Opinion

Riding along in an ol’ crummy with Logger Mike

You could just see the first orange glow of sunlight creeping over the peaks of the Coastal Mountains as I stepped up to the old crummy.

“Mornin’, git in,” he said with a nod.

As the name suggests, the ol’ pickup had seen better days, even by crummy standards. Held together by rust and hardened grease, the passenger door opened with an angry creak as I hoisted myself up onto the bench seat.

The once black vinyl was cracked with age and held together in spots by tattered duct tape.

The cab smelled of old cigarettes and a few ancient green packages of Export A’s still lay crushed on the floor along with a crumpled Lucky can.

“Don’t smoke ‘em anymore. Gave it up years ago,” said Big Logger Mike as I kicked the empty packs into a corner.

I was here in the early morning hours to finally make due on a promise I had made to the big yellow fellow years ago: To take a first light ride with him up into the hills and the former cutblocks where he cut down trees and hauled out wood.

“Where we heading?” I asked, as the diesel engine roared and sputtered to life.

“Just up the road,” he replied, pointing to Menzies Mountain.

The white cap of Menzie’s snow was long gone on the dark mountain, but the green treetops were now visible on the peak as the sun’s rays began to stretch out.

“Started out logging here when I was just a kid, 15 or 16 I figure,” said Logger Mike as we pulled off the Island Highway onto the gravel road. “Didn’t have much use for school – besides, I was makin’ more than my teacher!”

He laughed hard and slapped his knee as we began the climb up. The old truck rumbled and rattled as we bounced over the rough logging road.

As the orange glow of day grew brighter, I looked over at the man who normally resides on our downtown spar pole and noticed he was smiling.

It was the smile of a man back in his element. The yellow duds were gone, replaced by sturdy black Carhartt work pants and a grey wooly sweater that had more than a few holes. The work clothes even smelled like chainsaw oil and wood chips.

But then the smile darkened as we went around another corner.

“That’s where Slim Eddy got it,” he said, pointing up the bluff. “Ol’ snag just came down and buried him. Don’t think he knew what hit him...too many we lost...I was lucky, I guess.”

He shook off the memory and the smile came back as the truck came to a stop, “Behold!” he announced.

The sun in all its glory now breached the peaks, as the rays filled the cab and warmed our faces. Discovery Passage and the Strait of Georgia twinkled as the sunlight danced across the waves, and the shade of night was slowly pulled back across our fair city.

“Wow,” was all I could say.

“Yup, that’s what I think too,” replied Big Logger Mike. “Thanks for coming along. This is something everyone should see.”

paulr@campbellrivermirror.com

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