Here in the boreal forest of Canada, winter is a-coming. I got a taste of it last Monday, when Clarence and I were scouting a trail into the Kamuck River.
It was bitterly cold – no snow, just cold. We were tramping around the bush in a remote location. I knew I had issues with my truck, a ’97 Nissan Pathfinder, for there was a leak at the top of the gas tank which I was prepared to live with. You can sink only so much money into an old truck. That meant I had to carry extra gas. And in the past few months, I’d had problems with the battery discharging. I’d brought along a power pack to address that issue. Still, we were miles from nowhere, on a road no one would travel until next summer, and if the truck failed us, we might be camping out till spring.
Well, we finished our scout and climbed into the truck. The gas gauge indicated close to empty, and the needle sank rapidly. We stopped and poured in 20 litres. That got us to the main road, the Goldfield. The needle was still sinking, very rapidly indeed. There was no traffic on the Goldfield, and we were still 50 klicks from the highway. In another 10 klicks, the gauge read dead empty.
Clarence crawled under the truck and found the problem – a leaking gas line. The fuel was pouring out. He did a MacGyver fix with a plastic lunch bag and some string. We poured in the last 10 litres and still it gushed out. Still no traffic on the road.
I tramped on the gas. We had to make miles before we were running on empty again. Another 10 klicks and the engine died. No cell phone service. We climbed down and looked up and down the road. No traffic.
Then, magically, a pickup truck came charging at us from the direction of town. Someone we knew. A trapper going to check out his line. No, said Herman, he couldn’t give us a lift. He had to use the remaining daylight to check his line. But he knew a hill close by from which we could get cell service. South of there. But we were heading north. No, he said, there was just the one hill, to the south about a klick, where we could pick up a signal.
I jumped into the cab and he dropped me off on the hill. He was right. The one spot on a road 50 kilometres long where his experience told him he could get a signal. Magical.
I used the cell. I walked back to our truck, where Clarence was shuffling around trying to keep warm. Not long before friend Rob came to gather us up in his pickup. From home I phoned CAA. They’d take care of things. Magically.
Clarence’s take on the whole trip: Hey! Another adventure!
That’s a Northerner speaking.
Next post: winter is still a-coming.