We topped up our gas tanks at Keremeos again and were soon flying up the Ashinola canyon. With spare gas and camping equipment we were a tad heavy and we worked those little flying machines pretty hard getting up over the mountain. We managed it, however, and were soon setting down on a clear dry strip above our cap rock camp. We unloaded our stuff and folded the wings back and tied them, in case a wind came up, and then carried our gear down to our campsite under the ledge. Gary soon had a fire going and the tea-billy hanging from a stick. The smoke curled lazily around but wasn’t a problem. After lunch we snoozed awhile and when I awoke, Gary was off poking around the bush somewhere. I didn’t worry about him, as he was wise to the ways of the woods.
We each packed a tin whistle and had a code agreed upon. One blast meant “Where are you?” It was to be answered by one blast. Two blasts meant “Come.” Three meant “Help.” Of course if a fellow was watching a deer up close or trying to make friends with a bear he wouldn’t sound a loud answering blast on his whistle.
Gary was back in about an hour with four nice trout. He always packs a fish line coiled up in his cap. If he finds fish he cuts a willow stick for a rod and ties that line on. Before long we were having a nice dinner.
Well, with that and glutting ourselves on huckleberries and whatever else mother nature was wont to provide, and sleeping snugly at night beneath the caprock by the glowing embers of our fire, we just weren’t in a hurry to leave.
One day, as Gary was away exploring, he heard a plaintiff cry and, on poking around a big tree the wind had blown down, found a fox pinned underneath. He got a sharp stick and dug the dirt away from beneath it and pulled it free. It didn’t seem badly hurt and didn’t scamper away quickly as one would expect, but stood chattering away to Gary in a squeaky little voice before leaving.
The next day Gary saw it again and followed to see where it would go. The fox led him to a den hole under a big boulder. Gary sat nearby and began singing a little song so the fox would know he was there. In a few moments she came out and sat near him, again muttering sounds in her squeaky voice.
Every morning after breakfast Gary would hike over to the den under the big boulder and sing his little song. The fox always came out of the den and sat beside him. One morning five baby foxes followed her from the den and, when they were all around him, she barked twice and left and Gary knew he was supposed to baby sit until she got back. The kits were all over him, wrestling and playing. In about an hour mamma fox returned, carrying a fat ground squirrel. She laid it down for the kits to eat but they didn’t know what it was for. They began playing with it, tossing it around and playing tug-of-war, so the old fox tore it apart and ate half of it. They got the idea then and cleaned up the remainder with much growling and fighting. Gary spent so much time with the foxes I began thinking I had lost him for the summer, but when we ran out of food I was able to convince him it was time to go home.
One morning we spread the wings of our ultra lights and sailed off the mountain top, high out over the valley and, though we were soon landing in the home pasture, I knew Gary’s mind was still back at a den on a far off mountain. But we would go again. There was no end of days and no end of places to explore. All one needed was a little Imagination.