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© All rights reserved Eliguk Lake Lodge Outfitters Inc.
~ FISH BONE ~
(DISCLAIMER - this isn't a story about a Rock Band, Jesus, Restaurant/Bistro, Ishikawa Diagram or not Finding Nemo)
As I sit here at Eliguk Lake, writing about our journey to this amazing place, I can't help but wonder how we ever made it here at all. It's me, Jennifer - crazy, adventurous wife lady of Aron Toland, and this is all about our "next chapter in life". We could have filled a whole season of one of the best reality shows ever with just 15 days in the bush! At the very least, we should be airing an episode of "I Shouldn't Be Alive"....or so it felt that way in the beginning.
We spent months planning, packing and collecting for our 2 week off grid adventure. Picking the middle of July known for it's drier season. May & June were beautiful this year. Moderate temperatures and just enough precipitation to keep things green. Then July came...along with rain, rain and more rain. Shutting down an automotive business in Kelowna for 2 weeks is something you have to plan long in advance, so changing the dates as we got close to leaving was not an option. Our friends Amy & Al were house sitting and looking after our Chicken farm in Kelowna - so everything was set! It rained for weeks, so much so that locals said it was the most rain they had seen in all their 50 years of living in the Cariboo/Chilcotin area. We called the locals from both the Anahim and Vanderhoof trail entrance locations to see which area was still passable, if at all. The Anahim route had a crossing at Irene lake that had grown to about 300 meters wide and about 5 feet at it's deepest point. However we were told that quads had made it into the Vanderhoof entrance the weekend before. So we split up the groups. The big Diesel trucks with trailers would haul all the way into Vanderhoof (an extra day of travel) and Aron would take the Anahim route with his Jeep (equipped with a snorkel kit) and trailer in tow as the Jeep was not set up for a long highway haul in the first place.
This BLOG is called "Project Fish Bone", it's based on true actual events and happenings that took place in our travels and illustrated with photos whenever possible. I will add to this blog every time we journey to, and stay at Eliguk Lake. So grab a beverage of choice and get comfy for this wild ride-along adventure in the first chapter of our new lives in the remote wilderness of BC.
Aron left with a very packed Jeep at 9am
Friday July 8th, 2016 with his dog, "Storm".
He was headed to Anahim. From Kelowna
it was about a 9 hr trip. Making sure his
Jeep was in top notch condition for what
the rugged trails would be like. After all
4-wheeling has always been a part of our
lives and owning and operating an auto-
motive shop allows one to customize your ride.
The plan was that Aron would arrive at Eliguk
Lake that night and then the next day make his
way North about 17 kms through trails to Lamperts field where we would meet with our big rigs and get help crossing the flooded field. Our friends Denis & Louise were making the trip up with us and staying for a week to help with the beginnings of some much needed work like clearing brush, cleaning and renovating cabins for groups we have coming in August. I was driving our diesel truck and towing a very loaded utility trailer. They were driving a diesel truck towing a long flatdeck loaded with 3 quads. Louise chose to
ride with me, so she could keep me
stay awake for the long haul as I tend
to fall asleep easily while driving long
trips. (I think it's because I get bored
I got a call from Aron about 1 pm saying that he was just getting to Williams Lake and then Aron would lose cell service for the duration of his time in the Chilcotin. Dennis, Louise and I left Kelowna at 1:30pm. We were headed to Prince George for the night. It rained off and on and travelling was smooth going.
We stopped in Williams
Lake for dinner at the
Laughing Loon Pub. This is
Denis & Louise. I fed my
left-over chicken to Murphy
to which we would find out
later, wasn't the wisest move
on my part.
The journey to Prince George brought sheets of rain and windshield wipers on high mode. Paired with darkness, bright lights and strong crosswinds, hauling a heavy trailer made it a white knuckled ride. You couldn't see the lines on the highway and every once in a while hydroplaning would make me drive with my face over the top of the steering wheel and my hands fixed at 10 & 2! Then the god awful Murphy farts kicked in. It was like someone exploded a bag of rotten chicken right in our laps. Louise started gagging and we opened the windows full pour rain or not. Not kidding this went on for about an hour.
How can such a big stink can come out of
such a little dog? Who is so innocent
looking almost all of the time. Meet "Jesus
Murphy", my Paperanian. Named appropriately.
He's my hunting partner, "btw Murphy you have a
little Grouse on your face..."
It is now duly noted that this dog turns chicken
into "instant gag reflex syndrome."
We arrived in PG at 12:30am, greeted by the Bast & Szederkenyi family where we would find comfy warm beds for the night with a full home cooked breakfast in the morning.
MEANWHILE IN ANAHIM....
Aron arrived at Nimpo Lake at 7:30 pm and went to visit Jeanette Schiller (the original owner of Eliguk Lake Lodge) stopped for fuel and a package of wieners and headed another 10 minutes to Anahim where he turned onto Christiansen rd. When he got to the 65km marker crossed the double bridge and turned right - he envisioned roasting wieners over the fire at Eliguk with Storm. Darkness started to set in, the rough trail took hours to go 4 km, and then he made a wrong turn and went 6 km off track. Going on sheer memory of the trip he had taken by snow machine to Eliguk back in March (sorry guys, I am throwing you under the bus here...Aron is male - he doesn't need to ask for directions and didn't take a map.) Although a map in the torrential rains where you can't even see roads may not have been of much use!
He hit a boulder field, it was pouring rain, the swamps had grown so large they looked more like lakes spread out all about and they had swallowed up the trails. Turning around in the middle of boulders is where he bent his right front leaf spring and bent the tow hitch. He had to detach the trailer to turn around. He made his way back to the start of the trail - trying to find the last one he hadn't tried, the trail that looked like it turned into a giant swamp. This must be it he thought, but everything in him didn't want to drive into the darkness - straight into the unknown! How deep was it? He was frustrated and discouraged, but at least he had his dog. At this point he had lost a headlight and a windshield wiper too...but not knowing if it was a trail, but it seemed to be the last option. This was about 2am. Aron & Storm shared a couple wieners and then Aron tucked the only food they had between the seats.
(Pictures taken during the day of the main route - didn't get any shots of the nasty trails he took as obviously we avoided those. These were taken about a week later after the water levels went down. Try doing this in the dark, sheets of rain, by yourself and not knowing what's around the corner or how deep it's going to get!)
This spot got very deep at one point, over the top of the fender with lots of boulders in between. He was happy to see the trail kept going. Then he came to a very recognizable spot. Finally there was solace in knowing he was on the right path. Irene. We had viewed pictures of this river crossing a week before,...one week less of all the rain we'd been getting. Now it was at least 300 meters wide. During Spring runoff it can get about 4 feet deep and it has a rock bottom. He approached cautiously, the Jeep was running good and he was about to drown it. As he crossed he was slightly panicked when all lights including his off road light bar were underwater and there was sheer darkness, just the sound of rain beating on the roof and a muffled engine being engulfed in water. Irene came up over the hood and made waves across his windshield, at this point there is at least a foot of water inside the Jeep and rising. Travelling underwater across boulders in the dark, you have to wonder if you are still on the trail going in the direction you need to be going? Finally as the lights shone across the field the exit trail out of the water became visible. Aron had noticed Storm had his head down between the seats - yes he was just finishing up the last of the hot dogs. That vision of roasting weenies by the cabin over the fire with his dog - vanished. (Maybe he was saving the wieners from drowning?) The snorkel kit on the Jeep proved to be a wise investment. Keep in mind Aron is towing a trailer, carrying a strapped down large Aluminum quad trailer and a 1000L water tote - that all obviously floated across.
