ESEE Tube: B.C. Edition - "The (almost) Last One"

Discussion in 'Adventure, Hiking, Backpacking and Travel' started by Benson X, Sep 24, 2016.

  1. Benson X

    Benson X Member

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    BACKSTORY
    (I was going to grab info. from the "old" forum, but that is now gone - so I may not remember or have all the details)

    This ESEE Buried Treasure was planted on August 27th, 2013 by a friend of @McKROB in Strathcona Provincial Park, B.C. while he was en route to summit the Golden Hinde. As far as I know, this was the last remaining tube in the field, but there may still be one more somewhere in Romania that was planted by @Expat - you'd have to PM him to confirm the details.

    There were only 2 members I know of that had attempted to retrieve the BC Tube. @Mar (Mario) did 2 trips up there - but was still unsuccessful after losing the trail on the last run. He definitely made a worthy effort to get up there, and after completing the route, I can assuredly say that it is no joke; the Arnica Lake trail is very difficult and strenuous for anyone to conquer - let alone twice! At least he returned back safely and intact :)

    Shortly after joining the ESEE forum, I found the ESEE Buried Treasure sub-forum and thought it was a great idea to promote the brand/company but also make it a challenge for those seeking to retrieve the treasure. I REALLY wanted to get the BC Tube; it had been up there for almost 3 years, it was somewhat close to me, plus, it was planted on my birthday (8/27) - so it added a bit of a personal reason to get up there.

    I did my research, checked my gear, got my credentials in order and booked a round-trip ferry from Port Angeles, WA to Victoria, B.C. This is the Trip Report from my "ESEE Buried Treasure Adventure" :cool:

    DAY ONE - 9/16/2016

    After an anxious night of packing, plotting and stripping my truck of anything of value, I woke up at eagerly around 4:00 am. I took a quick shower and did a final gear check before leaving Olympia around 5:00. It took about 2.5 hours to get to the Port Angeles ferry terminal. The ferry left at 8:00 and traveled another 90 minutes until reaching Victoria, B.C.

    Goin through customs, the CBP decided to pick my truck for a "random inspection," which further delayed me another hour before clearing me for entry into Canada. Add another 4.5 hour drive on top of that to the trail head.

    I finally arrived to the Phillips Ridge trail head around 4:00 pm, and it had already started to rain. At this point, I had been sitting, driving, and feeding on beef jerky, Landjaeger, granola bars, water and coffee for almost 12 hours, and I was finally ready to embark on this crazy adventure! :eek:


    At around 4:30, I grabbed my heavy-ass pack (62 lbs.) and gave everything a once-over before locking up my truck. A quick walk up the road to the trail head and I see the "Phillips Ridge Trail" sign with a list of guidelines to adhere to while in the park. Someone had also etched into the sign "76 switchback to Lake Arnica" - and I thought "That is a lot of ******* switchbacks!"

    For the most part, the trail was not well maintained and severely deteriorated in some sections. Massive windfall damage and fallen trees littered the steep hillside as I ascended higher and higher. I could still hear the drone and clang of the Westmin mine below, which seemed alien while hiking solo in such a remote area. I came across a nice creek that was marked by an old wooden sign - "Water". I stopped for quick break and some pictures of the creek before continuing on.

    After about 2.5 hours of constant incline, the rain had started getting heavier and the daylight was quickly fading on the densely wooded hillside. My legs were already feeling like rubber and the thought of setting up camp for the night sounded better and better by the minute. With no fires allowed anywhere within Stratchona - I really did not want to get too wet or cold. I tried to find the most suitable area to pitch my tent for the night, which in itself took some time, due to the steep terrain and surrounding deadfall.

    After finding a "good enough" spot, I set up camp and boiled up some Lasagna-in-a-bag before crawling into my bag for the night.

