Canada 2010 at the rigsite

Day : September

Weather: Autumnal with a touch of snow

Route: 80km down the Ojay Main


I usually work over in Norway, but as it had been slow this year, work called up and asked (hinted) would I go over to Canada for a trip. So I agreed and in double quick time found myself on a flight over to Calgary, stopped to get work permit and then on to another flight to Edmonton. I had time to grab a sleep thankfully after a long day travelling (8 hour time difference). Before nodding off I phoned Mike on the rig somewhere and he told me I had a 9hr drive to get over to the location. He asked did I find the truck in the car park – I told him yes but wondered where the gear shift was – it was automatic anyway so it was ok.
The next morning I had no idea what I was in for, but had a decent set of instructions for the journey, including expected travelling times. From Edmonton I basically set out west to the Alaska Highway and made my way out north west along a wide highway to a small town called Beaver Lodge – there’s a massive fibre glass beaver in the car park! Here I met up with Mike who was to guide me to the site. My vehicle was a big pick up truck – I’d never driven one before and not been driving off road either – but all that was to change soon. After lunch and a chat Mike led me towards Kelly Lake and then we stopped at a turn off. He told me how to stick the truck in 4 wheel drive, tune in the CB radio, and follow him. Eat my dirt more like – 80kms of dirt road, at best quite slick and 60mph. At worst full of lumps and bumps, loose stone, and like driving in fog if I got too close. The CB radio was to call out our progress to other track users every couple of kms – it wasn’t a great highway and head-on crashes have been known. At times it was like steering a ship, and it was a bit of a switchback trail as well – they tell me its a bit different in winter when the snow comes, but in the main it's straight like a Roaman road. After a few hours driving we got to the rigsite, and I was ready for another sleep…phew. Now all I need to think about is the bears, but it’s ok there’s no Grizzlies up here apparently. Mikes gone fishing tonight – he’s got bells on his wrist and a big pepper spray…..

It’s going to be a long month of nights – and a lot of jet lag when I eventually get home (actually it wasn't so bad as the nightshift offset the hours a little) – it may well be late autumn as well. Over in British Columbia in Canada the weather is still warm, and they have a lot of forest fires up in the hills. I’m in the hills and in the middle of a forest, but it rained today so we are OK. No bears coming out of the trees yet, and I’m waiting for a nice clear morning so I can get a picture of the hills. Just settling in to life in the camp and nightshift here in the woods of BC. There are some big wild fires to the south of the area, well away from the rig, but there is an unmistakeable whiff of smoke in the air. It’s going to stop me getting any clear shots of the mountains and the sunset is very red – a sure sign of poor air quality. As I was driving back to the camp this morning a scruffy fox scuttled across the road. Later I was told that a grizzly had been spotted just a few km from the camp down by one of the creeks that the dirt road passes by. I’m hoping to see a bunch more of the wildlife over the next month, but not too close or face to face. The guys here have been regaling me with bear stories and it turns out that the Black Bears are the ones to watch out for. They have been known to haunt the rigsite by the garbage bins looking for an easy snack….my truck is parked next to the garbage container….I try not to go out there when the dark comes in.

Well I would go shopping but the nearest town at Tumbler Ridge is over 2 hours away – I’ve run out of chocolate after 12 days here, and now I’m on dry biscuits. Mind you I could do with losing a few pounds, if not a stone or two. After a couple of weeks there's nothing much to report – drilling away for gas as per schedule. It’s been raining and I’ve still not seen a bear yet. But…there have been reports of them crossing over the lease roads. My Canadian colleagues have been regalling me with tales of how dangerous the wildlife is around here – if I believed everything they said I wouldn’t go out of the camp. There’s Cougars, Mountain Lions, Grizzlies, Black Bears, Timber Wolves, Wolverines, Elk, Caribou, Moose and several other things I’ve never heard of. I feel like I’m living in an I-spy animal book – except my book doesn’t have many ticks in it yet. I’ve seen a Timber Wolf from a distance, and yesterday a big Caribou crossed the track in front of my truck. I’ve also seen some small furry things shuffling around the rigsite, but they aren’t rats thankfully. When I go for a drive and a tiny walk in the morning, I leave the door of the truck open and don’t venture too far – I’m going to take a picture of some of the prints I saw the other day – whatever it is, uses the place for a path. The trees here grow densely, as does the undergrowth – no chance of climbing up a tree to escape a bear as the thing would just bend over sideways and snap. Easy work if your a lumberjack though….

