Friday, January 21, 2005

By Jove, Don’t You Know

In early September 1928, after a hard day in our school, four of us decided to relax by climbing the Hump. There was no trail up the Hump in those years as there is now. Our usual way to the top was on the south side up through the steep coarse talus slope at the base

After admiring the view up the valley, the two Pittaway boys, Bert and Jack, and my older brother Clint and I noticed how messy the place looked. There were boulders lying all over. Being good house keepers, we decided to do some house cleaning. We’d get rid of some of the rocks that were cluttering the place.

The small rocks were easy to move, but they didn’t make much noise when we turned them loose from the top. They usually hit once or twice then disintegrated into small pieces.

There were some big rectangular boulders lying here and there and we went to work on one that was nearest to the more or less sheer face. It took some hard work to get it moving down the gradual incline that topped the cliff, but once it started moving the result was spectacular - it bounced out into the air in a free fall, making a gratifying whir as it fell, striking the talus below with a terrific crash before gradually coming to a stop near the edge of the Akamina Road.

Two more of the bigger rocks soon joined the first one down below, and we had a fourth one just starting to move by itself when we heard a loud yell and looked down to see the park superintendent, Bert Knight, whose house was located in the trees beyond the road standing there waving his arms and yelling something at us. He had picked a bad time to come up onto the road – the rock was already on its way. It rolled slowly, bounced out, whirred down, hit the talus slope, continued heading directly for Mr. Knight. Fortunately for him, he had the good sense not to try to outrun the fast moving boulder. He ran up the road. It passed behind him and disappeared into the trees.

A car started up the Akamina road, stopped, and two park wardens got out, looked up to the top of the Hump. We decided it was time to vacate that place and move on to some new territory in a hurry.

We left the Hump on the run, headed west for several hundred yards, above the big gray cliff that skirts the base of the mountain. When we thought we had enough distance, we cut down toward the road, crossed the creek, went up the other side to the Alderson trail and started running down it. We left the trail, and cut across the mountain (Bertha). Bert, being the fastest runner, was in the lead. As he passed a big spruce tree, a bear that had been sleeping there jumped up startled. It started woo-oo-oo-ffing, saw the rest of us coming and decided it had better start moving. This is did right on the heels of Bert.

With the bear in the midst of our group, we continued on across the base of the mountain, through the trees and the underbrush, heading for the Bertha trail. It occurred to us running in the rear, that with the bear out in front, this would be a good opportunity to turn him, run him through the campground and make him swim the lake. As a rule, when we were doing this, we had to spend an hour or two hunting around the campground for a bear. This one had already volunteered.

Bert, covering ground fast, seemed undecided as to who was chasing whom. It must have occurred to him that with the bear behind him instead of out in front as usual, he would not have any room to maneuver on the lake shore. However, the other three of us weren’t at all worried about this.

After a while, those of us in the rear figured the bear must be enjoying himself. Perhaps he liked running after Bert this way. He had made no attempt to turn off to one side or another, or to climb a tree as they usually did. He just loped along behind Bert and ahead of the rest of us.

We passes the police barracks, and continued on down Main Street. A car turned the corner into the street, stopped, and the driver got out. We saw that it was the park superintendent.

Bert stopped beside Mr. Knight. The bear turned away toward the lake shore. The three of us pounded up to where Mr. Knight and Bert were standing. “By Jove boys, don’t you know! By Jove! That was a brave thing you did, rescuing Bert that way! By Jove!”

Well, we were surprised at this. Here, after seeing Mr. Knight, we thought the least we’d get would be a good lecture about chasing bears, and possibly some questions about rock rolling, but there he was congratulating us for “saving Bert”. We didn’t enlighten him, figuring the less we said, the better.

Frank Goble


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