Monday, September 3, 2012

Merritt , BC - wilderness adventure

Yesterday I woke up before dawn to go bow hunting. But I rolled over and went back to sleep. Gilbert, my cockapoo hunting machine, walked over my face at dawn. He likes to watch for other dogs out the big screen window at the front of the RV. It's so affectionate how he uses my face for a cushion.
Saying my prayers, I made coffee and eventually got away after Laura was up, about 9 am. She'd made me boiled eggs to take along and planned on reading, resting, bathing and cleaning, a full schedule for RV paradise.
I had the Ford F350 HD edition diesel truck, the Clipper Kevlar canoe, fine wood paddles, the new Motorglide Energy 12 Volt #38 Thrust electric motor, Excalibur Max hunting cross bow, Chinese 223 rifle, a Navigator Mountain Bike, all kinds of supporting gear and attitude. Gilbert was right with me there.
On the way out I met the host and hostess to Moonshadow RV Park. They're a beautiful couple. She's a lovely Cortez Island girl and he's a grizzled country man of all trades. Their love story must be enshrined in a Canadian country song, something Ian Tyson or Gordon Lightfoot would build a music world around. I was just thankful they told me where to go in the backwoods. They even sold me the little lure that everyone's catching fish with. I learned later that everyone who was catching fish was using just that lure too except I wasn't catching fish. I'm the sort of fisherman who does better with dynamite or a scuba suit and spear gun.
I'd hardly driven away when my stomach growled. Gilbert is always up for A&W breakfast so I blame him for our first stop. He's ready to climb out the truck window, through the drive through window, and right into that kitchen. I had the sausage and egger. He had a sausage paddy, prefers it straight without the egg or bun. Likes me to break it up in little bits for him too. After that he's ready to help me with mine too.
The Canadian Tire opened at 9:30 am. This Canadian Tire has all of Walmart, Sears and KIA packed into one Canadian Tire. They've got everything, more than any other Canadian Tire, I've seen. Real country living Canadian Tire. I got a new RV waste hose. My old one froze last winter cracking a bit so I duck taped it but even RV trailer trash folk frown on shit oozing waste hoses. I got a new one, a CAMCO Rhino Flex with swivel attachment, RV sewer hose that will no doubt make me the envy of all my neighbours.
On the way out I stopped at the outdoor store right in town. Now I'm deserving of being being called "politically correct" for not remembering the name of this main outdoor store with 'archery supplies' on the window and and all kinds of fabulous guns and ammo as you walk right in. The owner was there and I'd brought in my bow and asked him if he knew anything about stringing the Excalibur. My string was a bit frayed. Probably this was because I left it strung all season in the dry and then shot it without thought of the positioning of the half arrow I used. He'd never strung one, he said but looked at all the gear I had and read the book I'd read too. However he reads better than I do because in a second he had it strung and damned if it isn't easy to do when you use the string stringer the way it obviously explains to do after you see it done. I was so pleased I bought more arrows and more 223 shells, thanking him profusely. His reaction said without words that he was just being country neighbourly.
With nothing more to do Gilbert and I headed out in the backwoods for a day of guy fun. We drove 4x4 ing round some ranch country roads. Magnificent Douglas pine and Norfolk Pine on hills with yellowing grass and fat black cattle roaming about. Cowboys in either brand new or very ancient pick up trucks passed me along the way. I knew they were cowboys because they wore cowboy hats and shirts with rhinestone buttons. We 'jawed' occasionally. "Jawing" is what cowboys call talking, windows down, one Ford truck to another ford truck.
I found a gravel pit and set up some targets. I shot the cross bow arrows dead centre right off at 35 yards. I lost a couple of arrows breaking them when they hit rock under the targets so got tired of this fairly quickly given arrows cost about $7 each. I was shooting bull's eye each time so couldn't improve on that. The 223 was a different matter. It's not the most expensive gun so I think it's not nearly as reliable as some of my other rifles. Still I had it shooting bullseyes after about 20 shots, a few targets and some cans and one ginger ale bottle.
It was about noon when I got out the Irridium Satellite phone out and called Laura to let her know where my location was and what my plan of travel was. I remember leaving a planned itinerary when I backpacked the West Coast Trail. The forestry folk and RCMP recommend this to everyone going back country. I just have hardly ever done it being such a lone operator . I don't seem to know when I leave in the morning where I'm going for sure when I'm hunting but it's no great effort to update my location and say hello. Laura writes down my last know location in case I don't show up and they have to send Boy Scouts out to find where the aliens abducted me. She worries about Gilbert too.
I talked to a logger after that asking him directions to the elusive lake I'd learned about. I could see it on the back country map but wasn't sure the way with a profusion of back country roads leaving the main. We 'jawwed'. He'd heard me sighting in my rifle. Told me he'd been in the Canadian military. Still target practices with a pistol. Gave me directions to the lake describing the last bit as pretty rough steep road driving but 'with this rig you should make it." That didn't sound good. The road really was rough and if I'd not talked to him I'd never have gone on to find the lake. The lake was worth it, though, pristine beauty at its finest.
A camper and truck were there with a pretty girl and handsome man and a little grey pug who Gilbert became best friends with. The two of them ran all over wrestling and chasing and rolling around having a merry dog time. Meanwhile I unloaded the canoe, carried it lake side and proceeded to load it up with all the stuff. I had this idea I'd maybe hunt deer off the backside of the lake so took the bow and rifle. The rifle was in case of bear. No sense travelling light when you have a canoe. Then there was the Shakespeare fishing rod and life jackets, pelican box with Irridium and Iphone, Harley Davidson hoody and lots of cans of Canada dry ginger ale and coke. I even put the Scotty rod holder on a canoe bar just like the girl at Clipper Canoe in Abbotsford showed me. The motorglide energy 12 volt incredibly quiet outboard really showed I meant business as a fisherman.
