Wednesday 9 October 2013

A Dangerous Place

    There is probably no place on earth that doesn’t possess some potential danger.  Urban centers have their traffic, seashores are full of risks, deserts can be lethal, and tropical “paradises” are full of deadly possibilities.  Those of us that live in this mountainous and wild area have heard many sad stories about people who have died out in these beautiful surroundings.
    The BC news is constantly full of reports of searches for, and recoveries of, people who were out recreating and ended up in situations that led to their demise.  Over the last two days I have been hearing reports of two men who got lost while out mushroom picking.  After 15 days, one managed to wander onto a railroad track and was rescued, the other is still missing and presumed dead.
    This time of year is particularly dangerous, because of wet weather, an unexpected snow, or cold temperatures at night.  Mountains are known for unpredictable weather and people that go out unprepared for changing conditions can easily be killed by hypothermia when unexpected things happen.
    Canada will celebrate Thanksgiving this coming weekend.  Years ago on a Thanksgiving Day, my ex-neighbor and his son decided to take a hike up to Kinney Lake, in Mount Robson park.  I am guessing that the weather was cool and maybe a bit moist.   The hike to Kinney Lake up and back takes maybe 4 hours to complete.
    They started up the trail, and along the way came upon a young Japanese woman walking down the trail.  Kjell is a friendly guy, and would have said, “hi” to her, but strangely, she just continued to walk slowly, her head down, and didn’t acknowledge their presence, so they continued up, and didn’t think anymore about it.  
    They got to the lake, then rested a bit, and turned around and headed back down the trail.  When they got to the bottom at the parking lot, they found a man bent over the Japanese woman who was laying on the ground.  They hurried over.  The woman was dead.
    She hadn’t been warmly dressed, and being an inexperience hiker, had exhausted herself on the climb up the trail, by the time they had met her, her brain was already not functioning properly, and was just walking by muscle memory.  The cold and exertion, finally led to her body just shutting down.  My neighbor of course, felt horrible about not doing something when he met her, but didn’t realize the trouble she was in.  
    Hypothermia is just one of the dangers this time of year.  The bears are all scrambling around trying to load up with food for their winter’s hibernation.  In some parts of BC it is believed that grizzlies have started to link fresh moose meat with the sounds of gunshots, and make a beeline for the noise and catch the hunter unaware.  Several hunters have been mangled this way.
    And just the steep terrain of the mountains and the distances from help can be deadly.  A local baker slipped on moss at the edge of a steep slope, and was killed when he landed in a tree.  He had his keys in his pocket and his daughter couldn’t get to him and had to walk all the way back to town for help.
    Cell phones have been a great help for people in precarious situations, but in most of the areas around here there is no cell phone coverage.  Best be careful if you head out into the mountains this time of year.

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