Saturday, May 14, 2022

Got Lost in the Woods, again!

I, again, got lost in the woods, approximately 6 years after a similar incident, yesterday! This time I was not alone but that was quite an adventure, even more exciting than the last time! I and Stout wanted to do a hike and I thought what would be better than trying Thrift Peak which I and The Chef tried achieving back in 2019 and didn't make it. The planning for hike, this time, was not as easy, mainly because of this freaking job that is very tiring. Beside I don't live in Downtown Calgary any more and renting a vehicle is not as convenient as getting on the train and walking for a few minutes. It was quite a challenge, particularly when the renting fella said that there would be no late return! And it was not only that. The last time I had rented a vehicle it was George W. Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, TX in last Nov. which was very easy. This time I turned to a disaster. The rent was higher, an additional driver would cost $10, which we didn't pay(!), we paid a coverage for the damn windshield and because the late return, which will be told later here, we probably paid more! I will ask Stout on Sun. when I will see him. He had the day off as he was dead tired! 
Our plan was to start from his place where we had parked the rental the night before. I drove there and tried to be early but I couldn't get there earlier than 05:00 or so. We got a coffee and headed south to Highway #22 or Cowboy Trail, it's called. I was driving a VW Passat, which by the way was an amazing vehicle. If I was not into EV and hybrid, I would definitely go for a VW such as that. I'm sure VW, similar to other car manufacturers, is working on an EV or perhaps it has something out but I don't know anything about it. At least a concept.  
We ran to a couple of nice guys on our way and one let me took this photo of him. I hope he doesn't mind it, in case he or anyone who knows him, sees this. His face is not showing. He should be fine. Beside he is so nice, organized and neat. He should not mind being seen on the web, I'd assume
So we headed down and at about 08:00, if I'm not wrong, we were at a trail-head which was a tad off what I had on my map! I thought that little difference would not cause us any issue but it did! We took the available trail and basically headed south and southwest with the hope that we can find ourselves on the main trail with the help from the GPX Viewer. I saw a guy at the other side of the parking lot, when we were gearing up and was waiting to have an interaction with him and exchange words but the asshole walked off! I realized that his gear was different from us. It appeared that he was a hunter or maybe a poacher because the No Hunting sign could be seen at many spots on our way. Later, on the presumed(!) trail, we saw a guy was approaching in full hunting gear. I thought that was the guy we had earlier seen at the trail-head but I was wrong! It was another guy whom was joined by his friend shortly. We had a little talk and one of them gave a sort of water purification tablet to Stout which he never used! We carried on and after a few minutes we found the actual trail but considering we had spent at least 2 hours go get where we should have been only after half an hour(!), if we had parked at the right trail-head!, we decided head back! 
Stout was not very happy with this decision but that was eventually his. We headed back with the hope that we can find our footsteps and go back to the vehicle! Bad idea! There was no track of bread crumbs or such! The result was going up and down hills, bushwhacking, circling and you name it for at least, I'd say good 5 hours, if not more. I just gave up keeping the track of our time, eventually. Stout became very irritated and I sensed in his tone that he was really mad. He had told his wife that he'd be home by 17:00. It would only happened, if we had a helicopter in that situation! Fortunately once we were on the top of a hill discussing what to do, and I was trying to calm him, I realized that I had signal on my phone! It was unbelivable! We didn't get any signal when we were on Highway #22 even before Longview! I told him to check his phone (which later I noticed used the same service provider as I do, Rogers) and it was like he won lottery! He was so happy that he had connection and immediately called his wife and told him that we'd be home at around 21:30! I didn't have anyone to call! So it was not a big deal for me! 
Spring has not fully sprung in Alberta yet but we saw many of these beautiful Crocuses in the area
At that point we decided to go back to the main trail, take it and go to the actual trail-head, where we were supposed to start our hike in the morning and go find the car from there but although he felt a better, he was still anxious and mad and was saying that he had been following me since the start without getting anywhere! I said: Listen. I have a few suggestion for you:
