The Kootenays are a special place. The forested slopes of southeastern British Columbia offer a quiet seclusion from the outside world, a quality that has led to an influx of exiles over the years. Whether fleeing religious or political persecution, or being forcefully segregated from the general population, many people found their way to the Kootenays in search of refuge from another life. The qualities that attract people to the Kootenays in the first place hold considerable influence over the decision to leave. It wasn't just the vibe or atmosphere of Kootenay culture that drew us in - southeast BC is a snowsport paradise. Pillow fields, big, steep mountains, deep snow, great sledding and touring and an abundance of access options from logging roads to helicopters put winter activities front and centre almost everywhere you look. If we didn't have an obligation to return to Whistler, we probably never would have left - hell, Shayne stayed behind on the promise that we would pick him up on our way to SIA in Denver.
It took mere minutes for the powerful pull of the Kootenays to exert its force on the Surface crew: not 5 km across the Alberta border our truck fell victim to a black ice sneak attack and plowed straight through a large yellow corner sign into the ditch. If you can't Dodge it, Ram it... right? Thankfully, our low speed and some slick (haaaa!) driving by Eliel kept all 4 tires on the ground and limited the damage to a bent license plate. After extricating the Surfacemobile from a snowdrift, we attempted to get ourselves back on the road - despite being able to drive around just fine in the wide, flat ditch, the steep embankment proved too much for the truck to handle and we were forced to call a tow. Big props to the Sparwood RCMP detachment for hooking us up with some flares to prevent a loaded logging truck from landing itself ontop of us. Standing on the side of a road as a semi trailer barrels straight downhill toward you, knowing that all that stands between you and fifty tonnes of of truck and timber is a corner that has more in common with a curling rink than a highway... it's terrifying, to say the least, especially when you're sharing a ditch with a collection of crosses - a chilling reminder that our situation could be a lot worse.
In the end, we got the truck out without further incident and continued - slowly - onward to Fernie. Nothing says "photo op" like the bright flashing lights of a police cruiser, so once the flares were lit I pulled out the camera bag and documented our near disaster. This would prove to be only the first of several incidents while in the Kootenays that seemed to serve as an omen that we weren't meant to leave. That, or Eliel needs new tires for his truck.