     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2018
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  2. Benson X

    Benson X Member

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    DAY TWO - 9/17/2016

    With the rain pelting my tent as my soundtrack through the night, I slept fairly well, all things considered. I finally got up around 6:00 am and started my day with a nice cup of French-press coffee and Biscuits 'n Gravy (in a bag, of course) which was actually pretty damn tasty; I have to say that Mountain Home does a decent job with their bag meals.

    I packed up my gear and did some much needed stretching before hitting the last gauntlet of switchbacks. It felt like the (now) wet gear had added another 10 lbs. to my pack, and I quickly fell back into the hypnotic stomp of dread as I clambered even higher. After about 2km of hiking, I came across another marked watering hole, and decided to take a break for some water and more pictures.

    After putting down my pack, I instinctively did the "5 pocket pat down" on myself and my pack - and then realized "****! I don't have my knife!" (my ESEE6s w/ Izula and FireRod setup). I checked the side pockets, straps, belt etc. and could not find it anywhere. Of course, this quickly soured my mood as I started recalling where (and how) it could've come loose or fallen off my pack. I made the decision to back-track and find it - there was no way I was coming up here on an ESEE "mission" and lose my favorite ESEE setup! :mad:

    I stashed my pack, and started heading back down the switchbacks. I remembered 3 different trees that were downed over the trail, and too large to easily go over - so I had to crawl under them with my pack. I knew for sure it must've fallen off near one of those trees. After booking it further and further down, scanning the trail, coming up empty and getting more frustrated, I had finally ended up all the way back at my camp from the night before. Not good. I tried to calm myself down and think logically - "I had it at camp this morning, now I don't. It's not on the trail anywhere. Where the hell is it!?" Then it hit me - the DucksBack on my pack was cinched-up tightly around the whole thing (in order to keep my gear dry). It had to have fallen down to the bottom and underneath my pack...that was the only logical explanation.

    After making my way back UP the switchbacks, I had finally reached my pack and immediately shoved my hand underneath the DucksBack - there was my damn knife! JEEEEZUS CHRIST!!! I felt like a Grade-A Asshole for sure. My little "freakout" wasted about 2 hours and added 4km to my distance. Well, now it's time for lunch - beef jerky and a Clif bar helped me calm down before the last stretch to Arnica Lake.

    I pushed on and felt relieved as I reached the 1000m elevation mark - I knew the lake was getting close and the trail was starting to even out. After just a few more km, I had finally reached Arnica Lake! I took some time to explore the south end of the lake a bit, checked-out Arnica Creek and just enjoyed being on flat ground again! I then made my way around the lake to the north end where the designated "Camp Area" was. I found a great flat grassy area right next to the lake and decided to bed down here for the night. There was a crystal-clear creek feeding into the lake about 50m from my tent where I refilled my water before getting dinner going (Beef Stroganoff).

    I knew tomorrow was the "big push" across the ridgeline - and would ultimately determine if this trip would be a success or not. After giving it some thought, I decided that I would leave the majority of my gear at camp and only take the top pocket of my pack (it converts into a fancy fanny-pack thing ;)) packed with just the essentials in it. In hindsight, this would prove to be a good choice on my part - as I doubt I could have finished the route with all the extra weight. I tried to go to sleep early, but I was excited and anxious for the day ahead and eventually dozed off as the rain started in again.


     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2016
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  3. Benson X

    Benson X Member

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    DAY THREE - 9/18/2016

    I woke up early, around 6:30. No rain, fog skirting slowly off the lake, some patches of blue sky and the sun trying to peak up through the trees. This picturesque scene - coupled with my coffee in hand - made it seem like damn Folgers commercial straight outta the 80's. It was going to be a good day.

    I grabbed my essential gear and stuffed it into my extra-large, extra-tacticool fannypack. I wrote down my info. on some pink trail-tape and affixed it to my tent (7:30 am, 9/18 -Went to Phillips Ridge, be back before 7:30 pm) just in case someone were to wander into camp and get curious; though I hadn't seen a soul all weekend since stepping foot on the trails. I embarked on what was to be the last leg of my trip.

