The Holberg Adventure
I was offered a contract to lay out the route for a trail north of Holberg, up on the strandby main. The job was to lay out a trail from the client’s property over to an unnamed lake, this lake is one of the northernmost lakes on the island and is several km from his property. We were to be paid 1500.00 plus expenses. My son agreed to join me and I offered him 750.00. We did not know just how long this would take, so we packed food, camping gear, and at 6 am Saturday morning, we pulled out of Sayward and were on our way. We made it to the eve river rest area where the alternator blew. My son had a bar charger with a vehicular charger and we used that to put a charge in the battery, we had to do this several times as we could make about 10 clicks per charge. Eventually, a truck stopped and we hooked my jumper cables up and put in a 20-minute charge, this gave us enough power to get home. We transferred all our gear into the Oldsmobile Bravada and decided to head out early on Sunday.
6 am and we were off again, the trip to the strandby was uneventful and we arrived around 11 am. The strandby river flows into Shuttleworth bight and is the furthest you can drive to on the north island. From where we stopped the auto we could see the windmills that are located on nob hill, just across the strandby river valley, we were quite a bit further north than where these windmills located. We put on our cork boots and rain gear and headed into the bush. The going was ok at first and we made good time, we had GPS and it was pretty easy to lay out the route, eventually, the going got pretty rough, with lots of logs down across our route, thick underbrush, and creeks to cross, but we finally made it out to the lake.
We found an old homestead here and decided it was a great spot to end the trail. My son was checking out the old cabin and area around it while headed down to the lake to see where the client could put a dock in. It was pretty wet with high water. At one point I got my boot stuck almost getting a soaker, so I went to take a step back with my unstuck boot, unknown to me, my other shoelace was untied with one strand being under the stuck boot. So as I leaned back to adjust my balance and pull my foot out, my foot would not go back and as I was already on the lean, there was nothing I could do but fall back, I did and wound up swimming in the lake. I had my camera in my hand and all I could was hold it high as I went right under. So there l was, swimming in the northernmost lake on the island.
The way back to the truck was pretty tough, I wound up getting leg cramps in both my groins and it was quite the struggle. We reached the truck just at dusk. I changed and we headed off, happy in the fact that it only took one day to complete the job. The road was good and we expected to reach Holberg in about an hour. On the drive out we hit a rock and tore a hole in the oil pan which drained the engine in about 1 minute. I shut it off and we took a look, there was no going on so we took stock of our situation, we were completely immobilized with 26 km of old road where we were unlikely to see another soul in between us and Holberg. With my leg cramps, I knew it would be a tough walk but we started to walk out. I made it about a km and the leg cramps came back, I could not go further, my boy Robert said to me “ dad, you have to go back while I head out, I will find help and get back for you as soon as I can”. It was dark and on the way in we saw many bear scats and I was worried about my son and had a hard time letting him head out alone, but my boy was a grown man and quite capable in the woods, I was just being a dad, he both had a headlamp. I headed back to the SUV.
I could not run the SUV but had a sleeping bag that I wrapped myself up in and got settled in for the night, l figured it would sometime the next day before help arrived, I fell asleep after some time. Sometime around midnight, l heard a truck coming up the road, sure enough, it was my boy with help, he had run into Ken and his incredible pup, timber, who was a friend from Holberg at about 6 km out of Holberg and they returned to grab me. Ken took us to his house, fed us, and provided rooms for us to get some sleep, he told us he would be heading out to work around 5 am but that we could stay there using his phone and internet to find a ride out. I got online before sacking out and put out the request for a ride out. My son Robert was pretty awesome, made this old dad proud
In the morning, l turned on Ken’s computer to begin searching for help and there was a message from my good friend Donny who is from Woss asking me where in Holberg we were as he was ready to come to get us. Could not connect with him from Ken’s computer but could not, we decided to try and find a cell connection but had to wander a bit around town to find one, finally got one at the ibis. Just as l was trying to call him, Donny pulled up to the Ibis, smiling like a cat chewing bumblebees, it was good to see him. Over the years Donny has pulled us out of many bad situations and saved our asses almost every time we got into one, you could not ask for a better friend. He picked us up and off to Sayward we headed. The trip was fine and we got home quickly. I got on the horn and called another friend here who had a trailer I could borrow, I arranged to get it the next day, he also lent me a set of racks to load the SUV on the trailer. Donny came early and we went and got the trailer and off we go back to Holberg and the SUV. On the way in, several of the deck boards broke and were gone when got back, on a closer inspection, we realized all the deck boards were rotten, we managed to locate some used plywood that we could place over the deck boards making it strong enough to hold the SUV. We got up to the SUV mid-afternoon and pulled the trailer in place, I set up the racks and started the SUV, and quickly tried to pull it up onto the trailer, both racks collapsed and were completely useless now. So here we were needing to remove both a trailer and an SUV out of the strandby.
Donny says, let’s tie the car to the trailer and pull it all out at once to Holberg, during this time, the rear brakes began making some pretty horrible sounds. We made it to about 5 km from Holberg and decided we would take one at a time from there. We took them to Ken’s house but he was not home, we dropped both off there and hoped he would be ok with that. We figured with all the noise the brakes were making we would leave both at Ken’s. We made it out and I again got on the horn looking for a trailer and truck I could rent to get this SUV out. I was getting tired of this drive.
No luck on finding any rentals for what I needed and I even phoned all the north island tow companies, only one would drive the Holberg road and he wanted 2200.00 for the tow, he did say that if we could get it out to the pavement which was 61 km of rough logging road away that he would tow to Sayward for 500.00. So l called Donny with the news and he said if l could do his brakes we could tow the damn thing out with his truck. I agreed and Donny’s wife headed into Campbell to pick up all the brake parts, he thought he might as well replace everything, it was a 1300 bill. Patty picked me up on the way back home while he got the truck up on blocks and removed the rear wheels. I got to work as soon as I got there starting with the calipers, as I removed them I noticed that there was nothing wrong with them but as I pulled off the rotors, all the emergency brake pads and hardware fell out in pieces., the same thing on both sides, It was the cause of the problem, we had no replacement parts for this so I just removed everything from inside the drum, Don decided to have me replace the pads on the rear brakes but we did not need to replace the calipers or rotors. The truck was good to go, Donny took back the unused parts, picked up the needed emergency brake pads and hardware later, and got 1100.00 back. Donny took me home and would pick me up in the morning for another go at getting the SUV and trailer out to the highway.
Donny picked me up at around 10 am and off we went again, determined that we would get it done today. We made good time getting to Holberg and once we were there, we hooked up the trailer and then backed up to the SUV, l tied a big rope between both, and off we went, Donny pulling the trailer with the SUV tied to the trailer about 50 feet behind. It was a slow haul out the 61 km but the rope only broke once and in about an hour and a half we were at the highway. I phoned the tow guy who arrived about 30 minutes later, we loaded the SUV, and off he went, the driver being 500 dollars richer. 2 hours later all was home and the adventure was over, while except I now need to put in an alternator into the van so we can be mobile again, fix the brakes on Donny’s truck and replace the oil pan in the SUV.