Shortly after Irene, came the Blackwater. It was about 4 feet deep, and a short crossing but flowing very fast. Crossing it slightly pushed you down river, but it was really nothing after crossing Irene. He finally reached the East end of Eliguk Lake known as "the field". This is where he dropped his trailer load as he knew the trails from here were only wide enough to get a quad through. Plus the trailer had bounced around so much it was rattling apart. But in the dark, still pouring rain, he took the wrong trail up Dozer rd. Not much of a road as after travelling up it a few km's it narrowed to a point of only a trail. He had bushwacked his way to this point and just had a feeling he wasn't on the right track. Back to the field he went and finally found the trail that runs along the lake. In daylight, it's much easier to navigate direction and your surroundings. He put the last of his gas in the Jeep, not planning on driving all night as it was supposed to be a 3-4 hr drive into the Lodge, all his gas reserves were now gone, but there was gas left at the resort.
Soaked, exhausted and hypothermic, he started widening the 5km of trail all the way to the resorts turnoff. He'd just bought a brand new STIHL chainsaw, that wasn't looking so new anymore, having operated it all night in the rain. The sky started to lighten and dawn arrived, at least he could see where he was, the forest was dense and thick with Pine, Spruce & Poplar trees. When he came to a low lying huge Pine that was hung up in the trees he was forced to take his boat off the roof and leave it there to the side of the trail. Then he came up on a trail to his left and he figured that had to be our "driveway". After going a few hundred meters the trail got too narrow for the Jeep, but in the morning sunlight he could see a couple of roofs and a glistening lake in the distance. . Grabbing his pack, rifle and dog he hiked in from there.
MEANWHILE IN PG....
I woke at about 4:30am only having slept about 2 hours, checking my phone constantly - wondering why Aron hadn't called when he reached Eliguk like we had planned. Wives worry, yes it's bred into us - there is no getting around that trait! Time is a killer when you are waiting to find out where your husband is. Everyone in the house where we were staying we're up and all concerned about what was going on. They could see the stress I was in, and they were very comforting. I waited till 7:30 and then started making phone calls to track Aron's last whereabouts. We all kept saying, we should have never split up, but no one expects things to go sideways like this? None of his acquaintances in the area had made contact with him as it was Stampede weekend in Anahim and that's where the locals were. A friend's son had seen his Jeep drive into Anahim yesterday afternoon. As far as I knew he could still be out in the middle of no-where and I just wanted that phone call to know he was still alive and well! (Yes, I have a crazy husband that puts me in these situations where I often wonder if he's alive or not!)
MEANWHILE AT ELIGUK....
Upon entering the resort, he noticed a few open doors. Some kicked in, handles broken off with an axe and locks cut with bolt cutters. The resort had been ransacked! Several pieces of large equipment were missing, 2 - 6hp Johnson outboard motors, a green Kawasaki air compressor, several carb & water pump rebuild kits, misc tools, commercial size battery charger, and all the extra gas that was stored at the resort. The thief used the quad trailer stored under the lodge that was labelled "Eliguk Lake Lodge" to tow it all away with. Tired and frustrated, angry and discouraged he just needed to sleep. But as he was still deep in his investigation of the cabins, he could hear someone or something rustling about in a cabin. Then he heard a voice. Thinking he may have caught the vandal coming back for more, he cautiously approached the stranger. Aron startled the man who promptly introduced himself as our neighbor, Clive from across the lake. He had heard chainsawing coming from across the lake all morning and came over to see what it was all about. Poor Clive had picked the worst possible time for a visit as Aron was overly tired and on guard. They chatted for only 5 minutes or so as Aron was past the point of exhaustion. This would be when Aron called me in PG at 8:00am, after that call Cabin #1 is where he and Storm would fall fast asleep sharing a sleeping bag.
MEANWHILE IN PG....
Then at 8am my cell phone rings, it's Aron! He's groggy, and miserable, but I still have tears in my eyes just hearing his voice. He doesn't talk long because he's exhausted but tells me just enough. "The ride in took all night....it was hell...we've been broken into....they took everything....I'm out of gas and stranded here....I can't meet you at Lamperts field....we should re-think this whole Eliguk idea....I'm going to bed." "click" My heart sank....it felt more like a nightmare, not a dream. How could this be happening? Obstacles have always been a part of our life, like a very regular sometimes everyday occurrence. We have always struggled all our lives and it's why we are so tough and always have to think and act outside the norm. Living out of our comfort zone is where we live. To hear the words Aron was saying felt like he was wanting to give up before we even got a chance to start. I took me 5 minutes to clear my head and start planning. I made several calls to all my connections in the area. John & Mary Lou Blackwell who own Moose Lake Lodge fly over our lake almost everyday. After a call into Mary Lou at Anahim, she had John on his way to Eliguk with a can of gas. I'd be damned if I was going to give up before I had even gotten there! I've always been the headstrong one and no matter how many times I'm kicked, I've never stayed down. It's just not in me. I knew my husband was exhausted, tired, hungry and hurting...we had all the food and supplies and I just had to get to him! Saying bye to the clan at PG - John, Bev, Lucille, Deanna & Attila was tough as I love them as family and was so emotional that I cried as I hugged them goodbye. We were on our way to Vanderhoof to meet Orenda who would provide us with a map and detailed instructions for our journey to Lamperts field.
MEANWHILE AT ELIGUK....
Aron woke to a banging at the door around 10:30am, he thought to himself...busy place for being off the grid at a remote location! When he opened the cabin door John Blackwell and his grandson were there to let him know they got a call from his wife (yep, that's me, lol) and dropped off some gas for him. They had a quick chat and they were off. Aron tried to go back to bed and only ended up restless after an hour, so he hiked back to the Jeep with his dog and the gas can - leaving the resort around noon. Headed back East on the Alexander Mackenzie Heritage Trail (aka Grease Trail). To hook up the trailer at the field and hit the road to the Lamperts. A few hours up the trail it ended, like all the trails in the area seemed to do, and he turned around and headed back towards the field. He hit a rocky waterhole and when he came out the other side there was no rattling noise anymore...trailer was gone! The bumper completely ripped off the Jeep - all 8 bolts pulled through! So he strapped the bumper back on to hook up the trailer to get it another km to the field.
