Tuesday, April 3, 2007

April Fools

Yes, the apostrophe was left out on purpose. That's plural, not possessive.

So around here, people don't do much on Sunday. Store is closed, not much hunting or fishing or anything goes on. They go to church and that's about it. Religion is taken pretty seriously, which is understandable, considering the timeline.

Us kass'aq teachers aren't really bound by such restrictions. To us, it's the **weekend**, and we want to get out there and make use of the time off however we can. Sometimes, this means heading out for some hunting on our precious last day before the new week begins.

Sometimes this choice to disregard the fact that Sunday should be a day of rest....well, it comes back to bite us in the butt.

The original plan for the weekend had included a trip up to the treeline by the Yukon river to collect some wood for this week's school bonfire. I've never been, but supposedly it's a 3-or-so hour trip each way, and a pretty rough one at that. However, the weather didn't seem to want to cooperate, as the temps had (finally) gotten up to a couple degrees over the freezing mark, which made for some pretty thick fog and pretty slushy snow conditions. Not exactly the best riding weather.

So, the treeline trip scratched, Peter and I decided to take a quick trip out beyond the village to poke around for some ptarmigan. Not too adventurous, but it beats sitting around the house watching TV, etc. Little did we know what the fates had in store. First, Peter manages to dive his machine nose-first into a gully between drifts, getting hung up and monumentally stuck. After trying to dig for a while with hands and sticks, we decide to give pulling it out with mine a shot. Now, knowing the snow in front of his machine is going to be similar to the snow he's stuck in, I'm not feeling too good about where this is headed, and the prospect of having both machines stuck a few miles outside of Akula is making me a little nervous. As I pull in front of him, I feel my track getting sucked down, and after momentarily getting stuck I'm able to gun it out....and right over an 8 foot drop. Next thing I know, I'm flying through the air, off my sled, and I land on my back on the snow with my shotgun planted barrel first down to the trigger guard about 10 inches from my ear.

It's at this point I start wondering about the Sunday + April Fool's Day combination we're dealing with.

But, my machine is still free, and we've proven that pulling Peter's out isn't going to be an option, so after shaking the cobwebs from my head we get back to work digging. This is when we decide that larger sticks might be more useful, so Peter whips out his trusty Leatherman to use the sawblade....and promptly breaks the tool. So after digging for a while and trying to lift the back end out with no luck, we decide to head back home to grab more help, some shovels, etc. So after we get my machine all rigged up with out stuff and both jump on, and then finally decide with the help of GPS and a compass which way to head through the fog, we get on our way. On our way, of course, meaning needing to get out of the area of deepish, melting slush we've been digging through. I decide to try to move pretty quickly to avoid getting bogged down, which worked well, until the fog and lack of contrast between the air and the snow caused me to bang headfirst into a drift that turned out to be a pretty sweet jump...had we been prepared for it. Peter banged his face into my back, and we hit so hard that the GPS around my neck actually snapped off its strap and went spinning through the air in slow motion. Luckily, we didn't land on it.

So, after getting back and grabbing shovels and a couple people to help, we headed back and got the sled out...embarrassingly easily, in fact. I contend that we had loosened it up before we left. There was a little bit of an issue with getting separated on the way back, and having to double back and look for people, but at that point my machine was starting to not like the >32 degree weather, so I limped home before adding an overheated sled to my day's list of woes.

Moral of the story? Maybe there is something to this "no hunting on Sunday" rule. I'll definitely think twice next time, I know that.


Anonymous said...

Hey~ First, I'm glad you're safe...and after that I have to tell you that your tale of snow and mishaps made me laugh so hard there were tears. It sort of reminded me of a day in Point, there was Kimmie, a ditch, your car......Miss you! Melissa

Kimmie said...

Melissa recapped this story for me at your wedding and I had to dig through your entries to find it. Just wiped away my own tears!