    There was a sign marking the start of the Phillips Ridge Trail (route only) (whatever that means) leading northwest from the camp. I followed the narrow rocky trail and began making my way slightly higher, through more trees and dense underbrush. There were tons of ponds and pools surrounding Arnica Lake - which I soon found would be the trend across almost the entirety of Phillips Ridge. What I thought would finally be a clear and sunny day quickly turned a familiar grey and wet as I continued my trek up to the ridge.

    As I started to get high enough, the surrounding geology changed quickly: sparse trees, creeping mosses and lichen, extruding rock formations and pools of rainwater and snowmelt provided the backdrop as I meandered across the ridge. The trail was almost non-existent in some sections, but there were numerous rock cairns to indicate where you should be headed - along with the periodic GPS check.

    After about 3.5 hours of hiking over rocks and through small patches of fir and hemlock trees - I had finally come within the last 500m of the tube. As if it were a scene from a movie (think Monty Python and the Holy Grail) - I came around the last curve of the hillside adjacent to the peak of Phillips Ridge. The cloud cover was blown away by the wind just enough for me to see it -- a single rock formation that stuck out from all the others, standing higher and more pronounced. "That HAS to be it" I thought to myself, and I made a straight line right for it - climbing over piles of rocks until I stood at the foot of the cracked boulder. I could see a pile of rocks stuffed in the crevice and hastily began removing them to see that beautiful orange tube. Nothing....no tube. Just rocks.

    I checked my GPS, and was definitely at the right location, but alas there was no tube. Time for another "eureka" moment as I thought to walk around to the back-side of the rock. I saw the crack ran through on both sides. Lo and behold, another small pile of rocks within the fissure. I lifted the first rock and immediately got an ear-to-ear smile as I saw the distinct safety orange color peeking out at me. I snapped a picture of the tube in its hiding place before removing it.

    I held it high and took some ridiculous selfies before attempting to open it up. @McKROB must've used some experimental 3M epoxy or something, because that tube was not coming open. I grabbed my trusty Izula but I should have known better; Cold, wet hands + wet, round tube + anxious excitement + sharp Izzy = bad combination. A nice gash across tip of my middle finger quickly turned my focus from "get the tube open" to "damn, that is a lot of blood!" - luckily I had brought my small first aid kit and was able to quickly seal it up and stop the bleeding. I made the executive decision to wait to open it until later.

    Since it was now lunchtime (12:30) I chowed some Landjaeger and a Snickers bar for dessert before doing the math/calculations on how to proceed with my route. I could make it back to camp around 3:30, pack up, and make it back to the truck by around 7:30. Then I could drive back to Victoria and maybe grab an earlier ferry back and get home sooner than originally planned!

    I started to make my way back down the ridgeline towards Arnica Lake, and making pretty good time! I was taking more pictures as I went, and came across more hidden cairns/trail markers. I actually found another geo-cache within one cairn. It is the Tennent Lake Lookout cache: a freezer bag with a pill bottle inside. Contained within the bottle was a small section of notepad, and a few small pencils. The earliest entry was from March, 2008 with the most recent being Sept. 2012. Most entries were simply a name or initials, date/time, and what route you were travelling. I chose to add my name and info. along with the very apt summary of my journey thus far - WET!!!

    I arrived back at camp at almost exactly 3:30 and proceeded to tear down camp. I found a very tiny tree frog (about the size of my finger nail) near my tent and paused to take pictures of my little camp friend. A few moments later, I heard one of the most unnatural guttural sounds come from the woods about .5 km west of my camp. I can only assume it was a wolf pack with a fresh kill, or even being attacked themselves, but I can only describe it as a dog being strangled with a splash of cat fight thrown in. It was enough to make me say "Yup! Good time to pack up camp!" o_O

    After getting my backpack in order, and thinking how much heavier it was (all my gear was soaked by this point), I readied myself for the long descent down to the truck. I walked around the edge of the lake to relish in the peaceful solitude one last time - then I saw a black bear across the lake. He was at least .5/.75km away - but I could see him huddled near the edge of the lake on the hillside (probably watching me, too). I yelled "BaBaBooey!!!" in his direction, to which he simple turned around and slowly lumbered up the hill before disappearing into the tree line. This, too, reaffirmed that my decision to leave camp a night early was probably a good one.