This is where he spent a while trying to make a call on his new satellite phone where at the store he was sold on the fact it would never let him down as long as he was outside - there would be a signal. That phone let him down more than it had worked. After several dead calls he got a hold of John Blackwell, and asked if the trail he was taking to Lamperts was correct. John said, yes - that's it...it turns into bush but you just have to keep going. So Aron headed back down the trail a few hours and then started chainsawing his way through this horse trail. Finally an opening so big and wide it was a field filled with small lakes for as long as you could see. This must be Lamperts field. The Blackwater River ran along the edge of the faint track in the matted down grass that he was supposed to follow (this is a planted hayfield and you must stay on the path out of respect for the farmer.) It took a while to get through as it was anywhere from 1 to 4 feet deep in spots with a soft grass bottom. Sometimes you didn't know if you were going to get sucked right into the fast flowing river as it had breached it's banks and was flooding into the field. They don't call it the Blackwater for nothing. It's just that - Black, dark and bottomless looking. Finally he came to a road and to the right laid a bridge.
MEANWHILE IN VANDERHOOF....
We met Orlanda at 12:30 in Vanderhoof. She gave us a map and told us of her trip there last weekend on quads. They got in no problem. She led us out to the Kluskus and sent us on our way to the right turn at the 67km marker. So off we went down the dusty gravel road. Louise and I had acted out our "Thelma & Louise" roles the whole trip so far, but we still never found Brad Pitt. After the 50km marker the road turned into a wagon road, then into a muddy trail near the end. We were counting down the km's, we hit 66 and then there was a right turn. I stopped and said, is this it? We hadn't past the 67km marker yet?? Was there another right turn at the 67km marker. It was so muddy that we were already 4 wheeling with large trailers in tow. Now in hindsight we should have walked ahead to see if there was another turn. It didn't look like there were any fresh tire tracks down it so the group figured it wasn't the turn. After we went past km 67 my heart sank as I realized - it was the turn! We were headed down a mucky narrowing trail in the now pouring rain and we couldn't back up as we had to stay at a steady speed with the trailers just to stay unstuck.
The picture to the right is a better part of the trail,
before the rain had started to create mud bog holes.
We ploughed ahead a little panicked as the road
deteriorated even further and continued to narrow.
We had to create our own turn-around. We picked a
corner that had somewhat of a bank and cleared
trees. We inched our rigs in hair pin 10 point turns.
This put us behind almost 2 hours - and we were
completely soaked! There was plenty of wolf and
fresh bear tracks all around the area where we
were on foot. We had lost cell service hours ago, so
getting stuck out here with no traffic whatsoever is
not something you want to do. Taking the turn we
missed had us 4 wheeling a very muddy trail with
large puddles full of boulders you couldn't see.
This is the damage I did coming into
this trail, I hit a big rock buried in a water
hole. The water was so deep in spots
I floated the trailer which separated
the walls from the fender wells and
allowed water inside. All my wood
flooring is warped and damaged. That
middle shot was as good as the road got!
I always kept a tire over the high spots,
but most of these deep water holes it's
anyone's guess as to where the "land
mines" are! I guess after seeing the
damage Aron had did to his Jeep, I faired
pretty good...after all I'm still alive and so
is my diesel :)
We came to a crossing that was not pointed out on the map, but a large branch had looked to be placed across it pointing out which was the right road. I mean it was obvious this limb hadn't fallen there so we kept right and continued on. The ground got softer and we entered a field, a very wet flooded field filled with little lakes. I stopped my rig just short of an incline to a bridge. It was a scary bridge with missing boards and a few boards sticking up. The river below was BLACK, fast flowing and well over it's banks and flooding into the field. I got out of my truck and inspected the narrow bridge. "No way am I taking this truck and trailer over that bridge", I said. I stared down at the water and envisioned my whole truck and trailer being sucked into that river. Denis got out of his truck and agreed with me. I didn't remember anyone mentioning going over a bridge. There was supposed to be a right turn before the bridge. But we hadn't seen any sign of a road. My diesel was under a half a tank, and we were stuck again with nowhere to turn around.
Drenched and now extremely worried about what to do we thought about taking the quads off to investigate further. To the right side of our trucks we noticed under the water that the grass was flat and looked like it could be a trail, but only looked to have been used once or twice some time ago. We laughed and joked to each other saying, "imagine if that was the road they were talking about?" LOL Then we thought, well maybe we will just take a little walk down it and see where it goes. Denis and I walked the wet trail, the water going well over my tall Muck boots, making my feet - the only thing still dry, completely wet. The trail went alongside the river and we were walking through very tall wet grass, sometimes you couldn't tell where the river ended and the banks began. After a few hundred meters we decided this must be the turnoff, and feeling brave decided to go unload our quads and make our way through the deep water. Not something I was looking forward to doing since it was at least 3 feet deep in some areas for long distances. As we were unloading quads we heard a deep voice yell, "Hey!" I looked up to see a man standing on the bridge who introduced himself as Walter Lampert. I was so happy to see him and I wasn't afraid to tell him so. "I could just hug you right now", I said. We felt rescued and relieved. I asked if Aron had got there yet because it was already 6pm. He said no, they hadn't seen or heard from him. Worried yet again about my husband's whereabouts as we had all the food, water, clothes, tools and supplies with us - I wondered how he was getting along. The plan all along was to meet in Lamperts field and cross it if possible and get as close as we could to Eliguk. We figured sometime between noon and 3pm to unload the big trailer and haul stuff in with the Jeep and trailer.
So Walt instructed us to come across the bridge, to which I said, "your kidding - right?" He said, "this is a Bailey Bridge, my dear...indestructible!" Ok, then I thought. I bounced slowly through the holes in the bridge staring down into that deep, black, fast moving water - said a few swears out loud and continued on. After the bridge the real 4-wheeling started. (here I thought we'd already been wheeling) NOPE! It was full on throttle, counter steering with a large trailer swaying back and forth! The mud and ruts were thick, deep and soft. But we all made it through and up to the Lamperts homestead. Walt and his wife Nora found a place for us to park and invited us into their warm log cabin. We peeled off wet clothes and warmed ourselves by the old cook wood stove, while I held my little shivering dog. The Lamperts have a big property with a little bit of everything collected over decades. One could learn a lot from these 2, having self-sustained all their lives out here. Nora raises horses, cows and chickens. She has a beautiful garden. They grow and harvest and refine their own wheat/flour. The list goes on. Walt can solve any of your medical issues and is quite the inventor. Either way these 2 offered up warm dry boots, clothes and hot tea while we anticipated Aron's arrival. It was around 8:00 pm and still no sign of Aron. Walt & Denis took the quads and some wood to see if they could get to a spot in the field and make a bridge to get over before dark as we were all worried at this point. We had used the Lamperts phone to call Aron several times and left messages.
Louise and I were outside trying to get organized and figure out what to do about sleeping arrangements and food. It was 8:30 when we saw the quads come back and then a moment later a blue Jeep appeared. I was frazzled, my nerves shot from the white knuckled ride, the possibility of being stranded myself wondering if I was going to make it, to the worried state I was in about Aron. I cried. Happy tears,.. but I finally had a breakdown. It felt so good to give him a hug, there really are no words I can say about how I felt in that moment. It didn't matter what I had left in this world, just that I had him holding me, right there and then. We all went into the homestead and Nora fed us all Roast Moose, carrots, peas, rice & her homemade squeaky cheese while Walter told us stories. Aron filled us in on his trip and told us the list of broken things on his Jeep. That night Aron and I slept in a high bunk in the Lamperts home and Denis and Louise opted to sleep in their truck.
