Little Shack on the Hill

Life happens while renovating!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Adventure on the Trapline.

Some of you may recall that we own property in northern BC.  It is part of a huge trapline that my husband manages.  Most falls find us packing up the truck and heading north for a couple of months to live in our little log cabin up there. It  has become a springtime trip as well now as my husband, Trev, is retired and we can come and go as we please. 
It is a beautiful place. Our main cabin is located beside a lovely lake and I enjoy looking out the window at the scenery while I crochet and knit to my heart's content. As the cabin is quite remote, we have no electricity, no running water, no access other than by rough trail. It isn't everyone's 'cup of tea', but we love it. You can't get much more 'back to basics' than this. I wanted to share one of our adventures with you. This took place 2 years ago after we had been at the cabin for 2 months and were heading home. I shared this with our Facebook friends in bits and pieces, and my father in law was kind enough to save it all and make it into a single document. (Thanks, Ken!)

Our last full day here. Looking forward to home, showers, flush toilets, and mostly seeing family! But...we will miss our wilderness home too. The peace, quiet and simplicity of life here is something hard to find these days. As I type this, we are in the midst of a 'snowfall warning'. We've gotten a fresh couple inches so far, with more coming down. Hoping it doesn't add any problems to our trip out tomorrow. Off to pack things away out of mice-harm, give the chickadees and whiskey jacks all the leftover perishables, and then clean. Love to all!

Whew!!! We made it!! It was nip and tuck for awhile there, though. We closed up the cabin yesterday morning and headed onto the lake on the sleds. That's as far as one sled got. Just before our exit from the lake onto the trail, we hit the worst overflow EVER!!! Both sleds and the skimmer loaded with our gear sunk in almost a foot of slushy muck. After a lot of work, and with the help of a chainsaw winch we got Trev’s Tundra and the skimmer to solid snow. The old Yamaha is sittin' up to the seat in slush (now probably frozen), waiting to sink into the lake come spring. Rest of the story to follow.

So, the rest of the story....after we got the Tundra and skimmer of stuff out, and decided to abandon the Yamaha, we had to decide whether to go back to the cabin, which was just on the other side of the lake, and head out the next day, or have Trev go ahead with the sled, skimmer and Angel, the cat,  to the truck, unload the skimmer and cat and then come back and get Zac and I. Up until this year, we have only had the one sled, which, on our trip out, we use to pull the skimmer loaded with Sue and kids or kid. This year we were gifted the old Yamaha, and hadn't needed Trev to take the extra trip to the truck with our 'stuff' because I would be able to drive with Zac on the 2nd sled. Now we were back to our old mode of getting out, but the skimmer was already loaded! We decided that instead of having to unpack everything at the cabin and repack it again....Zac and I would start to walk out, which would keep us warm, and save a bit of time. So we set out feeling fairly up, because we had been able to get the one sled and skimmer out of what had seemed an impossible situation, and we were heading home! We walked along the skidoo trail, which is cleared of the deep snow, but is still walking on dry sand. After all the exertion of getting things unstuck, slogging around in the overflow, having walked back to the cabin for tools, and the worry of what to do, we were already pretty pooped. We were hungry and tired, but kept our spirits up as we walked, deciding what we would order from our favorite little cafe in Watson Lake. We talked about Christmas, family, the future...and kept on walking. It got to the point of tears, but we kept on walking, taking short breaks when we didn't feel we could take another step. Where was Trev? We kept listening for the got dark. We were way past where he should have been back for us. Saying we were exhausted would be an understatement. Something must have happened to keep Trev from coming back for us. I knew we had to keep moving or we would get cold, and if we waited and he wasn't able to come back for us, we'd be hooped. So, on we went, short break, walk some more...We passed landmarks, using them to gauge how far along we were. Eventually we came upon the skimmer sitting alone on the trail. Why would Trev leave it? He needed to unload it so he could come back for Zac and I. But, there it was sitting in the snow. More of the story later...

So, I left off with Zac and I finding the loaded skimmer sitting on the trail, abandoned.....we had a rest there, trying to figure out why it was there...could Trev have gone on without it because the trail was too soft and he was running over it to pack it more? Was it too hard to pull now? Was there a problem with the skidoo? A problem with Trev????? We were baffled! But there was no point waiting with it, because it needed to be empty for us to be able to ride in it. So, on we went. Next, we came to an old shed Trev had built years ago that had collapsed, so we knew we were getting close to the next lake which is where our little cabin is located. It was a matter of keeping foot in front of the other...just keep walking...We were sore, weary and hungry. Zac was amazing! He was soooo tired, but went on without complaining. We were having to stop to rest more often now. Sitting on the trail or a log by the trail, and just zoning out. The dogs were also exhausted by this time. They had started out running ahead, running back to they walked single file behind Zac or I, and when we rested, they chewed ice from their frozen paws. One or the other of us would snap out of our stupor and get us moving again. Then, we came to the trail that cuts off the main trail and heads out onto the lake that the little cabin is on and which we travel on with the skidoo in winter and canoe stuff from the little cabin and truck on in the fall. It is much easier taking the lake than the trail, but with the overflow on the other lake, we weren't prepared to risk using it now. I hoped Trev had stuck with that plan and hadn't decided to try it and was stuck out there. But, we could see that he had taken the trail, although by this point, his trail was covered by about 2 inches of fresh powder. Now, I need to finish my breakfast and go pack our hotel room stuff, as our truck has been jump started (another story), and we are headed south. I'll finish up tonight.

