I always like our K Country contract. It’s an escape from the bugs and the temperatures are cold and the views are wonderful. But the weather is often intense. We usually get snow even at the end of June and in fact we had a hard frost on July 1 that froze our camp water lines. This year, (like nearly every other year,) I found myself at the epicenter of Canada’s big weather story or disaster.
Suz came down to camp since this contract is accessible by road. I took a rare day off and we did some hiking around the Crowsnest Pass area.Above: Suz enjoys the view above Frank Slide. Below: relaxing by Castle Falls.
It started raining fairly hard and all through the night it never let up. That day just happened to be a day off for the planters so they didn’t really care if it rained all day. My only concern at the time was whether some of our logging roads were being damaged making getting trees to the blocks difficult. I say difficult because I really had no sense that it was going to be impossible. Me and the foreman did some work close to camp and went to bed with the rain still coming down.
After another all night rain that gradually tapered, I awoke damp. When it rains for a couple days and you live in a tent, dampness is pretty unavoidable as it penetrates everything you own. But this morning I noticed something odd. The floor of my tent was not solid but rather it was billowy like a water bed. I was pretty sure the soil was saturated and the rainwater was now just flowing over the surface of the ground.
I got out of my tent and walked towards camp. Pretty much everything was under water and there was not just one new river running through camp but several rivers running down the nearby cutblock. It was 5am and I was pretty sure things were going south quickly. Normally at 5am there’s only one other person up besides me and they were nowhere to be found. I could see quite a few tents being inundated with encroaching lakes. I put the coffee on and the guy in charge of maintaining the camp came driving up with a couple of planters. It seems the had just escaped from a camper van that was being washed away by a swollen creek nearby!
Above: Sam’s van was parked on a road by a creek barely big enough to drink from. Extremely lucky no one was hurt.
With everyone safe for the moment, it was now 6 am and we had called off work. Mostly due to camp being a total mess and many people waking up soaked. We were still unaware of the conditions of the logging roads. Most people spent the day trying to dry things out, moving tents and trying to stay above the water. I went down to check out the Oldman River tributary that runs close to our camp. In low water you could jump across in rubber boots but today it was pretty scary!
Above: Our creek has turned into a tsunami. The most amazing thing about this was the sound. Huge boulders were being rolled down the bed of the river grinding together in a deep thunderous grind you could feel in your feet. I watched evergreen trees tumble into the creek and seconds later pop out stripped entirely of their greenery from the blender effect of the grinding boulders. It was amazing and scary.
Back at camp after hearing stories of what was happening to the creeks, we thought we had better check the status of our camp road, our link to the outside world. Remember we have no cell service way out here so we knew nothing about what was going on.
Above: Me and the Jaime took a truck and checked out our road. We got about 200 meters from camp only to find our road sliced right in half by a river that didn’t exist just two days before! After probing and examining the river we deemed it safe to run the truck through the bush to get around to the road on the other side. It’s worth mentioning too that we were hoping to get to town to get a barrel of fuel for camp to run pumps, purify water and keep our fridges and freezers running. We were already rationing water as the muddy, turbid water was difficult to purify. So we safely got to the other side using some “don’t try this at home” driving.
We turned off our logging road and onto the forestry trunk road, an all-weather road that goes south to the Crowsnest Pass and town. Just a few clicks down this road and we were thwarted again. Above: At this point it sunk in that we weren’t going to work anytime soon. Or doing anything besides rationing our food and water!
After a few days, we got some heavy equipment in to make temporary fixes to the roads which were chewed up pretty good everywhere. We lost a few days of work but got back into things. We eventually discovered the scope of the damage as we regained contact with the outside world. I heard that the Bow had flooded Calgary pretty bad and since our house is right off the Bow I made a pretty nervous call home when we got to town. I remember being quite reluctant to press the final number as I didn’t think things could be going very well. Amazingly our house was okay although lots of water in it but Suz moved important things upstairs and took care of everything like a pro. It turned out most of the damage was from tributaries which fed into the river just a few hundred meters downstream of our place.
Some video I took during the flood:
More pics can be found by clicking here