That morning there was a change of plans. There was no crossing Lamperts field. Aron had crossed spots that were 4 feet deep, plus the trail was much worse on this side than it was coming in from the Anahim side. In hindsight we should have all come in from Anahim. Aron did some repairs on his Jeep, using Walts welding equipment and generator he welded his bumper back on so he could use his trailer. The damage to his Jeep was significant, he even lost his clutch pedal.
It was unanimous - we were all going to travel back around in our trucks and trailers to the Anahim entrance. Another 2 days of travelling. There was no way I was making the trip back without Aron, so he decided he would abandon his Jeep there (with permission from the Lamperts of course) and catch a float plane ride in to get it in 2 days. Including the trails at each end it was over 800 kms around. Louise and I got our outdoor BBQ's set up and whipped up a full breakfast for everyone. Aron gave Walt some supplies and gas in thanks for what they did for us, and we were on our way.
Aron got to see where I had taken his truck
first hand and I was praised for doing such
a good job taking care of his truck. He told
me he was proud of me (awww). We spent
all day driving and arrived in Williams lake
at 9:30 pm, struggled to find a hotel as
there was a conference in town - but finally
got a room at Coast Fraser Inn. We showered,
ate & had some much needed alcohol and
Coffee, muffins and time to find a float plane operator that we wouldn't have to remortgage the house for. After a few phone calls to the main float plane charters in the Nimpo lake area a friend had called in a favor and got a hold of Wayne Escott, most experienced pilot in the area. When Wayne had heard of our troubles he was willing to cancel his current days plans to meet Aron at the Nimpo Restaurant at 2pm and fly him to as near as Lamperts as he could get him, and gave us a price we couldn't refuse. (Thanks Wayne!) Denis & Louise decided to continue on with us as they were still eager to see Eliguk Lake.
So off we went bound for Nimpo Lake. No time to dilly day! Heading West through Williams Lake is where you lose cell service, literally as soon as you head up the hill out of town. Then there is no cell service until you get to Bella Coola right on the ocean. We made it to Nimpo lake with 10 minutes to spare. Wayne was just finishing lunch where his wife Dawn operates a cafe. That was another good coincidence as I just love Dawn, I look forward to seeing her every time I'm there. At the restaurant is where we also met Dan Schiller, Jeanette's son - whom we purchased Eliguk Lake Lodge from. He was so helpful and drew us a map and said he would stop by for a visit on Thursday. I stuffed a few chocolate bars and a bottle of water in Arons jacket and he and Wayne disappeared. The rest of us ordered a late lunch.
The wild horses are all over the
Nimpo & Anahim Lake area. The
whole Chilcotin is a free range
area. If you don't want cattle on
your land, it's up to you to fence
them out of your property.
Denis, Louise and I filled up on Diesel,
bought extra ice and headed out for
Anahim, enroute to the 65 km marker
shown on our map. It was back to
counting mile markers. This road was
better than the Kluskus. We passed by
Anahim peak, a gorgeous formation of
a mountain. (right)
The right turn after the double bridges we were back to some rougher terrain. It would have been fine for a 4x4 - but pulling the trailer brought you to a slow crawl at most. The road and landscape changed frequently, and every stop we made the mosquito's found us quicker! Out came my new herbal bug spray. I was always stopping and waiting to see Denis in the rear view as he disappeared often, and then he got a flat trailer tire. The rocks were sharp and jagged on the trail and it could happen easily. Good thing we had a few spares in tow.
On the road again, looking for the turns Dan instructed us to take. It seemed like it took forever as we were already at 6 pm. Have I mentioned that I wasn't thrilled at all to be separated from my husband and back to bashing on his diesel truck, yet - again! ARE WE THERE YET???
MEANWHILE IN THE SKY....
Aron and Wayne took off from Nimpo Lake and flew North for 20 minutes, Wayne told Aron that he was the original owner of the property we now own, when there was only 1 cabin on it, he sold the place to Moe Schiller. Another good coincidence I'd say! Wayne also noted that we picked the absolute worst time ever to get into Eliguk as he hasn't seen rain and flooding like this here in over 50 years! They circled to see what trail Aron would have to hike out, on and then landed on a small lake close by. After they landed they each paddled on a pontoon to get as close to shore as they could. The brush and trees prevented any shore landings. Aron had no choice but to take his hiking boots off, hold his pack over his head and jump out wading his way to shore. From shore he thanked Wayne, waved bye and started his mile or so hike through the bush to Lamperts.
I should add..."I've seen so many survivor reality shows with people who get special training - only to go home the first day. So proud of this man! He is the one I want to be stranded with. He can do things that no one else I know is brave enough to, and he constantly tests his own limits."
When he got to Lamperts, he noticed his Jeep was gone. After knocking on the door and speaking with Nora - she said that Walt had left in the Jeep to go pick Aron up when they saw the plane circling overhead. They chatted until Walt showed up figuring Aron must have got out on a different trail. He had no time to visit as he had a schedule to keep and meet us coming in from the other side. With a thank you to the Lamperts he was on his way. He had at least 25 kms to travel through the rough terrain before he would meet us. Out here, we've figured every 5 kms takes about an hour, or 3 hours, you just never know.
Going back through the water or small lakes in Lamperts field made the Jeep sputter some. He wasn't sure if water in the fuel was the culprit or if a sensor was acting up. After he got to drier land he played with some wires, checked some sensors, then the Jeep ran fine for while so he had to take it easy. It cleared up by the time he got to the field and hooked up the trailer and then headed our way to see where we would meet.
MEANWHILE SOMEWHERE IN THE CHILCOTIN....
It was creeping into later evening and we had past a significant amount of burn out area. The only recognizable thing was the mountain to my right resembled the Ilgachuz. Other than that you just keep getting that sinking feeling you may have taken a wrong turn as the roads deteriorated km by km. I didn't know how much more of this disappearing husband act I could endure? If he didn't pop out of a trail in front of me soon...then just like that - there he was! The blue Jeep had appeared from around a bend and we honked with pleasure! We all hugged, happy to all be together again and followed Aron to a safe place to park our rigs.
We were running out of light and we could take only what fit in the Jeep and on our quads. We were limited to weight as we would have to drive the quads through some deep waters. The plan was to trailer each quad across Irene as it was still too deep for a quad to cross. We packed the Jeep with a few coolers, booze, dogs and that was it. Aron led the pack in the Jeep followed by me, Louise and then Denis on quads. It was a crazy ride! I went through mud and a huge long water crossing that I thought should have been Irene. So many times I had to stand on my seat and pull on the handles to keep my quad floating. Louise was always behind me, but we waited on Denis at almost every crossing or turn. He lost his pillows and then the only drinking water we had fell off his quad as it wasn't secured well enough. Louise and I continued to amaze ourselves at our bravery. Then we met Irene. Wow! Glad we're being trailered through here! Each of us had a turn being passenger in the Jeep while our quad rode the trailer. You actually had to lift your feet up off the floor of the Jeep because the water came into the doors! It took about an hour and a half to get everyone across and then it was pitch black out. Then a little while later, came the Blackwater. I had crossed it a few times over a bridge, and walked along it's edge - but now got to see it's fast flow as I inched my tires straight into it. Aron knew I was nervous for this crossing, but I had to do it. As soon as Aron was across and clear in his Jeep, I ripped across, pointing my nose upriver so I wouldn't go downstream as the quad literally floated and was side swept at the deepest point. I feathered the throttle harder as the quad started to hesitate and before I knew it I came blasting out the other side - with a big smile on my face. Louise came right behind me. Denis stopped and stared at it in disbelief, I think he thought we were all crazy! No man left behind, we continued across the field to drop the trailer.
