The master of deception - Caroline Stroud had me load the car with camping gear, cold weather clothes, a wetsuit, and told me to get ready for any number of unknown adventures to unfold over the next 24 hours. She is known for elaborate birthday celebrations, so I wasn’t sure what to expect as we collected friends Tara and Seb and headed north out of Whistler.
A few minutes into the drive, Seb asked me if I had ever been skydiving before - and the secret was out. Apparently Tara was much worse at keeping secrets than Caroline. Seb and I have birthdays only a few weeks apart, so the girls had planned to take us skydiving. All of the gear which took me an hour to organize was yet another decoy and completely unnecessary.
We arrived in Pemberton excited and nervous, but with a beautiful sunny July day, the sky dotted with happy clouds beckoned us to put blind faith in the hands of others. As we signed our liability wavers and got suited up, our instructor (a hollywood north stunt man) and his friends went for a quick jump.
Little black dots left in the wake of the small aircraft hung silently 3000 meters above us until we lost them against the dark imposing face of Mount Curry. Moments later their chutes opened like gunshots and the professional divers spiralled downwards at breakneck speed. Our instructor was obviously trying to show off to us or his friends and came in to land first.
Only 20 meters or so off the ground, our man rotates into a flip which slingshots him downwards toward the runway going 10 times faster than his already impressive clip. Could it have been that the runway was too warm? Maybe he wasn’t wearing his normal shoes, or perhaps a slight miscalculation in velocity and elevation, but what seemed like a well rehearsed maneuver was about to go horribly wrong.
Instead of skidding gracefully to a stop which would have been really slick, his shoes caught the tarmac like a rock under a skateboard wheel, stopping him in his tracks, and flattening him onto the solid ground with a dull thud. His parachute leapt ahead, dragging him along the ground relieving him of more denim and skin.
His friends helped him up, and at least he was walking away. Seb and I looked at each other and simultaneously said “You’re going with him!” The truth was that he wouldn’t be taking anyone diving until he regrew a bit of the missing flesh. Needless to say that our nerves had gone up a notch. Unfortunately, or possibly of good fortune, there weren’t any other instructors around that day, so the 24 hours of adventure was to be downgraded once again to “Well, what do we do now??”
We decided to drive around and in the native settlement of Mount Curry, we stumbled across a cardboard sign saying Rodeo with a large arrow. This was a true backyard rodeo as it was literally in someone’s backyard. Of the 50 or so people, we were the only non natives, but were welcomed in just in time for the amateur bull riding competition. Keeping with the carnage theme of the day, we watched as rider after rider was tossed around like ragdolls, landing hard onto the dusty ground while long trails of snot shot out of the nostrils of the flailing bulls. A very unexpected but fantastic show of local culture.
- July 2013