Avalanche 22nd September 2013

Snow falling on the high peaks on the East side of Chilko Lake

Snow falling on the high peaks on the East side of Chilko Lake

I was up at 7 am just in case we had good enough weather to escape this beautiful haven – but it wasn’t. The wind was still strong and the pressure was down again, which meant that the winds would strengthen further. The peaks were now snow covered.

The water seemed quite innocent from the lee of our camp but a quick walk over the ridge confirmed that there was even more of a swell developing. It would have been very dangerous to continue and try to cross the lake in these conditions. We would have had to cope with a large beam sea and high winds while towing the small, less seaworthy, canoe. The waves were about a meter high and the random catabatic winds could easily have swamped it; not to mention the effect on the supplies stored in the centre of the Spirit Dancer II. I decided to head back to my maggot (an army term which seems quite descriptive of somebody in a sleeping bag) have a nap, which turned into a long sleep. I was lulled to sleep by the sound of the wind spirits walking on the treetops.

Later, over breakfast we talked about options. We talked about the possibility of going south to a point where the lake was narrower and from which it would be easier to get across; and there was a sandy beach further down on this side where we could at least set up a camp if we couldn’t get across. There was also a creek near the beach which would be better fishing should our supplies run out; and, of course, it would also give us a change of scenery. I quite fancied this option as it would get us a little closer to a natural way of living: water (and perhaps bathing opportunities) from the creek and fish from the lake. However, the wind would be a tough opponent and the safest option was to stay here. The wind was blowing from just west of south: in the perfect direction to take us North all the way from the super camp back to Nemiah but the problem was that it was still too strong and it would be a risk to try to get over the lake. So – yet another day at the super camp.

We had plenty of time to relax and follow our own currents: Brandon finished the design on Bill’s jacket and started painting a paddle for Alice. Chris and others got to work assessing rations and the availability of medications.

The day was cold and sporadic rain battered the canvas over the kitchen area, and the fire struggled to keep us warm. I read and ate lots.

Just after noon there was the sound of a small plane in distance, I idly wondered whether it was looking for us – not likely as it would only have needed to fly North to South to find the Spirit Dancer moored beside the Super Camp. I also heard an avalanche tumble down a slope in the distance behind us. What would tomorrow bring?

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