With the rain starting we repacked a few things and left the rest in the Jeep. Aron and I had to double on the quad and hang on to Murphy. Aron led, Louise followed, then Denis. Since Denis was in the back, Aron asked Denis to make sure the dog was following. Storm was going to run behind as he was too afraid to get on the quad. We all kept calling Storm as we headed out. 2 km's later we were worried that we couldn't see Storm as Denis was way behind so we stopped. It was hard to lead and be in the back at the same time making sure your dog is following. Sure enough when Denis caught up, there was no sign of Storm. Aron jumped off the quad and ran back a few kilometers calling his name. Aron stopped dead in the trail, hearing a faint cry. He headed into the forest and found Storm about 100 meters off trail huddled, whimpering and shaking under some brush in the dark. Aron's heart sank and he felt horrible about the trauma Storm went through. He carried Storm back to his Jeep put the dog in and headed to our quads. I will spare you the argument details. Lets just say the guys had words! Tired, sore and hungry we pulled our quads into the entrance of Eliguk, we had arrived! Aron walked in as the driveway wasn't cut wide enough for the Jeep. The mood wasn't so celebratory. After all we went through to get there and 4 days to do it in - the dog being left behind would create tension for a few days. It was 2am. I agreed to pan sear a steak for my man as he hadn't eaten all day. We all made up our beds and fell fast asleep.
Got up and made coffee. It rained all night and didn't look like it was going to let up anytime soon.
Started keeping a daily journal. Water is at it's
highest point now after another nights rain. We
have to hold tight today, because of the weather
Aron's not going for a load today. He's going to
clear the trail so his Jeep can get through. Denis
is still insisting they go home immediately as he's
feeling like they are going to be trapped here, and
he wants to go now before it's too late. Some of us
were trying to make the best of the situation.
There is plenty of canned food in the Lodge and we
have lakewater, wood, fire and a roof over our heads.
Even if you know things are getting rough the last
thing anyone wants to be reminded of is our worst case scenario all the time. With all the distractions I concentrated and remained focused. We started a fire to boil water, found a charcoal filter in the Lodge and used a clean t-shirt to pre-filter the water, in no time we had a few days worth of drinking water. Even found flavored powdered drinking crystals to make it taste better.
We found bleach and cleaned large glass jars and
starting filling them with our clean, filtered and
distilled water that we had boiled on the wood
stove. We all had wet clothes that needed to dry
as all our clothes were back at the trucks. We kept
water boiling for dishes and checked all the cabins
and Lodge for any supplies we could use.
We cooked over an open fire or the woodstove to save what little propane was left on site for lights at night, as our new tanks were...you guessed it - back at the trucks! I think Louise and I did a fantastic job. The spaghetti noodles and sauce were compliments of what we found on site still stored safely in containers. Full bellies all around. From the extreme workout and little food Aron got over the 5 days - he had dropped about 8 lbs. His pants needed a belt to hold them up. Being out there it's so easy to forget to eat because you just get busy doing things. I found it easy to lose weight as I didn't have much of an appetite. I prefered just grazing here and there and kept my fluids up. Aron chainsawed all morning and afternoon to widen the trail and brought his Jeep down to the resort. Louise hacked away with an axe clearing parts of the overgrown waterfront. Denis kept busy with the door on the cabin, trying to get it to close properly. It was a long day that was mainly spent organizing ourselves from a stressful journey. At least the guys were working out their differences and addressed the "elephant in the room".
The plan is to go get a load today rain or
shine, clothes are nicely dried out and we
are more focused- today is overcast and
light rain. Aron is still resting up as you can
see. He still gets coffee in bed, and I have
a hard time even getting him out of bed as
he deserves to just lay there all day! But we
are eager for our supplies so Aron and Denis head out with the Jeep. Halfway through to the field about 2 km out the Jeep just quit on a downslope right in the middle of the trail. Aron & Denis walked back and Louise and I knew right away what happened when we saw them hike in. Then it was harder than ever to keep people calm as that was the only vehicle that could cross Irene. Aron started making calls with the satellite phone to get a few suspect Jeep parts sent to Anahim airport from Williams Lake. Am I happy that my husbands a mechanic by trade? You betcha! Aron and I have been together for 23 years - I know what he is capable of and back home they didn't call him MacGyver for nothing! No one went 4 wheeling without Aron, he can carve engine body mounts out of trees with chainsaws. True story.
Aron left with the quad and trailer and was headed to Dan's cabin. The rest of us decided we needed some fresh fish for dinner. We decided to take turns fishing. We had one rod, and a small ice fishing rod but no tackle (it was back at the truck). After searching everywhere we came up with a few choices - one of which was of no use at all, lol! I caught and landed a fish on my 4th cast with the red & white spoon lure we found. Denis cleared some brush on the lake shore and then tried his luck fishing in the boat. He came back with a trout so we kept them in water until dinner.
Back to worrying about where the hell Aron was. It had been almost 8 hours since anyone had seen him, seems to be the story of my life lately... I need to put a beacon on that man! Everyone had their input to his whereabouts, and I had said - "if I know my man, like I think I do...then he went back for a load."
We heard a quad coming and Aron pulls in dirty, wet and weighed down with a full load from the trucks. He had done the whole trail, river crossings and all on the quad and trailer. After he couldn't find Dan's cabin he just headed for the trucks. It's not like he could take anyone with him and he knew how badly everyone wanted supplies. At the trucks he had to go through everything and pick the most important items to bring back. When he went to look for Denis's hidden key for his truck it wasn't there, he needed it to retrieve their cooler of meat. At least we had enough in our cooler for everyone to get by. At this point however our ice is getting low and the coolers aren't as cold as they should be. So we unpack, get Aron in and changed and by the fire to warm up. We have a drink, pan fry up some fish and he tells us all about his
journey. The most memorable part was coming
back with the full load, crossing Irene, he was so
weighed down he sank and jumped off the quad.
It immediately floated back up and he literally
dragged the quad and trailer through the river
crossing and amazingly the quad started up at the
Feeling much better about having some crucial
supplies we sleep a little better that night
It stays really light out late into the night this far
North/West. It's light out until 10:30pm, and I could
never stay awake long enough to see the milky way.
The 6-8" foam beds in all the cabins are amazing! I've had the best sleeps I've ever had in my life right here in the cabin. I suppose being snuggled deep in sleeping bags with a cold nose, windows wide open, moonlight shining in and the loon calls echoing up and down the lake really add to the ambiance!
Mmmm...Pancakes, bacon & pure maple syrup. Cooked on the woodstove.
