Friday, November 2, 2012

Roads, Travel, Fear = Adventures

Walk into the woods. Keep walking. Walk off tracks. Do not plan where you are going. Take whatever directions appeal in the moment. Keep walking. When (without realizing) you are lost, look into the eyes of the dragon, then your adventure begins.
- Tom Watercrag, "Chucking Out Agendas and Thriving Again"
First it is a challenge. Secondly you have to learn to prepare meticulously, for your life may depend on the thoroughness and extent of your planning. You have to get off your tail and spur yourself to get going. You have to leave your comfortable slot and go out where things are rough. You have to push into the background the worry of the less likely hazards and make some bold judgements about the more probable ones.

You learn not to be frightened by fear. You discover what a fine piece of machinery the human body is and that it can take a tremendous amount of stress before it breaks down. You learn to make decisions and gradually you find your make fewer and fewer mistakes. Your confidence grows and you discover human resources which are ready to be called upon in time of future crises. You learn something about human frailties and develop sympathy for those weaker or less competent than yourself; you learn to make a team out of group of individuals.
- Lord Hunt of Llanfair Waterdine, KC, CBE, DSO

Today 2 November I decide to go find Cat Lake

On the spur of the moment Dalhouise and I were in the car driving north. I read somewhere that the entrance was near Brohm Lake so that was where I was heading. On the side of the road just a little tiny sign stating to turn right in 400m. No sign proclaiming that this was a provincial park – only a forestry service road. I drive this loose gravel bumpy road pass a single lane bridge over a fast moving stream. 

This scenery was worth the trip in itself. I drive further not sure if this was the route to Cat Lake or not. Eventually a pick up truck comes towards me – I stop the driver as he passes to ask him if I was indeed on my way to Cat Lake. Yes .. I am about 1/3 the way there and when I pull into a large parking lot that would be it: but I would have to walk to the lake.
Motivated now to keep going forward -on I go with the next fear attacking my mind. What if I blow out one of my tires – after all this was a rugged rocky road. Thoughts returned to Cyprus when myself and three fellow cooks rented a very small car and went touring. AWOL we drove and toured around with out a care in the world. We had money – we had a vehicle – we had a weekend off. We wanted to see as much as we could. We stayed on the main highways at first but then we decided to hit the back roads which led to a very difficult situation. Important lesson learned - not all roads lead somewhere. We drove from a paved road to a gravel road to a narrow dirt road going up. The steering wheel is on the right side of the car so I do not comprehend the danger at first. The road becomes more narrow – turns into a path. That created a problem – I could not turn around – on the left side is a major drop straight down a mountain. We discovered that by accident – a huge rock had rolled onto the road and we had to get out of the car – my friend if he had not hung onto the door would had slipped to his death – we could not get out on the left side. Well the boulder was rolled off the road and we had to keep going up – with the assumption all road lead some where – now that I knew the danger I hugged the right side of the mountain and that was when the first tired blew. No problem we changed it and kept going up. If I remember correctly within five minutes we blew the second tire. Now what do we do? Keep going up – no choice – no cell phones – no possibility of turning – and I certainly was not going to try to back down off the mountain. Well we drove with a flat tire to the top of the mountain and the road just stopped in mid air. There was space to do a three point turn and with help of my friends we did just that. Down the mountain we travel. Looking out my right hand window as I steer the car I see space – looking down I see the drop and this creates great fear. I hug the left side of the mountain and there goes another tire. Now I am driving on two flat tires so slowly down the mountain.. We drive back to the pavement and bump slowly to some houses. We call our superiors and ask for them to send help. We were told to wait.. and wait we did – all that day – all that night – all the next morning and finally late in the afternoon help arrives. We get our tires changed and we head back to the base. Rumors of our adventure had spread far and wide through out the army bases. AWOL – we were all to be back to work earlier that morning and so our sergeants and warrant officers had to do our work – Four low ranking cooks missing from two kitchens – and the troops had to eat. My sergeant wanted to punish me for the remaining of my tour of duty – but when we were brought up on court-marshal charges the base commander dropped all charges. We did everything according to protocol and it was an accident and we did called for help and if they had responded properly we would had been back in time.
That was then – today is now and here I am driving with no map on a rough service road once again. Not sure exactly where I am going, somethings never change. Well I do find the parking lot and off Dalhouise and I go. I follow the paths assuming like Alice Lake the trail will circle the lake. I take a couple of paths away from the main trail to look around – then it comes to my attention that I am not certain where this trail goes and that I am not prepared to get lost . I did not bring my day pack with compass, matches, drinks or food. I am not sure even how large this lake is but I decide to keep following the trail and keep the lake on my right side. Conquering the fear of getting lost I grow anxious about meeting a bear or cougar and yes my whistle is in the day pack. The park law is to keep dogs on a lease – no one is here I am all alone – it would be easier to let Dalhouise just run free – but then what if we meet a bear or a cougar or deer –I wanted him close to me – not sure what kind of protection I can offer but still I kept him on the lease. Dalhouise and I walked on and circled the lake in approximately an hour – when Noni comes back we will do this again together I am thinking.
Tomorrow I am making plans to hit the trails again, but this time I am bringing the day pack. I have loaded it up with fresh drinks – snacks – confirmed contents of whistle, matches, compass, map and hat. Thinking that I will leave Dalhouise home – but not sure just yet. Fear of meeting a cougar or bear is looming large in my mind these days – I think Dalhouise is bite size appetizer. 

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