By Leon Lorenz
I recently spent five days exploring and filming the pristine Raush River Valley which is a beautiful and remote place to capture the wild. The Raush River is a major tributary to the Fraser River with its headwaters near Mount Sir Wilfred Laurier and the Premier Range area. Unfortunately for the most part the weather was cold and extremely wet as I skirted swamps, small lakes and followed game trails along the river banks. Where there were no trails I bushwhacked through heavy stands of timber which mainly consists of towering cedar, hemlock, spruce and Douglas fir. Actually it seemed I was traveling through a rainforest for much of my time. Because the conditions were so wet and swampy along the river, I chose to wear neoprene hip-waders for the entire trip where if I would have been wearing hiking boots I would have been soaked in the first 5 minutes.
On one particular cold day, as I was ambushing for moose along a marsh, heavy rain and sleet started to come down in buckets so I sought shelter under a large spruce tree with the temperature (according to my little pack thermometer) reading 0 degree C. At this temperature with the extreme wetness my body was rapidly getting colder with each passing hour and hypothermia was a real threat. Normally I try to avoid building a fire so I don’t alert wildlife with smoky smelling clothes, however this time I knew I had no other choice and soon had a fire going that I almost wanted to hug at first. Gradually I warmed up and much to my delight the pair of river otters which I had filmed earlier in the day on a beaver lodge returned to a nearby tiny grassy island to play and frolic despite the freezing temperature and heavy rain. Suddenly the larger of two noticed my fire and stood up for a better look and then they both went back to playing and later to fishing. What amazing, hardy and graceful creatures they are.
Nearly every trip I make has its highs and lows and this trip was no exception. Being mentally and physically prepared for the backcountry is a must as well as maybe making adjustment changes to your gear or procedures that could save your life.