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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Bottom Fell Out

So, I am riding along,,,, I know I am on a creek bed,,,,Everything had appeared to be fine until I looked ahead of me and I saw some open water about 25 yards ahead. I slowed down and suddenly "The Bottom Fell Out"
None of the Brown water and snow you see was visible in this area when I started into the area. When the machine broke through it sent out a wave and things just changed everywhere.

Look at the edges of all of these Brown holes and you can see that they just broke away. You can even see some ice floating in the top right of the above picture and in the hole directly to the left of the machine. Boy was this a surprise when it happened. It was instantaneous. The things you see on the right lower corner of this picture is packages of mail I was trying to take to the Post Office along with my survival back pack kit (which I was wearing).
I was between 3 and 4 miles from home, not on a frequently used trail, trying to take a back way to the Post Office. The main trail on the river had some very bad ice conditions so I was trying to go this way. Me and a friend have gone this way a few times in years past but I was all alone and the first to travel it this year. This creek does not look bad but look below.

See the stick in the water in front of the machine? See the water under the back of the machine? See the water off of the left side of the machine? ( The water off to the left side is not there in the first 2 pictures) See the water under the skis of the machine? Now look directly behind the machine on the snow. There is 1 red and 1 blue ratchet strap connected to a yellow rope tied to the little tree across the way. I pulled the machine onto this little 3' wide island using the ratchet straps and rope I had under the seat. The machine had slipped farther into the water during the process. Look closely at the hood of the machine. There is a line of ice starting at the front left (upper front) corner of the hood and going off of the back of the hood just below and behind the "Rotax" decal by the windshield. Back to the stick in the water, Look at the snow just left of the stick and you can see ripples (ridges). This is the marking from the track of the machine tipped sideways in the creek. Now, Look at the stick in the next picture.
The stick is over a foot into the snow and there is an ice line on it. That water is over 4' deep and it is that deep all of the way around the machine. God gave me that little island right there for some reason and I sure do appreciate it. Now look a little closer at this picture. Do you see any foot prints between the machine and the rope the ratchet straps are tied to? No, I had to walk behind where I stood to take this picture, walk down about 30 yards and cross the creek, walk in the woods on the other side and come out at the tree, then walk back around again, and again, and again, and again, etc. The ice would not hold me to go straight over to the tree, trust me, I tried. 
  Back to the stick, I cut this stick to make a walking / ice testing pole. I had to jab and prod the ice with every step, every trip around, because the ice kept changing and breaking up. I was wet to my knees where I would drop thru with one foot or another. Thank God I never fell straight thru to my chest.
  Now for the last part of the challenge. The machine is balanced on that little 3' island and the skis are hanging over 4' of water. The motor had been wet and I had to dry the wires to get it started. I had to get on, lean back on the machine putting the back into the water, get the skis pointed up over the bank of the creek and hit the gas and kind of leap the machine off of the island and across the water. Yee Ha,,,, I made it!
   It took me a couple of hours to get the machine out of the water and onto safe land. We wear boots called "Bunny Boots" up here. They are amazing technology. They do not saturate with water and they will keep your feet warm when full of water and it is 10 degree's outside. I can personally attest to this! I was warm enough I actually took a different route and still went to the Post Office. I did go into the generator shed while there and take off my boots and socks and wring out my socks and squeegee my polypropylene inner pants etc. Never ever wear cotton clothing out in the cold. If it gets wet it can kill you from hypothermia. The proper clothing was amazing. It is the first time I have had to depend on it in a "danger" situation. Had I not been able to get the machine out of the water or not been able to get it started I may have had to walk back home. Can you imagine doing that in 10 degree's soaking wet in cotton clothing?
   I also always have a survival pack with me that includes 5 different sources of Fire starters, a small pot to boil water for drinking, Extra gloves and hat, materials to make a shelter, a small first aid kit, an emergency satellite "Spot" locator that I can use to send for help and other misc small items (mirror, whistle, marker and flags, compass) etc. I also keep Flint Strike Fire starter in a zipped pants pocket and another one in a zipped coat pocket just in case the survival pack were to be lost (under water). I did have to change gloves quickly because they got soaked immediately and my hands went numb. I did warm up with dry gloves.
   I have been accused of carrying too much stuff before but I got to tell you, I never felt threatened in this wet situation because I knew I could survive and get dry, over night and more if I needed to. There is only about 5 or 6 hours of daylight here this time of year and help can't always get to you the same day, even with exact GPS coordinates. It was 2 hours after dark when I did get back home.
   I was able to get messages to Myra and let her know where I was and what was going on. Modern technology is wonderful.
   I know I made this story sound dramatic. I did not have a camera crew for a TV reality show, No helicopter, No Bear Grylse (Survival guy) No Yukon Men. It really was just a day in the life of living here. One I hope not to repeat, but it is part of it. I learned a few things that day, about the terrain and about myself. I also learned that I am not over prepared, just pretty well prepared. I may even add a couple of things after this.
Thank You for being on Our Adventure with us,
We'll talk to you again Soon,
PS: Myra has a bunch of pictures of our cabin remodel and other things going on around here but she is not here right now. We will post again soon.

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