Every Saturday on the rig is a steak day. So I’m counting down the steaks – tomorrow will be three, and I may be here for another three yet? Not much happening lately, and the wildlife still is very shy….or is it lurking in the scrub? I’ve been told there’s 160,000 black bears in British Columbia – they can’t all be hiding!

Boy has it been gloomy lately. We are 4,600ft up in the foothills of the Rockies and for the past few nights it’s been really misty, almost like fog. The dirt roads are getting slick and rutted, very muddy and speed is down to a minimum to stay on track. A couple of trucks have slid off the site road further down the ‘Ojay main’ but were pulled out by some monster tractor type thing. To pass the time next week I’m going to start to plan for next years long walks – so far the choice is The Cumbria Way for a warm up, The Lakeland Haute route, and one of The Cotswold Way or the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.

Finally my leaving date has been fixed and I’ve been released for good behaviour. London Buses you may ask? Well bears are just like them, you wait ages for one and then two come along at once. We had a day out yesterday to Grand Prarie in Northern Alberta and someone else was driving – we slid off the dirt road as well! It was a bit like an I-spy book for a while – we saw the biggest bear that the local guy has ever seen – no photos to confirm this fact though. He took one look at us and went for a sh!t in the woods – I think that’s what bears do. We also saw Grey Wolves, though these were black, and a bunch of foxes. Also a Moose – it was very still and having a kip – it may have been run over. Back at the rig I heard that things had been delayed so decided to cut loose and let someone else do a bit of graft. After packing up and saying my goodbyes at the camp – Karly the campy gave me a list of places to visit down in Jasper. Bless her and thank you if you read this – she’s almost Royalty is Karly – she once had a good old chin wag with Princess Di – apparently Charlie was pissed. I then drove out on the dirt roads – a white knuckle ride if you’re not used to it – which I’m not. It’s basically earth and when it’s wet and greasy, it’s not nice. On the plus side Canada is such a huge place that driving is very easy – no traffic jams out here. I then continued in a leisurely fashion down to Grande Cache – a tiny town in the foothills of the rockies – they have a lot of coal around here. The autumn colours are superb. A few beers and a plate of pasta later I was fast asleep. zzzzzzz, and so ended my working time in Canada, but not before a few days sojourn, some R&R as they say.


“Photobucket”there's no business like snow business - the day after I left

“Photobucket”many of the dirt roads have rigsites to the side

“Photobucket”one of the bridge crossings - I had a nice walk along the riverbank here

“Photobucket”two trucks fit side by side here, but not much overtaking - 80km to the rig


it looks neat enough when it's not rained - Jomax#5 rig drilling for Devon


a bit of night time glitz


and some daytime fog

“Photobucket”miles to drive on this everyday for a month or so

“Photobucket”but some of it was ok when the sun shone

“Photobucket”we were in the foothills of the rockies


evening sunlight lights up the rig

“Photobucket”good cloud inversion weather

“Photobucket”misty down in the valleys

“Photobucket”looking over to the foothills

“Photobucket”looking forward to a walk when work finishes

“Photobucket”on the road out of the rig - 3hrs to town

“Photobucket”the track didn't get any better


This was meant to be a picture of a black bear at night - I like the result though

Where now:                                                Home        :        Other Walks Menu        :        Hells Gate Grand Cache >>