Tackling backcountry powder on his new snow bike created an unexpected adventure for Jordan Edgelow.
The 27-year-old Lavington resident was exploring Hunter’s Range, between Enderby and Sicamous, with friends Sunday when he got separated and wound up in a gully deep with snow.
“I thought I was familiar with the area but I was not aware of the drainage areas,” said Edgelow, who has considerable experience in the woods.
“We had found a new area and I thought it was awesome, we kept going down and coming back up. But I got into a spot where I couldn’t get out. It kept getting worse as I tried to find a way out.”
Still on his bike, the carpenter made his way along some treacherous terrain before he lost control of the bike and it became hooked on a stump hanging over a cliff. He tried to dig the bike out but it became covered in an avalanche.
Finally at 3 p.m., Edgelow decided to abandon the bike and head to an open clearing.
“I knew dark was coming and I wanted to get everything ready for dark,” he said.
Luckily, he had packed a shovel, a saw and lighters.
He first started a fire to keep warm and then he dug a hole in the snow and built a hut out of pine branches.
“It wasn’t the best, but I was making do with what I had,” he said.
As the evening rolled into early morning Monday, challenges existed — particularly the frigid temperatures, strong wind and a lack of food (he had a lone sandwich). Sleep was minimal as he tried to keep the fire going.
He was always confident that his friends had contacted Search and Rescue once he became separated, and he prepared to be found by piling up branches and saving his remaining six litres of gas for a smoke signal.
At 7 a.m. Monday, a helicopter circled near Mara Mountain.
“I threw everything on the fire and they saw it right away,” he said.
With the helicopter hovering overhead, a winch was lowered down and he was pulled up out of the clearing.
“It was awesome. I’m glad I’m not afraid of heights,” he said.
Edgelow was eventually checked over by medical personnel and he was given a clean bill of health.
And it was only once he was out of the bush, that he realized what went into trying to find him, including Vernon and Shuswap SAR crews tracking his trail overnight until conditions became too dangerous.
“I’m very thankful. I’m glad no one got hurt or lost looking for me,” he said.
“Hands down to them for all of their efforts — Search and Rescue, the chopper crew and my friends for doing the right thing.”
Edgelow will now try and recover his bike, and he’ll be heading back into the woods to enjoy the snow.
“If you fall off a horse, get back on,” he said.
However, Edgelow admits the experience has provided him some new insight, especially when in unfamiliar surroundings.
“Take your time and do a double take when heading into something,” he said.