Vancouver Island

South Coast, the wild coast is lonely, you may win at the game not for long, but the lion still rules the Baranka, and a man there is always alone.

July ’69

I left my depression somewhere out at sea. After three or
four hours of calm ocean breezes, the northern Washington coastline on one side me, and the shining snow-capped Olympic mountains receding behind me, I arrived in Victoria, a jewel of a city. Upon my arrival, the Immigration man greeted me. Canada didn’t want the couple of dollars I would bring to their economy, they wanted more. The officers would not let me enter until I persuaded them that I was only there for a short visit. Luckily for me, when they phoned Connie’s house to confirm my story, Connie’s mother decided to welcome me. Well, maybe welcome is too strong a word. When I arrived at the no frills, three-bedroom home, Connie told me that I would have to sleep in her tent. She said, “It was my mother’s idea.” Hey, a tent in the backyard, that was still a roof over my head. I didn’t complain.

Leaving Victoria late in the afternoon, I found the island
absolutely beautiful. My ride would have taken me another fifty
miles, but it was getting dark and I didn’t want to miss any of the
beauty, so I told the driver to let me out at the top of the next
mountain. Alone, on the sparsely traveled road, amidst a pristine
mountain wilderness, I felt invigorated. On my right, I could see a
plateau jutting out from the side of the mountain. I knew that is
where I wanted to spend the night, if only there was enough daylight to get me to the top of the plateau. I grabbed my gear and started to climb.

I was doing fine until I reached a sandy incline about sixty
yards from the plateau. For every step up I took, it felt like I was
moving two steps down; I became fatigued and covered in sweat. I
wanted to give up, but ever so slowly, by putting one foot in front
of the other, I kept moving forward. After two hours, I reached the top. Since the plateau jutted out from the mountain, it was a bit tricky getting on to it, but the anticipated view of a British
Columbia star-filled sky muscled me past even that obstacle. From
atop the plateau, however, what I found was not so nice.

I threw my sleeping bag down on ground covered in briars.
There was barely enough space to stretch out. As I sat in the dark,
drenched in sweat and caked in dirt, I began to feel localized pain.
Upon self-examination, I found myself bleeding in at least three
different places. Looking up into a now cloudy sky, I began to
laugh. I stopped laughing when I heard a high-pitched cry cut
through the stillness of the mountain air. Fear was my first
reaction, but with the return of silence, I was overcome with a
feeling of reconciliation. There I was, in the presence of the wild,
perched high in British Colombia Mountains, as close to God as a
person can get. The cry of the mountain lion only hammered home that feeling. I had many reasons to be uncomfortable, but I slept
peacefully.

In the morning light, I was surprised to find some other
traveler had found his way to this plateau. Ten feet from where I
slept were the remains of an abandoned campfire. It appeared as if I was not the only one stupid enough to make this climb. Getting down from the plateau was less difficult though, I secured my gear and with a bon voyage I let the bundles find their own way down. Once I reconnected with my belongings, reached the highway, and emptied the sand from my shoes, I was ready to see more of this beautiful island.

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About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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One Response to Vancouver Island

  1. bwinwnbwi says:

    What’s left out of the above post: Connie was happy to see me, but it became clear that my arrival had upset the apple cart, so to speak. In addition to agitating Connie’s mother, my presence infuriated Connie’s boyfriend. Not that he had anything to worry about; Connie made it clear that our relationship was now platonic. Connie’s “chastity of Penelope attitude” was lost on her boyfriend, though. Stevie hated me. In spite of that, I found his behavior amusing (he reminded me of a baby whose pacifier had just been removed).

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