OK! Time to get serious and get some work done. After all we came to clean and prep cabins, clear brush, get a water tower built, water running and cabins stocked. So far we haven't really accomplished anything. Louise and I stake out cabins and try to decide how to house the 12-15 men coming in August. Options are limited, as so many cabins are in disrepair and we don't have all the tools required to fix them. Bats have overtaken many of the cabins. One large 3 bedroom cabin that can sleep 9 is in good shape, however the stairs are caved in and we can't access it well. I let Aron know our dilemma and with limited tools he takes his chainsaw up into the bush. Louise and I get another cabin cleaned and prepped. A while later we check on his progress...
Not having the proper carving tools, he sharpens one of his pry bars to use as chisel. Not many people have their own personal hero, but he's mine :)
Dan Schiller and his father in law stopped by on quads and Dan toured us all over the property giving us insight as to it's history, property markers, and answered any questions we had. We sat in the cabin, had a drink and chatted. Dan holds the record amount of trout caught in a single day - and it still stuns me to write it out 464! HOLY - WOW!! My arms would have detached from my body after the first 100! I had been asking everyone in the area what "eliguk" means, so far no one has been able to answer. Of course Dan knew,...it means "Fish Bone", hence the title of this blog.
It's always nice to have company stop by literally in the middle of nowhere! Aron called Dave at the airport to confirm when his parts would arrive from Williams Lake. He said 10am. Denis and Louise decided they would head out with Aron in the morning and travel back to Kelowna. So we BBQ'd steak bites, cooked baby potatoes and had a caesar salad. Sat around the fire, enjoyed a few drinks and had an early bedtime.
The Loons had caused a ruckus early that morning and had me up at 4:30am, they weren't just doing their normal calls. Dan said that means a change in the weather or a system coming in. Thinking it was at least 6:30am according to the light out the windows, I got up and put the coffee on and to my surprise it was only 4:30am - Oops! Now that I had everyone awake with all my rustling, (we share an open cabin) I announced the time and they all let out a groan. I turned the propane burner off for the coffee pot and crawled back in bed. Aron repairing cable on the windmill atop the boathouse, Denis is in the background fishing - I think that spot is where he cut the rope to the anchor he couldn't pull up. Good thing it was floating rope! We rescued it a few days later.
Before long 7:30am came we said our goodbyes. Aron towed out a load of recycling and I wouldn't see him until later afternoon (if all goes well). It was just me, the dogs and my trusty rifle. I sent a grocery list with Aron mainly ice & meat. If there's one thing I miss the most, it's not flush toilets or running water...it's ice for my drinks!
Time to get some work done. Cleaned and organized the cabin and supplies. Did laundry in the sink with water heated over the fire, hung everything outside to dry, swept and washed floors. Washed and braided my hair and had a nice hot sponge bath. Cleaned and organized the coolers. I learned not to keep vegetables in the cooler with ice as it keeps them too wet and they rot fast. Cleaned them up and stored them in a dry bin under the sink. Put the lettuce in glass jars with water where they lasted another week.
I had no problem keeping myself busy all day. Just
like the loons had predicted the wind changed
direction and was blowing from the East, and shortly
after that a thunderstorm rolled through. Then the sun came out and it reached 22 *C . Aron came just as expected 5pm in the quad and trailer in tow with another full load. He was dry! He stood on the quad seat crossing Irene. It was a long drive for him and he had his Jeep parts, more food and supplies to last us another week. Denis & Louise were just going to throw out the contents of their meat cooler so Aron took it to see what we could salvage. It was still cold so we added what we thought was edible to our cooler. We decided the prime rib had to be eaten first.
Storm was not to be trusted by the grill!
He had previously swiped a smokie clean
off it days before. Burning his lips and
tongue did not teach him anything. So as
things are cooking on the grill he drags
himself around the fire and moans. Don't
feel sorry for the dog - he stuffed himself
daily on what we couldn't eat or keep fresh.
As I BBQ each night outside, I'm treated to
this amazing sunset over the Ilgachuz.
Isn't life great?
Our 6 resident loons were very noisy around 11pm tonight, and wouldn't you know it...a thunderstorm rolled in around 2 am. Who needs a weather station?
Sunny and clear at 7am and 12*C. The 10 or so resident white Pelicans are across the lake perched on the South bank catching the morning sunrise. The North side of the Ilgachuz that face our resort are snow splashed and majestic. The Ilgachuz Range is a name given to an extinct shield volcano in British Columbia, Canada. It is not a mountain range in the normal sense, because it was formed as a single volcano that has been eroded for the past 5 million years. It lies on the Chilcotin Plateau - to which I have the pleasure of keeping an eye on!
Have I mentioned the jumping trout? When the lake is still, you can see at any one time about 20 rings across the lake as trout jump clear out of the water to catch flies. The sound of them doing this almost mimics waves lapping the shoreline. Just an incredible sight, right from my balcony.
Aron cleaned and tuned up the honda water pump, and then we headed out with the new Jeep parts by quad to see if we could get our stranded Jeep home. We just had a light rain and back in the bush the mosquitos were thick. I used a shrub branch and constantly rubbed Aron down from head to toe while he worked under the Jeeps hood. The first part he tried that he suspected the most was the crank sensor. When Aron opened the box it was the wrong part! All the other parts were for a 1994 YJ - this one was for a 1984. It took 3 days to get this part deep into the wilderness...but let's try all the other parts just in case. One thing I know about being in the remote wilderness with Aron, is that in a pickle he is a top pick of someone you want to be stranded with. So, in the other parts he ordered a coil. The Jeep has an aftermarket Aurora ignition system, so he bypassed it and just used a stock coil, but needing the proper plug ends he had to tear apart our CB for its connectors, and with some splicing...the Jeep started! YAY! We were on our way to fetch our 1000L water tote from the field and head back to camp.
East end of Eliguk "the field".
Home to a family of Bald Eagles. A
few days ago we watched an Osprey
dive for a fish and an Eagle chased
him down for his lunch. They are
already eyeing up my little
Paperanian, and he knows it. Murphy
lays under chairs and tables. I hope
he's always that smart!
Back at the resort we continued clearing brush. The lake was calm and we decided it was a good opportunity to go get one of our docks stored at the West end of the lake. It had reached 28*C, so I was happy to get out on the lake. Here is a little slide show of the beautiful ride....
On the way back to the resort with the dock in tow, I was just about to jump to shore with the rope as Aron gave the motor an extra shot. The recoil action of the dock behind lurched our boat back and I was propelled out onto the rocky shoreline, and bounced off the rocks into the water. More bruises to add to my increasing collection! I was soaked...
A little bruised, but ok!
We cooked chicken over
the fire and made a caesar
salad. Prepared a priority
"TO DO LIST" for the coming
week and were fast asleep
Laying in comfy beds with flannel pj's, on flannel sheets covered in layers of heavy quilts topped with a sleeping bag and a cold nose from the open windows - priceless!! Best sleeps ever! But add a smiling husband, 2 dogs spread across the bed and 6 loons calling from the lake with your coffee percolating... I just might be in heaven! This is what life should be like...no alarm clock, no 9-5 job. I would happily give up flush toilets for this life! Without the distractions we face daily in the city, you can easily reconnect and re-kindle a relationship out here. But - you both must be outdoor savvy! Sunday traditions in our home mean it's Bacon, Eggs & Toast...but camping you are allowed to do that whenever you want. Everything tastes better when you are in the wilderness.