I got Gilbert in his yellow life jacket but off he went to play with the pug again. Finally when I was pushing the boat in the water he joined me. I'd driven the truck off the boat loading road and parked it to the side. It was hot with light breeze and lots of blue sky and sunshine. The lake was beautiful with reeds about it and just the right size for a canoe.
I pushed off with my paddles then with the canoe pushed into the reeds by the slight breeze I tried to figure out reverse and forward on the electric motor and how to get the canoe pointed straight. There was a steep learning curve involved and only once I nearly spilled the canoe when Gilbert decided to join me on one side of the canoe kind of surprising me with how much his 15 lbs of weight can add to a precarious attempt by human to lean over and look at how far down the propeller was. It wasn't long before I had it all worked out and was trolling the reeds in the hot sunshine mid day. Meanwhile best fishing is early morning and late evening. I realized I didn't have a net if I caught anything and I didn't have leaders or gaff to lift with either. It's not a big deal. I rarely catch inland fish in BC. Ocean fish I do and on the prairies I always caught fish but here I'm skunked all the time and without reward rarely fish so am a self perpetuating poor BC inland fisherman.
An impatient fisherman, I tired of trolling after I'd travelled once around the lake so beached the boat and cast from there, changing hooks to use all my available stock. I got one bite and it somehow got away. Lots of jerking and charging and then dead weight and release. I think it must have got under a log. It had that feel. I had a coke, made a cellphone call to Laura, finding we had Telus cell coverage so didn't need to use the Iridium. I even texted her a picture of Gilbert ashore and uploaded a picture of the very business looking fishing canoe to Facebook, mentioning the 'one that got away'. I'm sure it was really big. Meanwhile a couple of other boats were hauling in trout with the lures I was told to use, and did, without similiar success. Gilbert and I walked the woods looking at deer trails. Back at the boat I had planned to go for a swim but clouds had covered the sun so I put on a tshirt instead. Got back in the boat, pushed off and trolled some more. I wished I'd brought an anchor but backed the canoe into a tree in the water and cast from there. A whole afternoon went by with not much happening. The occasional whoop of another fisherman or woman across the lake as they pulled in another fish wasn't encouraging either. If I was a teen ager I'd have switched off with a game boy happening for sure. Thinking of teen agers a group of them suddenly appeared and sat on the dock talking teen ager group drivel so I decided against unloading and did some more trolling about the lake hoping they'd leave. They were probably just fine individually but teen agers together made Lord of the Flies a particularly believable novel.
When they left I came ashore. Getting the truck I talked to an offroad motorcyclist with a KLR. He'd got lost and ended up at the lake when he wanted to be further south. He was preparing for motorcycle ride down South America next year. I talked with him about Jupiter and motorcycles for a bit.
The girl and guy and pug came ashore just then and Gilbert was off and running. I marvelled at the beautiful trout she'd caught. He told me he'd taught her fishing just this year and she proudly shared, "I caught more than he did." I was surprised she didn't hold her ears and stick out her tongue. They were that kind of in love couple. The guy offered to help me lift the canoe onto the truck marvelling at it's lightness of weight.
"I find as I've gotten older I've bought lighter and lighter gear. I started with a 15 hp outboard , went to an 8 hp then a 4 hp and now I've got the electric motor. I had a heavy alluminum canoe when I was younger." He must have been at most 40 and laughed like young men do when old men share the wisdom of age.
I really liked that he helped me lift my feather light canoe onto the truck. Older I feel no guilt in having help from the young. I remember I felt good doing it once too.
The road down the hill wasn't as bad as I feared but it was gnarly in low gear and 4x4. After that we headed up a Forest Service road to explore some. I found a nice place for the evening hunt so geared up and stalked along some trails till we came to a likely place to sit and wait in ambush with the bow till darkness fell. All I heard was a rabbit thumping across the field. Gilbert snuggled next to me for warmth. No deer came down the mountain side. So when it was too dark to be sure of horns for bucks versus does, we walked quietly back to the truck.
Full moon and more cows on the road. I had to stop a couple of times and adjust the canoe straps. Gilbert was asleep in the front seat totally tuckered by all the dog play and hunting excitement.
Back at the RV Laura barbecued pork chops. They were so tasty I thought I'd love to hunt porkers. Pan fried fish would have been nice but Laura's pork chops were terrific. I was astonished after having a bowl of ice cream to finish a terrific meal how tired I was. I was in bed after dinner and slept fitfully dreaming of great celebrations and meetings in the sky.
With Gilbert waking me this morning I took him for a walk finding I'd left the truck door open and nothing had been lost. We walked along the river in the early morning. I was stiff and sore but in a good way realizing my usual desk jockey workouts with the computer were nothing compared to the work out I got when we were out in the country.
Back in the RV Gilbert has gone back to sleep after waking up Laura and helping her with her crosswords. I've had one cup of coffee and am starting my second while Laura has begun making bacon sandwiches for breakfast.
Merritt, its surrounding wilderness and lakes, and the Moonshadow RV Park
have made this Labour Day weekend a real treat for us. We'll be packing up and heading back to Vancouver soon, having a real outdoors country weekend to look back on.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

No comments: