More than two million acres burned in the summer heat and drought. I kept watch on the BC wildfire map and appreciated that my ten year search area remained untouched. In late September, I rented a large SUV and smiled my way to the canyon. Once a year has proven to be a difficult scenario but appreciated all the more. I had been too long away from the silence of the forest.
At seventy years of age, my tired body has seen enough medical improvements to keep me active. Daily exercise and a good diet help too. This year I had artificial lenses inserted into my eyeballs and the forest has never looked so good. At night I could gaze up at the stars shining on my presence without having to reach for glasses. The tradeoff is I now need glasses just to check the time on my phone but I couldn’t be happier with the current state of my vision.
During one of my evening meals before sundown, I boiled up a bag of ichiban noodles and added a can of smoked sardines. After a tiring day, this had to be considered a good meal. Standing at the stove, I had just shovelled a fourth spoonful into my mouth when a death beetle flew in and dropped his inch-long carcass into my pot. The burying beetle features the unmistakable orange belly band. I had seen them often on the prairies working to bury a dead rodent or sparrow but here in my evening meal; unthinkable.
He moved quickly over my food as the heat may have been a surprise for his sensory receivers. I reacted quickly and we sparred for a few seconds before I flicked the intruder onto the forest floor. Several spoonfuls were shared with my guest in case his excitement caused him to release any body excrement. We continued our meal in silence like a couple who have been together too long with nothing further to say. I suspect the devious insect, Nicrophorus spp., used its amazing receptors to detect the dead sardines and pounced. Like the tick from several years ago that followed my body heat, we underestimate the animal world and their amazing adaptations to their world.
Winter and the spring melt left marks in the area that denied my travel to the usual spot. I had to remain in a more public area. On my second day, I returned to Camp SUV to find a couple waiting, scoped rifles over their shoulders. I thought of the movie Deliverance before relaxing and hearing their tale of woe. They tried to skirt Little Fish Lake and slid into the water. Could I give hubby a lift to a friends in hopes of hiring a rescue? The beginning rainshower meant I could. The lady decided she would return to the truck with her rifle, purse puppy in a pink carryall, and a few joints. Her comfies were shredded as if a cougar had narrowly missed removing her flesh. I cannot pretend to understand her world. But she was enjoying the outdoors and that can only be seen as a good thing. They were able to secure rescue and I returned to the silence of the forest.
At the creek, the low flow of late summer on a dry year allowed the water to gurgle over and around rocks of all sizes and shapes. The proverbial babbling brook sounded like voices from a distance. The unusual sound tricks our brain into thinking it’s something familiar, like voices. I heard it several years ago and my first exposure to it was interesting. I wonder how the effect played on the miners who were in that area in 1858 and beyond.
I did not find the lost gold bars of Camp McKinney on trip number seventy-eight. Of course, I had once again hoped to, wanted to, and worked hard to try and make it happen. Being in that same search area helped to bring me a sense of closure although it’s not the preferred ending for a treasure hunt. Yet the decade of my search has been nothing short of exciting as I stayed optimistic while experiencing nature and learning about spirituality. I’ll continue writing and editing in hopes of developing a story worthy of your reading time.
And that faint, distant voice you might hear in Rock Creek Canyon during the late summer or fall? It just might be the voices of miners long gone and forgotten who want to tell you their story.