I tried to get the old radio working, sure miss my
CBC radio Sundays Vinyl Cafe show with host Stuart
McLean. But the radio we found here was coming
apart at the seams - so no luck. I spent the morning
singing and whistling away. Murphy played into the
lazy Sunday morning as you can see by his nap on
the front porch.
We hung our new large solar light above the kitchen table, hope to play some cribbage tonight on the crib board I discovered in the Lodge. Aron finished clearing the brush from the front of the property- some of the pines have reached 15' tall and are so thick you can't walk through them. We tagged a few keepers to keep by the waterfront. Then he replaced the broken screen on the cabin door, that will help keep mosquito's out. It's noon and 20*C.
12:30 - We left in a boat with one in tow for the East end of Eliguk to pick up the last of our supplies back at the truck. Reaching the East end, we pulled the boats up through the weeds and started our short hike with the dogs to the Jeep parked by the old cabin at the field. All around us we could hear a steady hu, their collective sound mimicked a swarm of bee's. Looking up into the trees all you could see was swarms of mosquito's thousands in every direction. I really prefer my end of the lake...we walked briskly! The Jeep ride took us back across the fast moving Blackwater, across Irene, and 8 km of rocky trails and flooded swamps. At the truck we spent over an hour packing our Jeep and trailer to capacity and then some!
I collected another few bruises for the other side of my body. Aron was passing the tip of the canoe
down to me. Just as I said "I got it", (looking up at the canoe), Aron let's it go and I trip over a stump and land on a pile of sharp rocks - the canoe landing just beside me. Being a medic isn't going to help if I'm the one always getting hurt! However it did get me a hug and a time out from packing. Here's a bunch of photo's heading back to Eliguk...
We were so weighed down we could have
walked faster than we drove - even the
mosquito's were catching us! The water
levels were all 2 feet lower than Aron's first
night through, and were not even at Irene,
Then, Irene showed herself.
It's hard to imagine
only a week ago, this
was making waves
across the Jeep's
windshield! I'm sure
Autumn would be a
much drier drive.
Only 2" of water came
into the cab. But any-
thing we want kept
dry, cannot be on the
bottom of the trailer.
Not far after Irene - the Blackwater. Of course
I kept missing shots of the deepest holes. My
only regret? Not investing in a dash cam!
Then we made our way across the field and down the trail to our awaiting boats. Taking boats from here saves us from driving several loads down the rough 5km trail behind Eliguk that is too narrow for the Jeep pulling a trailer.
We filled the canoe with heavy items and I
pushed as Aron pulled. It didn't go as well
as planned through the wet spongy moss.
Loading all the boats took as long as packing
them in the trailer. We couldn't take it all
and would have to come back another day.
The boat ride home was slow as we were towing a very full boat plus the over weighted canoe. Pushing it puts the canoe into a whip, which we want to avoid. We notice how dirty and grubby we are after our long day - so I came up with "couples that get dirty hands together, stay together". Dirty or not, Aron still kissed the back of my hand.
We arrived back at camp at 8:30, I whipped up a quick cast iron skillet dinner of seared pork loin in a mushroom sauce with rice and then we unpacked the boats and canoe with little light left. That night we had a few drinks and played crib under our beautiful new light, without using propane :)
At 7am - it's 12*C and so foggy I can't even see the waters edge, It took an hour for the fog to lift. We sat with coffee's and Bacon & Eggers and discussed the work left and only a few days left to do it.
I have not complained even once about
fetching buckets of water from the lake,
heating it up on the woodstove to do the
dishes. There is something about it that
is very comforting and methodical. It's
rewarding in the fact that you aren't
paying an electrical company money
every move you make. I've adjusted to
the routine of it all quite easily. With the
effort we just put in to get our things out
here, everything is used sparingly and you
cook over a fire at every opportunity!
Aron's got the organizing bug today, since it looks like a drizzle on/off day he's been puttering in his tool shed (used to be a guide outfitter bunkhouse). It was full to the top with garbage, picked over and now that Aron's in there it's looking quite organized. It's hard to believe we are taking more garbage out than items were bringing in! Piled some brush and extended the ramps to the 2 docks. Since we are on holidays, we take time for an afternoon drink and some cribbage.
It's proven to be a bad day for planning fresh fish for dinner. The winds has changed direction 3 times and the wind has picked up creating big waves. Aron fixed the hump in the floor (cabin #3) by replacing the middle support beam with a shorter one. It was a little unnerving watching him
dislodge a cabins main support beam while he's under it - at least the cabin door closes properly now. He changed all the screens on the windows and rebuilt the door lock. Replaced all door handles and locks on the tool shed - finished up a lot of little miscellaneous things today. I got out the magic tool again to make dinner - that cast iron pan has never let me down. Instead of fish, we had filet mignon & linguini. The bush is so wet we decide to burn our brush tonight, with a favorable breeze blowing over the lake. It was a good night, all went well. I came in to catch up on my journal at midnight and Aron stayed up to tend the fire. I snapped a shot of the sky as the full moon rose because it reminded me of fish fillets in the sky. Then before bed I took a picture of Aron out with his fire....
We were woken up at 4:30 am by what sounded like a sack of hammers hitting the floor. "Storm" our dog had fallen off the bed. He was a bit stunned, but ok! We all decided it was a good time to go visit the outhouse. I'm glad we did - the full moon was spectacular, and you didn't need a flashlight to go outside.
We finally awaken at 8am, there's a gentle breeze, full sunshine and it's 12*C. Aron had burnt all the brush down to a small pile of ash last night. It sure looks amazing here now. I'm finally used to the silence here. When you first come from a city, it takes a good 4-5 days to get used to the silence. I'm talking "dead silence". It took a few days for the ringing in my ears to go away. With no electricity - there is no "white noise". Nothing running, humming unless you hear a mosquito fly by. Without the calls of the loons on a still day all you can hear is your breathing and your heart beating. My ears tend to always have a fluttering noise in them - but after a week in the wilderness, nothing but pure silence. It's much more like coastal weather here than I expected it to be. At 3500' in elevation on the Chilcotin Plateau I had expected it to be like a Northern BC region. If the wind blows hard enough from the West the gulls end up here over the coastal mountains. Aron cleaned and organized the boat shed - OCD is a good trait to have in a husband as long as he stays out of my kitchen! I think we counted about 30 old lifejackets in there. It would be nice to get some of those newer floatation devices. I cleaned the garbage out from under the cabins, and boy is there lots of it. For lunch today we had a craving for an old camp favorite - Franks & Beans.
My dogs look like there from an old western! lol. I'm off to clean cabin #3 - dusting beams, filling gaps with insulation & cleaning bat dung (guano). Something we need to build soon is a bat house. You don't want to displace them, you really want them around with all the bugs they eat. I'll be heading to the tool shed for a face mask.
Aron has made his way up to the back of the property past the cabins to build a new water tower. When I got there he had already made stairs and a platform. The things he tries to do alone amazes me. If I hadn't offered to help, I bet he would have just strapped the 1000L water tote to his back to bring it up the tower. Instead Murphy and I winched it up with the quad. On the ground you can see remnants of the old water tank. The last 5 years or so everything was neglected here and just seemed to have deteriorated.
