I woke up this morning in a hotel room, but it took me a minute to realize that I wasn't going to put the same non-dry dry suit back on and beat through the woods for the day. I was kinda sad when I realized my day would be spent eating up the Trans Canada Highway instead. Right now there are big salmon spawning up the Atnarko, Grizzly bears feasting on fish, the cry of a loon and the roar of a river crashing through a burned landscape. Right now.
What was supposed to be a reasonable two to maybe three-day 40km river trip morphed into a four-day battle involving epic amounts of flatwater (couldn't drive as close to the river as I had hoped, so we paddled across a big lake), a really, really big grizzly bear with a salmon over a meter long in its mouth standing 5M in front of me in the river (and I didn't have anywhere to go but toward the bear in a creek less than two meters wide--I decided flipping over would be the best move if the bear got surly), more log jams than I can remember, hundreds of portages around log jams, getting lost in a swamp, loons, and the general realization that paddling rivers through recent burns is likely a bad idea. But I loved every minute of it. For some reason I need to get way off the grid both mentally and physically at least a couple of times every year. There's just something deeply meaningful about traversing wild country that resonates with me. Life gets very simple, and the goal everyday is very clear: to make progress, and to survive. That is enough, and everything.
South Tweedsmuir park and the Chilcotin have really seized ahold of me. It's a truly wild place with engaging terrain and a real frontier feel about it. I saw a few other things in the area I need to get back and check out, I'l get on that as soon as the bruises, cuts, and tendon issues heal up. I'm thumped, and slowly heading home. It's really amazing how comfortable and pleasant driving my truck can seem after a good solid bit of recreation. I definitely do not need any more recreation for a week or two.
Thanks to Mark at Redshreds in Williams Lake (cool store and owner, stop in if you're in the area), and our stellar driver, Clint Fraser with Pine Point Resort, and Rolly of the same. It was a rough trip, especially if you were expecting more of a vacation-style river, thanks to the team we got down the river with. It was not an easy situation; I think I often "recreate" with a group of people who come from an alpine climbing or general background of, "It's going to suck, the only question is can we handle the suffering or do we have to pull the pin?" I'm starting to realize this is not a normal attitude in the non-alpine climbing world. I don't go out into the bush or the edge my known mental operating zone looking for "easy," I go looking for what's there and then deal with what I find. The process only gets more interesting as what I expect and what I find become more divergent. For me it's all about seeing things as they are, not as I want them to be, believe them to be from the outside, would like them to be, or think I deserve. What it is is what it is, now get 'er done. I think this is a common ethic in very narrow climbing world, but perhaps not so much in the rest of the world. I will do better.
One thing I will say is that the last couple of months of hard Crossfit workouts were great training for the trip. Crossfit is all about moving things around, pulling yourself up and down, jumping, and general "power" fitness. I had another physical gear on this trip I haven't had in the past, and it really helped. I don't think Crossfit is the solution for very specific fitness needs, but it's damn effective at prepping for the unknown and the general demands of life. I noticed that doing everything from putting heavy boats onto the roof of the truck (a clean and jerk) to powering up a shitty hillside through thick brush was easier. I'll ease out of Crossfit as the climbing season develops, but it's a good base to start from for sure. It also really shows me how lousy I've gotten at certain fundamental skills (jumping, squats, deadlifts). It's really easy to compensate for poor strength and skills without even knowing you're doing it. But if you're following an organized plan then those weaknesses are immediately shown, and you can fix 'em. Cool, I have things to fix...
Note--I don't have anything to do with Crossfit other than having done it at various points in my training.