Sunday, 9 November 2014

5 September: Spectacular Jonas Shoulder and an accident at Jonas Creek

I wake up to a beautiful morning at the Waterfalls campground.  I head off along the trail, through a beautiful forest with frequent views to the increasingly spectacular mountains.  Soon I pass by an old warden cabin.  Halfway to the Jonas Cutoff campground I meet a group of hikers heading the other way.  Another day during which I'm not alone...

After a break at Jonas Cutoff I head up on the steep slope to Jonas Shoulder.  Soon I leave the forest and the landscape becomes open.  The view back toward Le Grand Brazeau with Poboktan Mountain becomes increasingly impressive.

One observation that really strikes me in the Canadian Rockies is how close the vegetation line is above the treeline.  The treeline appears to be at some 2200 metre, similar to in the Alps.  But already at 2400 metre, there is no vegetation growth of any kind.  The alpine tundra zone appears to be very narrow.  I wonder why that is.

The last section to Jonas Shoulder is on a trail through the small stones, what the Swiss might call "Verdammte schießhufe", except the trails here are easier than in the Alps.  When I finally reach Jonas Shoulder, I am overwhelmed by the spectacular view.  For many kilometres, the Jonas Pass valley is above the treeline, with hanging glaciers dropping dozens of streams that collect to the (doomed) Jonas Creek several hundred metres below me.  And with such a great day.  Today I have decided that I will secretly do random camping in the Jonas Pass area.  I didn't want to stop already at Jonas Cutoff — too early — and it's too far to continue all the way to Four Point.  I practice leave no trace ethics, so I believe it should be fine.

From Jonas Shoulder, I've seen a nice little lake just on the other side of Jonas Creek.  It's off the trail but I think it should be fine to go there.  The NTS map has the trail crossing Jonas Creek and then heading up to Jonas Pass on its left bank, but this appears in disagreement with the actual landscape.  After having descended the steepest part I head off the trail toward Jonas Creek.

Jonas Creek is a medium-sized creek.  Should be possible to step from stone to stone to cross it, I've done many creeks like this in Sápmi.  No problem.  One step into the river.  Good.  My shoes are still watertight, they're relatively new, this is in fact the first major hike I use them for, having bought them in Norrköping.  Next step.  Just a few steps and I'm across.

When I'm in the middle of the creek, I step on a stone and my foot slips.  A second later I find myself lying in the stream.  Or rather, my backpack is lying in the stream and I am lying on top of it, relatively dry.  As soon as I can I take the backpack off and rise.  Then I notice that my photo camera is lying in the water and my GPS-receiver is floating down the stream.  I quickly grab my photo camera — completely soaked — while I run with my backpack to the shore, no longer caring about wet feet.  Then I run down along the water hoping to retrieve my GPS-receiver.  It was actually floating.  After a little while I notice it lying on a stone, turning as a thin layer of water is flowing below it.  Miraculously, it is still working.

The same can not be said for the camera.  Trying to switch it on or off results in scary noises.  I can see nothing through the viewfinder.  The lense is completely fogged up.  There is water in the system.  Everywhere.

Is it fixable?  I don't know.  I can only hope.  For now, all I can do is proceed.  It's still a sunny afternoon, I hang my camera outside.  The following days I do the same.  After a while the viewfinder is no longer fogged up.  Maybe it's going to be allright...