Wild Northerner Magazine 2015/16 Winter Issue - Page 7

Not exactly an easy machine to move by hand and leg power in deep and thick slush, and by yourself.

I cursed out loud a lot that day. Mostly at my own stupidity.

I eventually pushed the sleigh of gear I was towing across the swamp to solid land. I went back to the XLT and used physical force and will to get it out of the swamp. I would get the machine on top of the snow crust for a second before it would break through and fall back into slush. I made slow progress, but eventually made it back to solid land where I had left the sleigh.

I was gassed. I lay down on my back and closed my eyes. I wanted to drift off to sleep so badly. I think if I did, I would have died. It sounds silly, but I was in a bad spot.

In the chaos of all my cursing and pushing the machine, I built up a big sweat. My clothes were soaked. In a few minutes I opened my eyes as the wind whipped into my body and sent a chill throughout it to my bones.

In an instant, I was frozen. It’s hard to explain. It took considerable power to get back on my feet and pull the starting cord for the XLT. Of course, it wouldn’t start. My cell phone was dead from the cold. It didn’t matter anyway because I didn’t have reception where I was.

I cursed out loud a lot more. I am sure I even kicked the snow machine and called it a bunch of nasty names.

After about half and hour, I got the beast fired up and was on my way back to my truck and trailer.

I had about a 60-minute ride back to my vehicle. I was soaking wet from my own perspiration and it was freezing outside. I found out later, with the windchill, it was closer to -44C that particular day.

That ride to my vehicle was horrible. I am sure I had some degree of hypothermia. I was seeing things on the trails. Every few minutes, my eyes would shut and cause me to slow down. I would look around and I kept seeing a black figure on the trails. The figure reminded me of a witch. I remember saying to myself while I was driving, I can’t hit one of those witches because I didn’t want any blood on my XLT.

Looking back, it seems ridiculous, but I was hallucinating.

By the time I made it my vehicle, I couldn’t move my limbs. I rolled off the XLT and it took everything I had in me to dig out my keys from my pants pocket and crawl into the truck and get it started. I turned up the heat and removed my wet clothes. I had a spare set of clothes in the vehicle and put them on. I was shaking uncontrollably. I even thought I might perish in the truck. I then hit the wall and couldn’t move. I just tucked up into a tight ball and shivered and fell asleep for about 45 minutes.

I woke up and got behind the driver’s wheel. I took some deep breaths and slowly drove out of the remote bush road and back towards my home. It took me about an hour to get home from that launch spot.

I was still shaking non stop when I got home. I didn’t warm up until several hours later after numerous bowls of hot soup.

I took an earful of scolding from my wife. I deserved it.

I learned that day you don’t have to fall through the ice or be exposed for a long time to the cold to get hypothermia. I could have easily died, especially since I left the area I told people I was going to be.

I learned a hard lesson that day. It sure didn’t stop me from going outdoors in the winter.

I hope everyone in northern Ontario has a safe and happy winter season in the outdoors. Catching a trophy fish can be the highlight of the season, but the real deal is making it back home alive and well each time you go out.

Have a wonderful winter and enjoy the numb toes and hot chocolate.