Did I just See That???

I have interviewed several outdoors men and women  who have amazed me with their goal setting ideas and ability to accomplish things like 100 peaks, 100 hikes or a hike a day for health. I consider geocaching to be a form of hiking and I was very pleased when a geocacher from Abbostsford B.C., agreed to an […]

Written By Clayton Kessler

On December 30, 2009

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I have interviewed several outdoors men and women  who have amazed me with their goal setting ideas and ability to accomplish things like 100 peaks, 100 hikes or a hike a day for health. I consider geocaching to be a form of hiking and I was very pleased when a geocacher from Abbostsford B.C., agreed to an interview recently. This geocacher, Kelly Contant, chronicles some of his experiences on his blog and and I was amazed to see that he has recently completed his 1000th Geocache.

Kelly Contant completes 1000 Geocaches!

Kelly took just over a year to reach his 1000th Geocache. He found his first Geocache on March 16th 2008 and his 1000th on July 25th 2009 so in just 16 months and 9 days he completed 1000 Geochaches. The following interview with Kelly will allow you to get to know him a bit better and see how close he came to losing his life on a recent outdoor adventure.

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

I would have to say through car camping in the many provincial campsites just outside of the lower mainland. One special place that comes to mind is the Sasquatch Provincial Park in the Harrison Hotsprings area. I went there with friends from age 16 and onward learning through a few select friends how to make a fire, setup a tent, cook on a camp stove,ect.

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

My favorite area lately has been the Chilliwack River Valley. There are many wonderful one day and over night hikes and world class fishing to be found throughout the Valley. I have just began to explore the area and can’t wait to see the many exceptional areas I will find this spring.

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

I knew it was coming and I was starting to wonder what I was going to do to celebrate my 1000th Geocache find milestone. Perhaps a hiking event to a Geocache out in the wilderness, one that I could get all my friends together and do with me.

Well the perfect opportunity arose as a good friend of mine was going on a hike to celebrate his 900th cache and wanted to know who would like to join him. This particular hike, the  Pierce Lake Trail on Mt. MacFarlane, had been on my mind for quite some time as it was a long and challenging one which had a geocoin of mine placed up there by two other good friends who were taunting me to go retrieve it. The only problem is that I’m new to the longer hikes and do not like going at them alone. So when Paul mentioned he was going for it I said hey mind if I come along and make it my 1000th cache. He graciously agreed and we set the plans into motion. Another buddy saw our plans on twitter and said he could come and make it his 800th cache as well. How about that three milestones on one hike 800, 900, and 1000.

I was so excited I was going to rescue my geocoin and get to try out my new hydration backpack I just got. So we all met up at Paul’s for 9am well a little past 9am but close enough. We got to the trailhead around 10am and off we went. As for the challenging trail that was an understatement. This sucker went straight up and basically never stopped. I was totally exhausted by the time I reached the cache having made at least 2 dozen badly needed rest stops along the way. The rest of the in better shape group were very kind in waiting for the old husky guy trying to recapture his youth. We got to the cache and they let me find it, then we took our pictures and I dunked my head in the creek nearby to celebrate and cool my over heated body down.

We decided to go back to a lookout area a little ways back down the trail for a bite to eat then made our way back down. I thought down was going to be easy well it wasn’t I started to get rubber legs about half way down and ran out of water as well. Mental note the 2l water bag needs to become a 3l one before my next hike. One good point was that the saying “The trip back always seems shorter” held true cause we were back down the trail faster than I thought we would be. All said and done we were about 4hrs there and back I believe. I felt exhausted yet like a million bucks at the same time. I am really starting to enjoy this style of geocaching and look forward to my next hike and milestone.

Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

Just this past spring I was out on a lake for a day of float tube Fishing. On a bit of a slow period I was grabbing some snacks from a cooler on the back of a friend’s pontoon. I kicked away from him and was putting everything into a side pocket when I looked forward to see my rod slowly sinking vertically into the drink. And I mean slowly sinking as I had enough time to reverse kick towards it to retrieve the rod so I thought. I was getting really close to it and got the idea I could lean forward just enough to grab the tip of my rod. I did grab it but as I did I leaned forward just enough to have the u tube very forcefully and in a blink of an eye flip forward tossing me into the water and the back of the tube hit me in the back of the neck.

When I was in the water I tried to lean back to get my head above the surface which worked for a brief moment allowing me to take a breath, but the longer I pushed against the tube the harder it became to keep above the surface as the tube only pushed back harder keeping me under. Luckily I did not panic at this and rather I dove farther under the water away from the tube in hopes of getting free. It worked sort of, I felt the tubes backrest slid down my back but it stopped shortly there after. This allowed me to keep my head above water and swim forward pulling the tube with me. I was wearing neoprene waders that were very tight so water was not getting into them. On an after thought we figured if I was wearing loose breathable waders that could have been a different story all together with them filling up with water and creating a weighted force pulling me downward.

But again luckily I wasn’t. I swam over to my buddy’s pontoon and pulled myself up out of the water just enough to flip myself backwards and right the u tube. Once I did this the u tube was back on its top but I was still in the water kind of resting my back on the sling wear my bum should be and my head against the backrest. I carefully reached up once I gave my rod to my pontoon buddy yes I did get the rod but in the flipping motion I broke the tip off. As I reached up I grabbed the side pocket handles and pulled myself up and onto the seat sling. What amazed me the most was how calm I was. My buddy looked at me in disbelief once I was back on my seat and all he could say was “Did I just see that”.

Once I caught my breath all I could think of was dang it I broke my rod. Back at the camp after all the post discussion the two things I remember the most were how fast the u tube flipped and how hard the head rest was pushing me forward into the water. If I tried to lean back which was the first reactionary thing I did it only pushed back even harder keeping me under water and I quickly realised that would have been the wrong thing to keep trying to do. I can see that being the major factor for someone who is in that situation and in a panicked state. To try and flip yourself backwards and correct the tube while in the water would only result in drowning I’m sure. The best thing I felt I did was actually diving down deeper and farther into the water which allowed my tube to slide down my back giving me more body to get out of the water and more freedom to swim towards shore or whatever was closest which in my case was a buddies pontoon boat. The fact that I was in a U Tube rather than a Round tube I feel was also an advantage. The U shape gave me a little more angular movement towards the surface where as a round tube i’m sure wouldn’t. Those types of tubes hold you farther under water when flipped.
Looking back and as I type this I feel very lucky. Given any more additional factors such as currents, long swim to shore, or windy conditions I might not have been so lucky. Yet in a kind of weird way I like knowing that if I was to flip again I would know what to do to get out of it and no know that I am one of the types of persons who doesn’t panic in that type of situation. However I wouldn’t recommend this test to anyone else.

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

Once at an island campground just off shore from Sechelt we had a couple Racoons take out bag of Marshmellows. The funny thing was they left a trail of them which lead us right to their hiding spot where we found a bunch of stored up goodies,

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

Haven’t had the chance yet although I have had one 12 hour hike to which I learned the lesson of taking plenty of water. We ran out and had to chance the drinking of the creek water along the trail route back. That was 6 months ago so I think we are in the clear, however I made sure to get some water purification tablets the following weekend.

What is your favourite outdoor website?

A local hiking community online known as Club Tread, it’s where I get all my hiking destinations, GPS routes, Gear reviews, and local forum chatter.

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

MEC in Vancouver

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