Saturday, August 10, 2013

Midway Peeps

The most likely spot for us to bicycle camp in Midway had a sign in bold letters which announced RESERVED FRIDAY BARRY. After some head scratching, Roy and I decided that the sign meant that we could camp here as long as we were gone by Friday afternoon. Our plans were to leave Midway on Friday morning and cycle the 70 kilometers to Beaverdell where we knew we could find  camping at a place called Zack's.

Not long after we had our tents set up and our Thermarests inflated (with sleeping bags on top fluffing up), a shiny red pickup pulled in just a few camp sites away from us. The two occupants quickly began to unload camping gear from the bed of the truck and it was then that we noticed that the vehicle was from Environment Canada.

Not every day do you see government employees camping. Oh sure, you see them in the lobbies of hotels and their government vehicles in the parking lot. But camping? Roughing it?

As part of their setting up camp, one came over to the water faucet near our camp and filled a large jerry can full of cold water and the other one sauntered over a while later, munching on a submarine sandwich stuffed with potato salad. This was Julien, a biologist with Environment Canada, working on a project to study the declining numbers of a particular woodpecker named after the explorer Lewis from Lewis and Clark fame.

We spent a happy evening chatting with Julien and discovering just how hard he and his partner were working every day outdoors in the elements studying these birds. They would leave camp by 3:30-4 am so that they could be at a woodpecker's nest to observe them as they left the nest to forage for food. They would haul a heavy camera through the woods to peek into nests high up in the trees and make detailed notes of the bird's every activity. The sun falling in the western sky was when they would pull into camp and set up their tents and discuss the day's results.

All their work was done in 35+ temperatures in direct sunlight surrounded by biting mosquitos and a host of other insects that would drive a less motivated person to distraction.
The man himself

Julien was attracted to our campsite since he is a cycling enthusiast himself and he wanted to know all about our trip. We could gleefully tell him that biting bugs were not a problem since the insects couldn't get a grip on us with the wind generated by our cycling whipping past our bodies and keeping those nasty critters at bay.

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