    I'm not gonna lie - the trip back down was punishing. I was soaked to the bone and only had one pair of dry socks/underwear left. My pack was starting to dig-in and create some uncomfortable hotspots, but I didn't want to stop and waste time readjusting it. The rain continued coming down and I could feel the temperature starting to drop lower than it had the previous nights. I just kept moving as quickly as I could safely, until I could finally see the service road through the trees. It was about 7:30 pm when I finally reached the road and made it back within view of my truck - I felt so damn relieved and accomplished, but above all, I was wet, cold and hungry! :confused:

    I dug out my keys, threw my gear in the truck and started the drive back to Campbell River (~1 hour). I stopped at the first gas station I saw and asked if there was a clothing store or anywhere to get clothes this late on a Sunday...of course I should have expected Wal-Mart to be the only option. I drove on down the road to the Wal-Mart there, yup, and bought myself thee finest wardrobe that $20 USD can fetch these days. I stripped down in the parking lot and changed into a completely dry outfit, complete with cozy slippers - MY GOD!!! What a relief that was.

    I was still riding high from the adventure of the day, but I was starving so I drove around until I found a restaurant that was open: Moxies Bar & Grill. I ordered a honey garlic sirloin and a Hoyne Dark Matter lager, and had myself one of the finest meals that I will definitely remember for life. Sure, the steak was great and the beer was delicious - but it was the culmination of how I came to be there that made me savor every sip and every bite.

    After I felt human again - I began the long drive back to Victoria and pondered getting a hotel somewhere or just sleep in the Taco. After hours of driving, I finally got back to Victoria around 1:00 am. I pulled into a Denny's parking lot to camp in my truck for the night. While I was trying to get to sleep, my brain wouldn't turn off, so I decided open the ESEE Tube using the saw on my LM Wave. I figured after my run-in with CBP on the way up, it would better to have it open and the contents exposed than risk it being confiscated entirely and return home empty-handed. I sat in my truck, at almost 3:00 am reading the awesome "Congratulations" letter, fondling the beautiful shiny ESEE stickers and fantasizing about wielding the mighty Junglas that may soon be in my hands. It was hard to go to sleep, but somehow I dozed off for a few hours.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2016
  4. Benson X

    Benson X Member

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    DAY FOUR - 9/19/16

    Not much to explain on this day - I woke up around 5:00, and went into Denny's for a healthy dose of heartburn and bad coffee. I leeched their Wi-Fi and listened to the dreaded ding of work emails and the "back-to-reality" notifications start to funnel in. Around 7:00, I headed towards the ferry terminal to see about getting an earlier ferry back, since I had reserved the latest 7:30 pm return. There was a 10:30 ferry that was full with reservations and a 3:00 that was also fully booked. My only option was to sit at the ferry terminal and wait to see how many cars they can fit, and if I would be one of them.

    I missed the 10:30 by literally one car (the stand-by car in front of me was the last one), so that meant another 4+ hours in Victoria. I parked my truck, and walked around town for a bit before grabbing a beer and some delicious Poutine for lunch. Shortly after, the 'itis' set in, and I took a nap in my truck while I waited for the next ferry.

    After making the 3:00 ferry, I was back in Washington at exactly 5:00, with a quick 2.5 hour drive back to my house. I stopped to fill up on gas and grab some go-juice before heading back to Olympia.

    I finally got home around 8:00 pm, to be greeted by my beautiful girlfriend and excited little dogs. After a quick dinner, some vicarious revelry and animated storytelling, I took a long hot shower, then soaked in hot bath mixed with a cocktail of natural oils and other hippy ****. It didn't take me long to pass out afterwards.


