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I could not believe they were out there knowing full well how treacherous the route was. They explained to me that they did not usually take that way but they saw me and realized that I would not have been able to proceed without their assistance. They mentioned they had lived here for 10 years and they ski about 100 times per season. They have literally ridden this mountain a thousand times — they could not have been better guides!
They were native French speakers, but their English was impeccable. I told them they were my guardian angels and they knew it too — that they had saved my life.
Now at the bottom of the valley floor we made our way alongside the creek bank for about 800 metres through narrow trees and dodging gapping holes atop the creek bed before turning out onto a snowmobile track. There were no tracks ahead of us to that point. If it wasn't for Jorice's familiarity of the mountain I undoubtedly would have got lost on my own. I wasn't in the clear yet either. Civilization was still eight kilometres away and I would have to walk through knee deep snow along a flat service road (Cheakamus Lake Forest Service Road) accessible only by snowmobile.
It had snowed 130 cm in the past week so even the snowmobile track was completely covered. It took over two hours without stopping to make it to Function Junction. During that time I reflected on what had just happened and how truly lucky I was for those strangers to have crossed my path. I was sweating profusely from the intense exercise, which had soaked all my base layers and I knew I would have surely froze to death if I had got lost or stuck on my own and had to spend the night outside at -10C.
I had no food, no warmth, and no one knew of my whereabouts. My chances of making it out of there on my own would have been slim to none. I could have been wandering around aimlessly for hours until I died a slow painful death like others before me.
At last I could see the highway and the sight of cars passing made me feel amazingly reassured. I rejoiced, and at that moment, it started to get dark. Night was falling and so were tears of joy and humility, which flooded my face. I made it, I was off the mountain, and just in the nick of time too. I thought of all the people I ever loved and how one selfish decision on my part could have meant never seeing them again.
December 5, 2013, 11:00 AM
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