The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men
On a rare, still and sultry night on a west coast beach, we left the
flap open just a smidgon to make the thick, body-odoured air more
Late in the night, gentle scratchings and crunchings awakened us. A
moving thing scampered across my sleeping bag. Wayne yelled, "The
s.o.b. ran across my face!"
I believe I know about mice. To thwart a mouse you must place all
mouse food in a sack and hang it high. If you stay in the same place
nights in a row be wary. Your average mouse will have located your
the first night. Be cool; be clever; be crafty. Fool him by storing
pack and your food in a new spot the second night. I speak from
At Carmanah a mouse chewed through the canvas of my pack to reach some
trail mix. Trail mix is very desirable mouse food.
On the athletic ability of mice
One evening, at
Creek, after the food was hung, I discovered a partial bag of trail mix
in my pack. Feeling smug, I took the little baggy of nuts and lashed it
a loose rope end near the main food bag. At least six inches separated
two bags as they swung in space. The small bag was so light and
it swayed in the wind. I was confident no reasonable mouse would
such a challenge. Wrong! The next morning the hanging baggy had a
disected hole. Only the raisins remained. We may need further study,
I suspect raisins are not desirable mouse food.
Rain, Rain Go Away
Is there anything that can change the quality of your hike more
the weather? Read and prepare.
Hiking for a few days in sloshing persistent rain, can embitter a
against the very environment he came to enjoy. The native solution was
run naked under a poncho-like cape and wide-brim hat woven from cedar
For a few hundred years this unique fashion statement worked fine but
someone invented gortex. Alas, after a few hours submerged in a west
downpour, even the mighty gortex succumbs. Chilly trickles enter around
hood and some mysterious, relentless force sucks droplets up the arms.
the end wet, is wet, is wet. The solution is as it was those hundreds
years ago: find ways to stay warm like a scuba diver in a wet suit.
your hiking time to allow more time for the rain to stop and less time
to hate it. Throw on extra clothes when you stop, but don't stop long
to cool down. Get your shelter up quickly when you arrive and change
Stoke up the fire.
Hypothermia is a frightening thing.
Five of us arrived at Camper
after hiking all day in wind and heavy rain. We chose a place under the
behind big protective logs. Our bodies cooled during the few minutes it
to put up our tents and scramble about looking for material to build a
As the others held a tarp over me, I tried to dry my freezing hands
to ignite our fire starter. Everything dripped. I began to shiver those
involuntary shivers I hadn't experienced since my childhood days
swimming at some forgotten
lake. Our fire was soon burning and our clothes changed, but I've never
those frightening, vulnerable moments.
A Lady and the Rose
For many years we sailed from Port Alberni to Bamfield on the Lady Rose.
Today it's the Frances Barkley but the stories will be the same. Make the trip part of your hike.
The Bamfield dock was crowded with ragged, worn-out hikers waiting
the Lady Rose. Among the throngs was a proud group of finishers from
Alberni. They were all women; some moms and daughters, some just
but all pleased and excited to be going home. We boarded the ship and
up the inlet. As we neared Port Alberni an small, open boat came out to
us and turned to run along side. The man and small child on board began
wildly. One of the homeward-bound ladies rushed to the railing, calling
waving with great gusto before she charged through the passageway to
lower deck. When the Lady Rose slowed almost to a stop we all leaned
over the side to watch the boat come along side. Below at water level,
girl was handed across the gap of water to a pair of waiting hands. A
minutes later the happy mother reappeared on deck squeezing and kissing
chattering daughter. We all waved at the father's departing boat. We
overcome with emotion. Such a warm and loving ship, this Lady Rose.
The young girl and her two "wild men" friends on the Lady Rose were
their way to Keha beach for a "gathering" of alternate lifestyle folks.
Harry Krishna group was expected to be giving workshops and holding
They had their untethered dog, "Maka Makito" with them. The name is
for "snot-nosed kid". We saw the same group among the logging
in Tofino about a month later. They had a simple penned sign taped to a
post: "Hemp jewlery and necklaces for sale." Their wares were hanging
loosely along the railing. In an earlier conversation she had proudly
sales "of $125 a week", were enough to keep them off the welfare dole.