A- We can head down this trail, get to the trail-head and find our car, or
B- We can call 411 and ask for the telephone number of a local RCMP and discuss our situation with them!
" It's up to you ", I added. " You don't have just to listen to me ". Provide a solution and we can discuss that as well! That was my final word to him before he called 411 and we were put through Black Diamond RCMP non-emergency number! The lady at the other side, whom I was talking to, was very nice and helpful and told me to call 911 which in that way they would be able to see our coordinates and would come to get us. Stout, in the meantime, was nudging me to ask how much it would cost! Eventually, after hearing what the lady said, we decided to go with plan A!
I told him: Look. By the time the police of Search & Rescue gets here, we'd be at the car because we still had nearly 5 hours of daylight. He agreed and we carried on. We reached the actual trail-head in about 40 minutes or so and kept taking the assumed road where we found out that only would have been able to get it in the morning, if we had a 4x4! we would have had to park much further down. We kept walking and he was, at this point checking his Google Map which is available, partially, offline in situation like this and we realized we were not so far away from a gravel road which we were hoping to get us to the vehicle. We were both tired but he was way worse and we also were out of water. We reached a stream and he was hesitant to drink but I didn't give the second thought and drank a bit! The road ended where there seemed to be a fenced yard and cattle were everywhere, not to mention that we saw them all the way until there. We decided to have a break and think about the last segment of our journey! It appeared that we needed to go around the fence to get ourselves to the presumed gravel road. We were talking when all of a sudden I saw a big pickup truck with a trailer attached to it at the other side of the yard. I asked Stout, he was on the ground, lying(!) to wave at the guy and ask for help. I was sure he would either give us a ride or tell us how to get there. Stout jumped up and despite the fact that he was exhausted he tried(!) to run for the truck while waving his hiking poles! That was hysterical! The driver saw us and he drove to us. I joined Stout shortly and the guy agreed to give us a lift to the vehicle, although he said it was only a mile away. We were happy to jump back and we enjoyed a ride after 6 freaking hours of walking in the woods! Even when he stopped to get his dog in, which we don't know why it was running after the truck(!), we didn't mind it. We were at the vehicle in no time. We thanked him and I got his number because we're going back to make the summit and we will take a gift for him. 
Our first stop, on the way back was Longview. It was bit late and we couldn't go to a major restaurant, bar or cafe and Stout, who is a big meat-eater wanted to go to the jerky shop but it was closed after we came out from the Fas Gas convenience store to get beverages. Luckily the store had Beef Jerky, probably from the same store, and he bought 3 packs! I can't eat much eat because of my Gout but I tried a little piece and it was good. We headed north and he was waiting for the signal so he could send a message to his wife to tell her he would be late, again(!) because it was 09:30 and we still had another hour or so to go! This time he sent a message and put the telephone in his pocket!
The ride in the back of the truck, with the trailer attached to it, even when the dog of the owner jumped up [which I don't have a photo of it here] was very pleasant
I don't remember when it was that we reached his home and left the rental and I drove home but I think I reached home almost around 23:30! Comparing it to the planned time that I was supposed to be home, 18:00, the latest, I was only 5.5 hours late! I took a shower and went to bed to be ready for tomorrow's work but what led to our unwanted adventure is relying on the unreliable GPX Viewer App on the phone, I think. I also think I should have taken a printed map and studied the area in more detail. We have a plan to go back in three month so I'm thinking of perhaps to buy a handheld GPS. What to do you think?
(Photo, top: Despite being in the area once and seeing the actual fire lockout on the top of Thrift peak, I thought that'd be the summit that we were about to make! It is not. Stout checked it out with my pair of binoculars and found a structure[!] there which we thought was the actual building. It is but not the one that we were aiming for. It could be Centre Peak which is further south but I'm not sure. I will make certain, if I ever decide to go!)

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