the optimist.
On this last trip, the nights were cold in the Hyundai Hostel. The darkness came early, dawn came late. But a good sleeping bag topped with a heavy woolen blanket provided good comfort. The hardest part was getting out of the warm bag but of course every bladder needs to be emptied, mine several times in the night. And thankfully, I could just stretch out completely with the rear seats folded done by laying diagonally. Despite the weather forecast, my quest was rained out. The creek level rose surprisingly by morning.
As I drove from the area on the forestry road, my stomach demanded that I stop, grab the paper towel roll and dash into the forest. In retrospect, my ailment may have been from the black banana I ate or perhaps the warm yogurt. Several hernia’s await repair in our slow motion medical system so I should’ve been more discerning with my diet. But I only had so much food with me and I’m not the forest connoisseur I should be. To make the situation worse, the paper work wasn’t even completed when I heard the telltale sound of an engine, a diesel, I think. They always catch you at the worst times, don’t they? But their slow driving pace and my fast clean up prevented an ugly scene. I’d driven the trail so many times and encountered maybe 5 or 6 vehicles so the encounter was a surprise.
My time back in the forest was still beautiful. Traces of fog lingered in the trees lending a dream-like quality to the scene. Rare moments of sunlight streamed in between the silent trees, the sun low in the distant sky. Golden-coloured spruce needles littered the forest floor and portions of the trail appeared golden. Many needles glistened with raindrops and later floated to the ground like snowflakes. Hunting season had scattered the game far and wide and I saw only deer and bighorn sheep along the highway. Even the usual squirrels were nowhere to be found. Yet I appreciated the beauty.
On my return I detoured through the massive Cabela’s Outdoor store in Abbotsford. With my hunting days now decades passed, I have mixed feelings on the ‘sport’. There was a time when supplying meat for the winter ahead could be seen as necessary. And I can appreciate the mounted animals in the store, the skill of the hunter and the artistry of the taxidermist. But I wonder now if too many hunters vie for too few available animals as mega stores present the sport to the masses. Yet the call of the wild has always been heard and answered. And the freedom of the open countryside should be experienced. Safely and legally.