Continued from Part 7: Tumult Glacier Valley When we broke camp I expected a long day. I expected a lot of bushwacking, a lot of logging road and a lot of pain. Expecting it did not make it any easier.
After packing our bags in the morning it was more boulder scrambling right off the bat.
Following that, bushwacking. Squeezed between the mountains flanks and a river, the only way onward was forward but forward meant pressing through thick alder which snags at every possible object. Thick branches pressed down from successive avalanches stood horizontally and some younger branches, vertically. There really is no order to alder but one thing is certain, it's extremely unpleasant to travel through.
Tim Bushwacking. Photo Nick Matwyuk
Fortunately, the bush couldn't last forever. Soon we reached old growth stands which made for much faster travel. The old growth gave away quickly to logging only a few years old.
We bashed our way down the logging road overgrown with young alder for a number of kilometers. Often I'd imagine a grizzly standing up mere feet away, curious as to what generated such an odd smell. In the end we must of smelt so bad they'd gone running.
We were happy when we reached the Klinaklini Forest Road. It was the mainline to the logging in the area and clear of alder. We soon reached the bridge that crossed the Klinaklini River but it had been dismantled with only a foundation remaining. Not a good sign that logging was active in the area. Most of us had hoped that maybe we'd chance upon a truck that could carry us back along the flat logging road but that wouldn't be the case. We'd have to walk the 20 odd kilometers to the logging camp. And so we walked.
And we walked. And we walked some more. The kilometers started passing by slower and slower. Were they getting longer? No, my pace just slower. Despite all your attempts to keep the mind occupied, in the end time goes by slowly as all I could focus on is step after step after step.
Time passed this way for a while, walking becoming more and more difficult.
The walking seems to never end. The group has stopped to sit on the fat low wooden rails of a bridge. I stop to sit as well and take a moment to sum up my courage. With difficulty I take off my boots, and then socks. White, wrinkled flesh with skin delaminating from the soles of my feet. Blisters cover even on the tip of my toes and on top of my arch. To the left 2.6 is spray painted in blue onto the concrete of the bridge. 2.6 kilometers are left till we reach the million dollar bridge crossing the expanse of the glacier fed Klinaklini River.
With my teammates disapearing around the corner I force my feet into my boots. A hot sweat breaking on my brow from the sting of merely standing. I shoulder the heavy pack with the long skis swinging wildly as I throw it on. My walk starts out as more of a hobble moving at barely a snails pace. As pain coarses through my feet, I hiss through clenched teeth and I try to think of all the things that have kept me going this far along this forsaken logging road. A warm shower, a bed, pizza, electricity and all the other comforts of civilization. The pain in my feet stymies these thoughts quickly and in the end the same questions keep nagging away at me. What am I doing out here in the middle of nowhere anyways? What was I thinking? Am I allowed to quit?
The answer is no...
What am I doing out here? The answer is I don't know what I'm doing out here anymore. The magic and grandness of it all disappeared when I started feeling like I might fly out of here in a wheelchair. Only a finish line, a light at the end of the tunnel, keeps me going.
As I plod along slowly, alone in my mind, in a dark place, I hear a humm. I don't register or react until the humm quickly becomes a motor. A motor approaching quickly. I look up to see a man on a ATV coming towards me.
"Want a ride?" he asks simply. Fuck yes...
The man said he'd never seen anyone so happy to see a quad. I can only imagine my face.
The man on the atv was a grizzly hunter who had been looking around for tracks when he came upon us. Logging was somewhat active but the million dollar bridge crossing the Klinaklini near the logging camp had been condemned and no forestry workers were allowed across. Fortunately, a few trucks passed by and waited for us to regroup on the other side of the bridge. The hunters left us as we clambered into the back of the pick ups. Although it only saved us a few final kilometers, it felt fantastic. The camp manager was nice enough to offer us cinnamon buns, rooms with mattresses and a shower.
I had a hard time sleeping on a mattress in a room. I stared at the ceiling with a permanent smile all night simply content while my feet aired and the delaminated skin glued itself back on through the night. The shower had felt fantastic and the feeling of having four solid walls instead of a thin fabric to shelter me is hard to explain. It was good to be out.
In the morning a twin otter landed to pick us up. We loaded our gear and set off, bound for Cambell River.
It was a great plane ride with beautiful landscapes whizzing by underneath. Inlets and mountains, so many places left to explore!
We made a strange sight in Campbell River with our skis. People stared and stopped to ask questions like "Are those snow skis?" The people on the greyhound were also curious, but with a different sort of question: "What's that awful smell?"
After busing to Nainamo we walked onto the ferry to Horseshoe Bay. Here we met up with friends and family, said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.
Thanks for an unbelievable trip guys!
Riding back home to Pemberton along the Sea to Sky took adjusting. The feeling of sitting comfortably in a car with landscapes moving by so quickly was dizzying.
Although this trip was now over, the reality is, it's just the beginning...