THANKSGIVING, A TIME TO GIVE THANKS!
It was 21 years ago in British Columbia. It was raining. It was always raining! Of course, that never stopped us from doing anything that we wanted to do, so we went camping with friends. There were some beautiful, natural hot springs located 50 miles north and west of Pemberton, BC. All told about 200 miles north of our home in Vancouver. The highway to our little known camp followed the Lillouette River about 30 miles where it turns into a dirt road, then we branch off at another dirt road that follows Meager Creek. We cross several old wooden bridges and arrive at a wide spot that will be used as our parking lot. The hot springs and camping area are below this parking lot, down in a ravine by the creek. This is not an official government or privately run campground. It is actually a logging camp created for picnics, etc. There are some picnic tables and outhouses. The hot flowing springs have areas that are boarded up to create warm and hot pools. It is not raining here, in fact it is glorious weather. We set up our tents and commence to eating, drinking, soaking in the pools under the starry night sky, and in general, making merry. The pools were warm and cozy, the effect was refreshing and relaxing, both at the same time. Our friend suggested that we walk about a mile up the road the next day to go and see the glacier that feeds this meager creek.
I don't remember crawling into our little tent, but I do remember waking up the next morning completely soaked. There was a little rivulet running right through our tent. Now I love geology but we never thought about the lay of the land when setting up this tent. This was the last time we did not pay attention to this detail. Being drenched we hiked up to the parking lot to get into some dry clothes in the van. I left the husband, still climging into his clothes, to go make a pot of coffee and bring him back a warm mug. As I am walking down the road to get to the path that leads down to the river, I hear a cracking sound. I am used to life in the mountains and suspect a landslide. I look up and down the valley we are nestled in, while scanning the mountainsides looking for moving trees. I see no movement and tell myself that I am being paranoid and hearing things. So I head on down to the campsite. The coffee is not ready yet but my husband appears. He tells us a story that we cannot believe. He was half into his trousers when the van started shaking. There was so much moisture on the windows that he couldn't see out. He thought we were playing a trick on him. Then the van started moving! He wiped the window and saw that he was surrounded by water, trees and very large boulders, all moving swiftly around him. The van had rotated so that it was pointing down the hill. He jumped into the drivers seat, started it up and threw it into reverse. If it didn't move he was going to have to pick another strategy, but he was lucky and he managed to drive it back up the hill and onto dry ground above this deluge. This new river destroyed the very road that took us back to civilization. It had cut a channel right through it. But that very same road had saved all us campers. It had been banked just right. Whether that was by design or not, I don't know, but it diverted this new river away from the campground about 100 feet below. Many of the vehicles in the parking lot were now in various positions (upside down, sideways, in trees) much further downstream. We were stranded! I was happy that I had brought a giant can of Boston Baked Beans, even though it was intended to be a joke! I was very happy that I had decided not to linger on that road looking for the source of that cracking sound!
About two hours after this encounter with Mother Nature a helicopter approached and a couple of hard hatted Search and Rescue heroes dropped down and told us we had to get out of there now. We learned from them about the glacier falling apart and how a large chunk of it had landed in the creek, causing the water to divert into new rivers. It was also having a damming effect and we didn't want to be there when it blew! We were instructed to hike about two miles down the road, where there were buses parked and ready to take us back to Pemberton. I had never had to ford a river before in my life. That morning I crossed four! We made it to the buses that took us to Pemberton, where we were put on a train to take us back to Vancouver.
The next day we found out that a large part of Pemberton was under ten feet of water! We felt so bad. The town that so promptly rescued us was now in need. My husband went right back up there to lend them a hand. He stayed about two weeks. Shovelling hay and mud, scrubbing anything and everything, doing what had to be done. The insurance company (run by the provincial government) decided to airlift any vehicles out that were movable. Winter was encroaching and the bridges were washed out. If you had comprehensive coverage you were okay, and if you did not (we didn't) you were going to have to pay about $500/hr for the lift. We got a call later from the ICBC to say that my husband had created such a good name for himself in Pemberton that they weren't going to charge for the airlift of the van that had our gear in it. You see, it wasn't our van, it was our friend's van. That was very nice too!
So I give thanks today, to God's Good Earth, and to the Grace of Man.