Finally lifted the water tote to the top of the
tower at 7pm. Stopped for dinner. The order
in which food thawed first in the cooler would
dictate what was for dinner. Aron would spend
the later evening repairing the water pump
that wouldn't stay running. Earlier he had
found an ignition coil in the tool shed for a
Honda labelled 2004 - now he knew what it
was for. After replacing that it ran fine. We
had a routine now of playing at least one game
of crib before bed. Don't miss the TV one bit!
It was a long night. I wasn't used to hearing the creaking of large pines and the whistling of the wind. What kept me up in between that was the occasional mosquito buzzing around trying to land on my face. Our screen door was left open today for some time yesterday, thanks to Storm who can open doors and figured falling asleep halfway through the threshold of the doorway acting like a doorstop was a good spot for an afternoon nap. I would wake up when I heard Aron try to slap one in his sleep, and unless he said "gotcha", I knew it was coming for me! I had bought 6 mosquito canopies for over the beds but just never unpacked them, now regretting that decision. It's overcast this morning at 8am and no surprise it's 12*C - doesn't seem to matter if it's sunny or not, it's been a consistent 12 degree week! We packed 2 boats with our returning items. 2 empty coolers, gas cans, chainsaw, garbage and recycling. Aron would head to the end of the lake, and return with the last of our items left at the Jeep. He left at 11:30, still windy with choppy water with only a 6hp motor. (lake is limited to 9.9hp).
As a forager I spent some time getting to know the local wildflowers, herbs & spores. I was worried about bringing a bee colony here, but after seeing the amount of wildflowers in the area, I was delighted! First of all the groundcover is Wild Clover, and the major shrubs are Wild Roses with Oxeye Daisy, Giant Red Indian Paintbrush, Yarrow, Balsamroot, Dwarf Dogwood (Bunchberry), Fireweed, Wood Strawberries, Western Anemone, Buttercup, Wintergreen, Pearly Everlasting, Blue Hyssop, Kinnickinnick, Orange Hawkweed, just to name a few right at the resort. I was shocked to see so much Wild Pink Spirea (maybe Goldflame?) Anyhow my biggest delight came with all the wild mushrooms with too many varieties to name.
Aron pulled up to the dock with our last load at 2:30. The lake was rough, so travel was slow going. He also fixed the trailer while he was there. I posted all my Private Property signs on the front of the cabins as per our insurance company. Put up a few trail cams to catch any new theft or vandalism. Locals have been using this resort as a free place to camp, helping themselves to propane and use of the boats. But after making a big purchase such as buying the resort, all of it's equipment and hauling out all of the supplies - FREE it will not be! If someone wanted to trade labour for a vacation,.. I would consider that.
Aron fired up the water pump, filled up the tote and proceeded to fix the dozens of broken lines connectors and hoses that had turned up all over the resort like an automatic sprinkler system had been activated! Some pipe led to nowhere and some of the 8 cabins had the plumbing completely tore out. This took Aron all afternoon and all evening - we were on a time crunch so he worked with a headlamp on until coming in for dinner at 10:30pm.
Had to use up the rest of the chicken
and lettuce. There was never a
shortage of bacon! Chicken Caesar
salad is my favorite meal. I would
struggle to stay awake long enough
to do dishes and Aron fell into bed
Woke up to a calm lake & sunshine at 7:30am and it's usual 12*C. I took my coffee & camera outside to get some shots of the mountains, Aron took his fly rod to the water. From the resort looking South you can see 3 very distinct Mountains all known for their geology and part of the Anahim Belt. Below is the stunning Ilgachuz Range, known for its rare Woodland Caribou. The range remains in a fixed position, while the North American Plate drifts over it at a rate of 2 to 3.3 centimetres per year. Ilgachuz ranges lie in the rainshadow of the Pacific Ranges, and this, when combined with the very cold and dry climate of the Chilcotin Plateau and the volcanic soils of the ranges, create unique plant communities found nowhere else in British Columbia.
In the middle you can just
see Anahim Peak, known
for it's Volcanic cone shape
made of Obsidian.
To the right - the Rainbow Mountain Range, an 8 million year old shield volcano. The range gets its name from the intense and varied colours of its terrains' volcanic lavas and sands from heavy mineralization. It's why our lake is so black with volcanic rock as a bottom, and drinking the lakewater revitalized one with more minerals than a vitamin tablet could ever provide!
Aron caught himself a nice trout and pan
fried it for breakfast, while I had crepes and
read some old books I found...it was a good
morning cleaning up with running water!
Company stopped by today, Doug Clarke a pilot from Tweedsmuir Air who owns the cabin down the lake from us. A very nice man who will watch over our place when he flies in, and sometimes that can be at least twice a day! We will reciprocate of course.
Time to finish up some last minute chores for our departure tomorrow. Back in it's day when the Schiller's ran a booming operation - it was a well kept resort. Somewhere between 2007 and 2015 it was leased out, and that's when it fell apart. It was not maintained and has made our start with it a difficult one. But we knew the challenges we faced when we purchased it this Spring. Then with the break in & theft we felt vulnerable - but with so many locals now aware of the theft and our stepping into the resort as new operators they are watching out for us and we feel much better knowing that! It's a diamond in the rough and we hope to make it shine again.
It's going to be sad to go as i've finally adjusted to this life after a few short weeks. I will take home these memories so I will be eager to come back. Plans of building a greenhouse and re-locating our chickens we've been raising in the Okanagan is in the works. Along with the complete overhaul of the Lodge and new tin roofs on the cabins. It takes great courage, strength and an awesome life partner to be able to survive here. It's not for the weak of heart or mind. If you don't like being out of your comfort zone, then this place is not for you.
We stacked the boats neatly on shore, away from the cabins. Locked all the cabins and cooked everything we had left in the cooler that wouldn't survive the journey home as we were out of ice.
Best stovetop view I've ever had! We BBQ'd chops, roasted beets, potatoes & onions, cabbage & bacon and ate until we were stuffed. We kept the campfire going and sat before it, drinking and talking until it was dark as the waning moon rose above us. Aron howled at the loons and they called back every time. We spoke of our plans for the future, our plans here at Eliguk and held no regrets. Time for one last game of cribbage before bed.
6:30am came way too fast! It was cold last night and I was surprised to see it was only 8*C and was happy to light a fire in the woodstove and take the chill out of the air. Coffee was percolating over the gas stove. Aron and the dogs still tucked away in bed. This day will see us leaving, for now. We fit everything we needed on the quad that would taked us 5km around the lake to our Jeep, where Storm happily followed along. I would continue all the water crossings by quad and Aron would take the Jeep. What will I miss the most? Too many things obviously. The silence, the beauty, the smell, the hard work ethic of the outdoors. I know the one true rare occurrence I will miss most, is the alone time I got to spend with my husband and best friend. We are convinced we have found the path to our incredible journey to our future. Stay tuned for our next visit to Eliguk. Want to join us here at the resort? Contact us by phone at (250) 765-0111 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org