Ok, so now we are at the trail intersection that goes to the lake ....we continued on our journey taking the land trail that runs in the woods just off the lake. If for some reason Trev came back for the skimmer over the lake, we would at least see him pass and hoped he would see that we had taken the overland route. This part of the trail hadn't been packed by the skidoo going over it....Trev had only made one trip over it bringing the now sinking Yamaha sled in, which is much lighter than the Tundra, and had now passed over it again that day. It was much softer, making it harder going than the rest of the trail and at some places it was hard to tell he'd been through at all. We knew we were almost at the end of our trek which is probably the thing that kept us going. The last part of the trail winds away from the lake and onto an old cut line which is all grown up with small pines and willows. It seemed to take forever to get through this part. Our legs just didn't want to work anymore. When we finally came out into the clearing where we park our truck away from the road (until the snow depth makes it necessary to park it by the road, which was where the truck was now), there sat the skidoo. And there was poor Angel, our long suffering cat, still strapped to the back of it. (She was in a kennel that we wrapped in a blanket and then put inside a garbage bag, NOT sealed!). Now we were really worried. Why would it be here, still a ways from the truck? We decided we'd get Angel off the back and get down to the little cabin where we hoped Trev was. The question was why..... As we left the skidoo, me trying to carry Angel in her kennel, Zac breaking trail, as we now had no skidoo track at all to walk in, we noticed that Trev had indeed gone that way, but his tracks were fairly covered over by fresh snow. I was having difficulty carrying the kennel, so ended up dragging it by the end of the garbage bag. Can't imagine what Angel thought about that, but at least she would be with us in the little cabin. About 1/2 way down the trail that goes from the clearing to the lake and cabin, Zac heard Trev yell and yelled back. Trev met us all ready to hike back along the trail to meet us. He had a pack full of stuff he thought he would need to get us warm, fed and hydrated. But, instead we all headed back to the little cabin, very happy to be together. Once we had gotten inside, that's when I had a short breakdown...a few tears of relief, followed by much hugging and thanking God for safe keeping. It turned out that Trev had started out doing fine pulling the skimmer, but slowly it became more difficult. He was having to stop along the way to set off traps, and was trying to do it quickly so he could get back for Zac and I. The skidoo just didn't seem to have the power it should have and then started dying. Trev would have to keep restarting it. Eventually, he had to leave the skimmer. He was able to get it (the skidoo) to the clearing where it died again, and would not start. Now, remembering that earlier, we had all been slogging around in the icey overflow on the lake..., Zac and I had on snow suits made with water repellent fabric while Trev had on insulated coveralls. Trev had been wet through. By the time he got to the clearing, after all the dealings with the failing skidoo and him now being pretty chilled, he hadn't the energy to carry Angel to the cabin and needed to get warm and dry quickly. He was worried sick (literally) about Zac and I, thinking that we were also wet and would be freezing. Luckily, we were both dry apart from the bottoms of our snow pants which had gotten pretty wet. But our insulated rubber boots kept the wet away, and the temperature quickly froze our pants bottoms solid. Trev was imagining us wet like him, as well as tired, but we were just tired. 

In the end we were all safe and sound. The next morning, Trev went to see what could be done with the he skidoo. We figured it had probably overheated due to ice building up in the track after being in the overflow. Using our tiger torch, he was able to melt the ice and it started up just fine. He then retrieved the abandoned skimmer, took the stuff to the truck, then came for us at the cabin. Thanks to the highways maintenance guys out of Dease Lake, our truck got plowed out, jump started and we were in Watson Lake in time for dinner! It was nice to have a good meal and soft beds, but I think we appreciated the beds and cuppa noodles at the little cabin the night before more! So ends that adventure. And we thought last years trip out in -43C was hard! Lol!

And so ended our time that fall on the trapline. We have had other adventures on the trapline that have challenged our abilities, tested our strengths and pushed our endurance. Each time we come out of them on top, having learned more about ourselves, our abilities and what we can accomplish.

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  • At February 24, 2016 , Blogger Ken said...

    Thanks for the credit Sue. It seemed like a "no brained" to save such a great story.
    Having been there to accompany Trev in the early days of your trapping adventures, it is one of my favorite memories.
    Good luck next season!


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