I sometimes question my masculinity. I am not what is often thought of as a typical male. I have absolutely no interest in sports, and I am not a motor-head. I am not interested in loud powerful engines or going fast in vehicles. This being said, I must say that one of the things I really enjoyed during my 23 years of working at the BC Forest Service (or the Ministry of Forests, as it was later rebranded) was being able to explore the Robson Valley by driving around in trucks.
Our district was huge, as big as the country of Belize. It was made up of mountains and valleys. Highway 16 went through one valley east and west, and Highway 5 went through another valley north and south. The rest of the area could only be accessed through a few secondary roads, some well maintained “Forest Service Roads” and a lot of very poor logging roads.
The jobs I often had to do were varied. I had to sometimes go out to pristine areas that were slated for logging to do timber cruises. I had to get fire fighting equipment to fires, ferry barrels of jet fuel for helicopters, take boxes of baby trees to tree planters visit visit isolated side valleys to determine what kind timber types were growing there.
Sometimes the remoteness of the places I had to go to meant that a helicopter, ATV, or snowmobile had to be used, but most often it meant driving a big 4 wheel drive forestry truck. I really enjoyed slowly bouncing along unexplored roads, not knowing what lay behind the next bend.
Of course, driving in the trucks was just a means of getting where we had to go. Once there, things often became much more physical. Tromping up mountains, and spending the day, fighting our way through the devils club (nasty spiky plants), fighting mosquitoes, or snowshoeing through heavy snow. What a glorious thing it was to finally return back to the truck after a hard day in the bush, and to be able to finally sit down again. It was always a welcome reward at the end of an exhausting day, even if it still meant a half an hour of bouncing along a logging road, then another hour’s worth of driving on a highway before I finally got back to the office.
Because the Forest Service used to hire on a lot of extra people over the summer, it meant that we needed extra trucks for them to use. One of the things I always looked forward in the spring, was being part of the crew that was driven up to Prince George, to pick up the brand new rental trucks and driving them back to McBride.
Not only was it enjoyable to drive a brand spanking new truck, the trip always gave us some “city” time, and since we had a truck, we often took advantage of the situation by purchasing items that we couldn’t carry in our own personal vehicles. I bought a rototiller once and hauled it home, and another time bought a fruit tree that wouldn’t have fit in my car.
I will always have fond memories of those forestry trucks. They were not only a means of exploration and adventure, but also a sign that a hard exhausting day was finally over.
You can view my paintings at: www.davidmarchant.ca