Test #2 was a run up to Balsam Lake this past weekend. This time around, it was a two-night camp-out, leaving the
day in between for some hiking. At this time of year, much of the forests are emerald green with fuzzy moss against a soundtrack of warbling and tweeting birds. Then, there’s that “spring” smell–a kind-of composty-fresh-green-leaves smell that annouces the return of life. Miraculous, when you immerse yourself in it.
The thunder showers that the weather reporters had been warning of all week turned out to be little more than false bravado; and I was not able to test out my rain gear. Not to worry, though; something tells me I will have plenty of opportunities to try it our on the road to Alaska.
However, what the weekend lacked in rain, it more than made up for with mosquitoes.
The first indication of the tiny predators came as I passed by a massive swamp on the road in to my campsite. It looked like something from Bayou country. Never a good sign in humid conditions. Then, as I slowed down to park, having reached my campsite, I could see them — swarms of tiny black dots zipping around. Instinctively opening my helmet visor as I prepared to de-bike, I quickly snapped it shut again before they little blighters could get at me. As I sat there, formulating a strategy to deal with these keepers of my campsite, a light bulb began to glow over my head; and was subsequently extinguished by a previously-undetected swarm that had done an end run around my helmet — but not before I remembered that I had prepared for this scenario. I had read a trip report warning that the flies (and, I presumed, mosquitoes) are plentiful in Northern BC at this time of year; and my wife had suggested taking a tube of odomos Anti-Mostquito Cream that she had obtained from India by way of The Caribbean (but that’s another story). A few dabs of this stuff around the hands, face, neck and ears was all it took to keep the flying devil critters away while I got the tent set up.
As an alternative to the odomos, I am also carrying a “mosquito top” — a mesh anorak of sorts that covers the upper body and head; and had a go with this closer to dusk, when the throngs of mosquitoes increased. Great bit of gear; truly effective! I was smug as watched them land on the mesh and try, unsuccessfully, to get any closer. The only downside — and it’s a minor one given the benefit — is that it gets a bit frustrating viewing the world through a mesh veil after a while.
So. There it is — Rain gear test, 0; mosquito gear test, 1.
Apart from the mosquito test, everything went swimmingly. Gunther behaved admirably — but then, I am growing to expect nothing less from this miracle of German engineering; and I have worked out the few, minor wrinkles from last test. If this is any indication of things to come, my grand adventure will need a bit of help — perhaps driving through some fresh grease on the road or camping outside a bear’s den, for example.
All that being said, I have to concede I had just a liiiiittle bit of help this time around, as my family was in attendance. So, for example, awful-tasting MREs cooked on a one-burner stove and eaten in solitude were replaced with chicken legs BBQ’d on a proper Coleman and a propane grill with familiar banter around the campfire afterward. Mmmmmm.
It was a good chance to show them some of the cool gear I’ve acquired for the trip — like the Gorilla Pod that can hook my BlackBerry onto a tree branch for better camera angles; and the rubber wash basin that folds up into a 4″ x 8″ x 1/2″ sheet for convenient storage when not in use.
It was also one of the last chances to spend time together as a family before I hit the road. It’s going to be tough on all of us being apart for such a long time. Sure, we can use BBM for video calls to say good night; but it’s never the same as a hug. At the same time, I think one has to be removed from one’s natural habitat in order to assess it — to look at it in the 3rd person — so as to see the forest for what it is rather than just the trees in the immediate vicinity. This is something I hope to do during my time away.
Now, the sprint to launch day begins — that last 20% that wants to consume 80% of the time. This weekend will be a final scavenger hunt arround town to pick up things that, for one reason or another, have dropped off the radar; but which, nonetheless, need to be packed — spare spark plugs; tire repair kit; clothes pegs; pipe filters…
On a final note, I have posted a new Youtube clip on the Inspiration page. In it, Les Brown points out that, once we become aware something is possible (eg running a 4-minute mile, finding the right job/path/person, riding a motorcycle solo to Alaska, etc.), a huge barrier that keeps us from moving forward is removed because “I can’t do it” becomes, “If others can do it, so can I.”