Friday, October 22, 2010

The Day Arjun Walked out of the Woods: Oct 15

It's about 45 degrees when we awaken, but soon the light changes everything. And please note the tops of that same mountain shown yesterday--they're white.

So is the peak behind our campsite.  Snow.

Glorious streams of sun warm morning fire-building and wood collecting. Hot coffee helps. Look at the clarity of the water here, with submerged timbers.

It's a beautiful day.

We walk a nearby path for wood. More giant trees, more tree frogs.

Ferns everywhere too.

What would you do on a day like this? I'm going to try to catch a fish that was taunting me yesterday. It would periodically arch out of the water in a perfect curve and splash down with a great noise, breaking the silence, just 10 yards out in the water. Perfectly brown and perfectly formed. A trout?

So today on our wood walk I also hunt for a fishing pole (did we bring one? no. would that have been easier? yes.). Back at the site, I find a nice green stick with a line already attached. Good deal. Turning to the first aid kit, I land on a hook--one of those barby metal pieces that holds an Ace bandage in place. Boy it's sharp.

I'll use ham as bait. Can't cast out far enough to let it do much, so I jig it around and get the hook caught on a log. At least I know it works. (I can taste that fish.)

Next I try a bobber approach, which also works well but I still need a boat or raft to get out where the fish continues to jump. Add to the list for next time.

The day is shaped almost entirely by the sun and its warmth, and by the fire. Art keeps it going all day. With cool air temps and warm sun, we're grateful for the fire's warmth when a cloud passes over. Meantime, all this tackle prep is making me hungry.

Lunch today: Pecorino Romano grilled cheese with cipollini onions from our farmers market in Wicker Park + bean salad with kidney beans and steamed greenies and yellow pepper.

Art walks the pole out to a deeper spot. I will report that I did get a bite (my brothers will never believe this, but it's true).

We drink in the view.

Then, we hear a car pull up through the woods. It's so still here you hear everything quickly and distinctly.

Two friendly folks, Al and Sally, took the gravel road wondering why anyone would camp back here. They'd never visited and were curious. Now they know. Al works at a BC visitor center and is happy to know about this back country site. Plus, they were most informative on points of interest, including Telegraph Bay and the First Nations island with a fabulous museum (including original artifacts taken away by the government and then given back) adjacent to another purchased by a Finnish group to start a commune around the turn of the last century.

When the school bus heads home, they say, all the dark-haired kids are dropped at the native reserve and the blond-haired ones on the Finnish island, still populated by descendants of the first communers. We wish we had time to visit.

It's a vigorous day building up the wood stash for tonight. I've given up on my fishing project unless that brown trout jumps into my frypan.

Art gets a few more shots of the snow-topped mountains. Double click the second one and the tree line is clearly visible.

It isn't much past 4, sitting at the fire, that we hear the first shouts: Hello! (Hello back.) And again. Then, though we can't see anyone on the opposite shore, more clearly we hear: do you know how to get across the lake?

No, called we (astonishing how sounds travels)--no boat and no idea. About an hour later, into our campsite walks a thoroughly drenched Arjun, a Bangalore, India, native by way of Bremen, Germany. It's all quite confusing. Arjun repairs to the woods to change into dry clothes and when he rejoins us at the fire, he tells his story.

A 25-year-old PhD candidate working at Germany's Max Planck Institute, he'd disembarked a research vessel in Victoria on which he'd been consulting in his specialty--photons, light, and processors (I think)--working with a team on a robotic submersible looking at ocean-bottom forms of life. The mission had to do with connecting fiberoptic cables on the ocean floor so the submersible could be controlled by various facilities around the world.
 So how did Arjun come to be a bit turned around in our deserted Schoen Lake woods? A nature loving walker, he'd taken a bus all the way from Victoria to Nimpkish just north of where we are with a borrowed tent and pack, loaded up on supplies and literally started walking in this old-growth forest from where a logger dropped him on the main road. It's his first visit to North America and he wanted to see some of it.

Intrepid Arjun walked for a couple days, camping in the bush during the rainy 48 hours just before we arrived. Suffice to say he was happy for our hot fire after a dunking in the cold river feeding Schoen Lake. The way across turned out to be not a dry one.

Bright and interested--and with fascinating stories of his life so far--we spend the evening drying out his clothes and sharing conversation. Come visit us in Chicago, Arjun.

1 comment:

  1. H2 - That photo of you with the fishing pole and the submerged logs is unreal, almost otherworldy stuff. Top marks. What a trip, can't wait to hear more in person.