2 – The Trail
We found the trail. It was called the Stilwell Road. Trust me, it was not a road. It was a trail. Just wide enough for John’s pickup. It had a name but no sign. That’s okay. You can’t always trust a sign.
A few klicks down the trail, another washout. Two feet deep. Six feet across. Steep banks.
After a few moments, John said, “Half an hour’s work, we’ll be across.” Sure, I thought. And Prime Minister Harper is concerned about climate change. He will blockade the Alberta tar sands. He will spike the TransCanada oil pipeline. You can trust that guy.
After twenty minutes with a shovel, John had sloped the banks to his satisfaction. I was impressed . . . I never carry a shovel.
Two minutes further on, another washout. A lake, Stilwell Lake, was pouring across the road, by-passing the double culverts. And a desiccated tree lay in the middle of the current. With foresight, I had not brought my rubber boots. So John waded into the current and demolished the tree piece by piece with his bare hands and then we bumped and thumped across the boulders in the comfort of the dry cab. When I say “we”, I mean I was dry.
The wild trees crowded in around us, snatching at wipers, mudguards, taillights. We eluded them successfully. Then the trail ended.
The tracks began.
We were as close as we were going to get to Taradale by road and trail. We now had to walk the tracks.
Let me tell you about walking the tracks. You walk with both eyes in front of you and an ear hung out behind you. Locomotives are sneaky. They creep up behind you and then the moose-catcher nudges you behind the knees. All this at eighty klicks an hour. This is the signal to get the hell off the tracks.
Let me tell you something else. Locomotives have killed a lot of bush historians.