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 easily...)
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. Map of BC shows our routes for the trip...
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....
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 Dodge 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, and she rides everyday. 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.
After 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 thr 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 closeby. 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.
Continued in "Part Two"...
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