    SUMMARY

    All in all, this was an amazing adventure for me. It was a true test of my mettle - not knowing the area at all, and being somewhat out of my element (no firearms, no fires, isolated/remote) but I felt a great deal of pride and accomplishment being able to complete it. The "prize" itself is a nice material addition - but the sentimental attachment and memory of this experience will forever be imbued within the steel of that blade, something like that cannot be purchased.

    I would like to say thanks to @Jeff Randall, Mike, Wendy and the whole RAT/ESEE crew for sponsoring this event. It was really cool of you guys to do something like this. If you ever want to do it again - count me in and I would love to assist with hiding and/or retrieving more tubes! :D

    Also, big thanks to @McKROB for hiding this tube in such a badass and difficult spot....and for making sure it was REALLY protected from the elements...that PVC epoxy or whatever **** you used is intense!!!

    And of course @Mar for your persistence and tenacity to get the BC tube. Your posts and feedback were most helpful and informative when I was first reading about this Tube - I still can't believe you went up (and down) those switchbacks two times! Crazy man! :eek:
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2016
  5. Benson X

    Benson X Member

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    Last edited: Jun 21, 2018
  6. jlowrance

    jlowrance Member

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    Awesome pics, sounds like a trip you won't forget.
     
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  7. McKROB

    McKROB Member

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    Awesome trip report write-up. I'm in a jungle camp in the middle of Suriname at the moment and the connection I have won't let me view photos or videos so it'll have to wait a few days. Glad you made it there and back in one piece!
     
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  8. Trailmaster

    Trailmaster Member

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    Sounds like a great adventure
     
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  9. Joelski

    Joelski Member

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    Awesome victory! Fun read and great pics as well. grats!
     
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  10. Bushman5

    Bushman5 Member

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    Best adventure yet. Congrats man.
     
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  11. Benson X

    Benson X Member

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    Thanks for taking the time to read and reply, guys! I hope you enjoyed my ramblings, it was definitely an unforgettable trip for me.
     
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  12. ThreeRidges

    ThreeRidges Member

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    Congratulations, great trip report
     
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  13. Adventurer

    Adventurer Member

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    Congrats! Thanks for sharing the experience!
     
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  14. Expat

    Expat Expat™ Knives Staff Member

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    Great job!

    As far as I know, the Romanian one is gone. The forum member looked exactly where it was hidden and reported it wasn't there. So, someone else must've found it and never followed the instructions.

    The one on a hill in Panama is still there, I'm sure. It's so remote, no one would ever stumble on it.

    Maybe I'll resurrect something like this with the cleaver when it comes out.
     
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  15. Baldcutnut

    Baldcutnut Member

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    Great write up and adventure
    Congratulation
     
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  16. Reno Lewis

    Reno Lewis Knot-A-Challenge Champion

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    Awesome write up! Right out my back door, but I've never been able to make the trip. Congrats!
     
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  17. Hawkeye5

    Hawkeye5 Member

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    Good for you man. Glad you got it. I don't like Denny's coffee either!
     
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  18. Delkancott

    Delkancott Member

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    Great write up. Thank you for posting, and congrats!
     
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  19. Benson X

    Benson X Member

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    Thanks again for all the feedback and support y'all - this is a great community to promote the spirit of adventure!!! :)

    Thank you Expat - that's unfortunate about the Romania tube - but it looks like I'll be heading to Panama next ;)

    I am 75% serious though, if you still have the coordinates/details of the Panama tube - would you please PM them to me? I will put it on my bucket-list and maybe end up down there someday. I will need to break-in the Junglas soon :D

    If you do a "Scavenger Hunt" or "Buried Treasure" for your badass cleaver (and other wares, once available) - I would be more thank happy to assist in any capacity, keep me in mind and let me know if/when you need help.
     
  20. R Stowe

    R Stowe Moderator Staff Member

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    Excellent write up and thanks for sharing. That was one hell of an adventure.
     
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