I’ve been on quite a few adventures. Some were great, some not so great. This one was both.
Hubs and I were in Canada. It’s a beautiful place, at least the parts we’ve seen which is British Columbia and the west side of Alberta. Things are much more spread out there, as in towns are much farther apart than in the States and they are few. We go up there and drive around. I take a lot of pictures.
We like to take the smaller, less traveled roads for two reasons. 1) We get to see more beautiful country, and 2) we have a better chance of seeing some critters i.e. bears, moose, deer, eagles, whatever. At the time, in ’08, we had a paper map, a GPS unit, and our flip-phones (no apps). With that being said, I’d still take a paper map with us today. I’ll explain later.
We were on our way to the next hotel for the night, which was a long way away. We’d gotten up fairly early so we had all day. Thankfully. I’m looking at the map (designated navigator) and see that there’s a road that goes off of the highway, cuts across to a little town called Seymour Arm then keeps going to the highway we needed on the other side. Effectively a short cut! It looked to be about half as far as going all the way around via Highway 1. In the map below, Seymour Arm is at the top of the lake on the far right. I’m thinking that the “seasonal road” is the one we took. Hubs is game so off we go.
It was a gravel road, well maintained but a little narrow. About thirty minutes in, we met a logging truck. It was the only other vehicle we’d seen so far. We didn’t really care. The scenery was spectacular! We hadn’t seen any critters yet but were hopeful. As a side note: this road had these markers nailed to the trees every so often. We thought maybe they were mile markers, or logging markers but all it was was just a number and they weren’t exactly sequential, so I don’t know. We’re following the road & see a couple of deer which was exciting.
Maybe around 90 minutes in, we come to a fork in the road. There aren’t any signs saying which way the town is. We haven’t seen any other vehicles or people since the truck earlier. We go to the right. Eventually, the road to narrows down to a path. It’s been a rough road all along so we can’t go very fast. We’re still good on gas so we keep going. We’re in the mountains and there are waterfalls and beauty everywhere.
Still haven’t seen another vehicle. Which is good for me because every time I get out of the car to take a picture, the cold hits me and I have to pee. I’m a country girl so peeing on the side of the road, with nobody around is not a big deal. The big deal is the B52 sized mosquitoes that swarm the vehicle as soon as we stop. I spray myself with bug spray as soon as I get out. The other big deal is the bear poop that we see in the road about every 50 feet. My head is on a swivel the whole time I’m in a vulnerable position. Any crack of a stick or a small noise makes me want to bolt for the car. Man, I sure don’t want to die with my pants down. People would really wonder wtf I was doing when I got killed by a bear.
Seeing as how we haven’t found the town yet and haven’t seen another human in over 2 hours, Hubs figures how much gas we have and how much it would take to get back to civilization i.e. a gas station. So he’s figured how much farther we can go before we have to turn around. He’s good like that. Now, I know you think you can go a long distance in 2 hours, but people, I’m telling you, on this road we went about 25 mph, 35 mph tops. It was really rough with lots of big rocks. So I don’t think we got very far before we decided we were going the wrong way.
The phones had no signal. The GPS had lost her mind and kept saying “make a left…make a left” and the indicator of our vehicle (the little triangle thing) was floating in space without a road. At first it was funny. “Geez Madge “(We called her that, short for Magellan),” if we make a left we’ll go off the side of a mountain.” After about 30 minutes it wasn’t funny anymore and I shut her off & put her in the glove box. Stupid, worthless GPS. So at this point all we had was the paper map, which wasn’t detailed enough to have this part of the road on it.
We were getting nervous since the road wasn’t getting any better and the mountains were getting thicker. We turned around and went back to the “Y” in the road. We went straight even though a sign said we shouldn’t be on the road without walkie-talkies. Which is why we didn’t go that way in the first place. We didn’t feel like getting splattered by a logging truck coming around a corner. Finally, we came to the town of Seymour Arm. Found a gas station and a little store that was literally ON the lake. Pretty darn cool. I was just relieved that we’d found it.
Hubs got directions to the highway, which were sketchy. Like go 20 km till you get to the bridge then go west 30km and turn south sort of sketchy. While he was in the store, I got Madge back out and she found us at Seymour Arm. Such a clever girl….
We head out with renewed enthusiasm and glad to be alive. It didn’t take long for us to take the wrong road and get lost again however. There were a lot of roads peeling off from the original one we’d started on from the store. Madge said to take this one, so we did. It didn’t take long for me to hate Madge when she dumped us again and went to floating in space. Stupid freaking GPS. I swear she was trying to strand us in the freaking mountains.
I think now is a good time to note that at that time there had been reports of human feet washing up on the shores of BC around Vancouver. Yes people. Human feet. With their tennis shoes still on. Not matching feet either. I think they’d found about 8 of them so far. So as we were getting more nervous about being lost in a vast wilderness with bears everywhere we started to get goofy and make jokes. I was taking some video and thought it might be a good idea to take video of our feet & shoes, just in case if anyone found us after we died, without our feet, or found just our feet that they’d see the video and be able to identify us and put us back together.Oddly, although we saw bear poop every 50-100 feet on the road, we didn’t see any bears. Still, with me having to pee so often, I knew they were out there. I’m pretty sure I could feel them watching me.
We were going along and it was getting late. We’d been on that freaking path/road for 9 hours. 9 HOURS! It wasn’t fun anymore. It wouldn’t be long before the sun went below the mountains. We made plans on what to do if the Jeep crapped out. I mean, I can’t stress enough how rough that road was. There was a time when we were literally driving down a creek bed. I could just see something falling off of the Jeep and we’d be stranded. Hubs was like “Oh, I’ll just light a tire on fire and it’ll make a bunch of smoke and someone will come check it out.” “Well, Bright One, how are we gonna make a fire without a lighter or firestarter?” “Oh, I’ll use the battery & cables to spark a fire.” Did I mention he’s good like that? I’m thinking “Smart Ass.” But it did make me less nervous to have a plan. I’m envisioning cannibalizing the seats (of this rental car) and sleeping inside them instead of on them, since we didn’t have a blanket. We were dressed warmly but it gets pretty cold at night. We had food & water, but crap, wouldn’t the bears smell it and come to dinner?
As we drove along for a while longer, the mountains closed in and we couldn’t see very far. The only people we’d seen were the logging truck, the guy at the store and a couple vehicles right outside of town. That was many hours ago. We came across an abandoned vehicle that had been there a long time. Gulp. Holy crap! What happened to THEM? We had stopped joking and being goofy a long time ago. We had gotten quiet and I had stopped taking pictures and video. Which also meant that I didn’t have to pee anymore. Thankfully. We didn’t joke about the abandoned vehicle. Just looked at one another and kept on going.
Another hour passed and we finally ended up on the highway! It was much lighter once we got out of the mountains. Oh, and guess what? Right before we got onto the highway, we saw a bear. 10 freaking hours and no sign of anything except the deer and bear poop. Then when we get back to civilization we see a bear. What kind of crap is that?
To say we were relieved to find the highway is an understatement. We still had about 90 minutes of driving to do before we got to the hotel, but it was on the highway and we didn’t care.