“What’s that?” I said, pointing to the profusion of what first appeared to be dust. Fred turned off the engine. Steam continued to billow out from under the hood, and an “Oh no!” clenched my stomach. We were in Manning Park, seventy kilometres from help.
We’d gotten up early to hike the Skyline Trail to Snow Camp Mountain and were now parked at the trailhead. After Fred looked under the hood and determined the vapour was likely caused by leaked radiator fluid, we decided to go ahead with the hike. But how could I enjoy it now, without knowing how serious this was? Eventually, I was able to put the problem out of my mind, going with the scenario Fred suggested, that perhaps he hadn’t put the cap on properly when he’d last checked the level of radiator fluid.
Skyline is a beautiful trail, that begins shaded with trees and leads up to glorious views of Goat and Redcap Mountains nearby and the jagged peaks of Mt. Hozameen in the North Cascades.
The next day, I stayed at our campsite while Fred drove ten kilometres uphill to fish at Lightning Lake. He came back at noon with the story of the fish that got away and the news that there was at least one significant leak in the radiator. While he thought about what he might do, I began making lunch. But I had no appetite. My stomach was knotted with anxiety as I thought about how this story might turn out–that it could involve a tow truck, finding accommodation in Hope, and would certainly end our time away sooner than planned.
As I paid attention to the anxiety and my body’s reaction, I recognized I was caught up in the future. I pulled my thoughts back to the present, reminding myself, “We are here under the trees eating a delicious lunch. We are safe. We are fine.” Whenever my mind wandered off into the “What Ifs” and “Oh Nos!” I brought it back to the present, appeasing it with the thought that this is a problem that money can solve, and we can afford it.
After lunch, Fred figured out how he could fix the leak in the radiator with what he had on hand (see picture below). It looked like it would hold. Then he found another small leak and glued that. Meanwhile, I was able to relax and read.
The next day we got up early, packed up and left the campsite. “If we can make it to Hope, there’s a chance that when we get some stop-leak and Goop, we can get all the way home,” Fred said.
“Then I’ll put in a new radiator.”
I love this guy.
So we babied the car to Hope, keeping the speed down, the heater on to divert heat from the engine, and stopping every twenty kilometres to let the engine cool down and to check the radiator fluid level. We got to Hope then inched our way home on back roads for another 150 kilometres. On our stops, we went for walks or I biked ahead and Fred caught up with me. We bought a bag of Chilliwack corn and twenty pounds of fresh-picked blueberries at roadside stands. It was actually pleasant, although we breathed a sigh of relief when we arrived home twelve hours later.
We didn’t get to do the Three Brothers hike, but I was able to enjoy being in the moment even when the moment was in a day with a big problem and no guarantees. That was a huge gift.
Of course, so was Fred.
Jesus woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!”
Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.
–Mark 4:39 (NRSV)
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Snow Camp Mountain and Three Brothers hikes are in Stephen Hui’s book 105 Hikes In and Around Southwestern British Columbia. Hui offers “an at-a-glance summary of all the hikes in the book; tips for hiking safely and ethically; full-colour topographical maps; a rating system for hike quality and difficulty; Indigenous place names where appropriate; and shorter or longer options for many outings. The book is extensively researched and field-tested and a portion of the revenue from its sales will benefit the British Columbia Mountaineering Club (BCMC), one of the province’s oldest outdoors clubs.” (from website)