Home Back Forward July 25, 1999: Surviving the Storm

Enjoying a break in the storm

Tying down the plane

Chico slides to Charlie

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We have just emerged from a 3-day storm. It is always a trial to sit here in this small cabin and endure the onslaught of nature. It is also a trial to share such a small space with one other person when the wind and rain continually bashes into the cabin. Tempers wear thin. The continuous thrashing of the elements wears on one's nerves. Added to the tension is the continuous worry about the airplane. Two years ago it was flipped over in winds similar to what we have experienced these past few days.

The storm started with dense fog and very heavy rain continuous for 48 hours. A trip to the outdoor fridge is a trial. We have a metal box submerged in the tundra, which acts as a cooler of sorts for our perishable goods. This box is located just outside the "artist's cabin". When it rains, water from the roof drips continuously on this box. When I go out to get anything, I have to be quick. When I lift the lid, water inevitably runs into the cooler (and also down my back!). To add to the fun, mold starts to grow on the produce inside and there is no way to dry it out with continuing wet conditions. Wind blowing from the north causes the chimney to downdraft. When we returned to the cabin after a brief foray outside, we entered an environment filled with diesel fumes. Our wonderful diesel heater was backfiring jets of flame out the back. Smoke was pouring out the chimney flue, filling the cabin. The smoke was so thick I crawled in to turn off the fuel flow to the heater. So, with the wind, rain and fog swirling around, we had to leave the door open to create the draft necessary to clear the cabin air. The smell of diesel lasted only 2 days, but we were caught inside to endure the lingering fumes as the storm raged on.

Two days into this storm, the sky cleared. But to our surprise the barometer continued to drop. We soon found out why. Some of the strongest winds we have experienced hit. We estimated them to be 150kph (93mph; 81 knots) with gusts much greater. The cabin rocked on its cement pilings; its metal skin buckled and banged. The new floor covering of insulated linoleum lifted and rolled with the wind blowing underneath. My kayak, which I had just repaired for the season, was picked up and hurtled against the electric fence. Charlie was up several times during the night securing the plane. The photo, "Tying down the Plane", looks so innocent. It is a beautiful day, but with wind that could easily flip the plane into the lake. Charlie ties down part of the wing to create less area for the plane to be lifted.

I spotted the cubs during a brief lull in the wind velocity. We hiked over to Bearskull Bay. They seemed as overjoyed as we were to be out and about. Chico jumped down the snowdrift, sliding into Charlie. She landed with a heavy sound in a way that would have winded me - flat on her back delightedly waving her feet in the air.

The high wind does have one great advantage. A stunning reddish brown medium sized male grizzly was ambling across the meadow near where I was heading to fill our water buckets. I raced back to the cabin for my camera. The wind was carrying my scent away from this bear and the wind was drowning all the noise we were making. This 1,000lb(approximately) bear headed right up into the edge of the pine bushes in front of us. The light was full, the yellow globe flowers brilliant. I spoke to the bear to let him know we were there. We clicked off some great shots.

This morning the storm has ended. We haven't had a delivery of any fresh food like vegetables, meat or fruit for 4 weeks now, but our spirits are high. It is calm and sunny. Hopefully the char will come into the creek near camp soon and we will have some fresh fish. The bears are anxious too for a change in their diet. The salmon run has started into the lake, but the water level is high and the fish have not begun to die off yet. Consequently there are not many bears around the lake now. They are congregated down-river, where fishing is better. Chico has been eyeing the small fish that run the small waterways with great interest. She slapped the water with her paw, in frustration yesterday, trying to scare out bigger prey.


© Lenticular Productions Ltd. 1999