Peter Sulzle - famed wildlife photographer
How can you tell if you have been on a really good hike? For me, success is measured by whether or not they have to send out the search party. So, by all accounts, last evening's/night's hike was a total success.
My friend Peter (whom I shall write more about later) and I decided to head up Wheeler Mountain to get some sunset shots and possibly some photos of the bighorn sheep that sometimes congregate on the cliff tops. The trip is not particularly arduous. But having said that, I should add that the road to the hike can be perilous, the hike itself is steep and dry, and there are numerous opportunities along the way to fall or impale one's self - so arduous no, but if I had a better vocabulary I could come up with a word that would convey: stupid, strenuous and little chance of a payout.
So Peter and I set out on this trip with a yet to be determined adjective and, with that optimism that all photographers/videographers have, we started to look for things to shoot. At this point I should introduce Peter. Peter is an excellent photographer and you can see some of his work at: http://www.blurb.com/books/599990. He is also one of the few people in Kamloops that likes to go on some of these more "adjective yet to be determined" hikes; more importantly he doesn't complain if I stop to take ten minutes to round up an ant to feed to an antlion. Just as you can't mix birders and hikers, you can't mix photographers with just about any other subset of humanity - we just need our time to stop to get that all important shot.
From the outset we knew the trip was going to be good. We found a tree full of dragonflies, a sandpit with spadefooted toads, a new nesting site of the collared dove, blue grouse, chipmunks, rare butterflies (okay maybe not rare but neither of us knew their names), nighthawk young, fresh bear tracks, a deer mouse, antlions by the handful and a great sunset sequence.
Yes the hike was long and made harder with the thick pall of smoke that hung in the summer evening like the air in a 50's roadhouse - but it was worth it. Especially since, once we had won the top of the Wheeler cliffs, a strong breeze started and the air cleared and the perfect sunset sequence presented itself (I'll post once I get around to processing it).
We waited until the sun had set and hiked out through the now growing darkness, marveled at the nighthawks wheeling overhead, and then marveled at the loud thunk my truck made while sliding down the rough gravel track that was once a road.
It was this loud thunk that sort of knocked the wheels off of our adventure. I am no mechanic but I know that front-end thunks and a subsequent growl are usually not good. The vehicle was still drivable - but only at about 20kmh. So it was a long slow drive back to my folk's place where we had left Peter's vehicle. When we got back there was a note from my father saying he had gone to look for us. Since his vehicle was still in the driveway I knew he had pressed my brother into service. A quick call to my brother's house confirmed this and through the marvels of cellular communication we were able to call the search off.
I left the wounded vehicle to rest at my folk's place and Peter had to drive me home. So I dragged myself into the house, tired, dry, dusty and sporting a few new cuts, scraps and pulled muscles but I had a tape full of video, a chip with a some good shots and another great hike under my belt.