Fast Water part 2

Yesterday, I shared the first part of my weekend hike along the Cowichan River near Skutz Falls. Today’s photo journal entry focuses on building and using stretchers in the wilderness. I hope you enjoy this creative adventure that is also an applied survival skill.

First, let’s take a look up river. While I am taking this photo one of the coaches is explaining that next term if the students choose they will jump in up river (with life jackets and helmets of course) and be rescued just below the bridge we are standing on at the moment. They don’t have to go in but it is a prerequisite for learning to whitewater kayak.

The senior students met us at the bridge and lead us back down the river on the north side to where they had made stretchers by cutting poles and stringing them with coats, backpacks and one with a tarp. There was also stretcher made with webbed rope made and a foam sheet used in kayaking – this showed what could be used when sea kayaking and poles may not be readily available.

Everyone formed teams and the senior students lead the groups through a series of off trail maneuvers as directed by the coaches.

Down the trail they come…

Stopping to check on how the patient is doing (a very vulnerable ride)

It’s getting dark and I have to use my flash as they go through the brush…

And on the home stretch(er)

Creativity is related to much more than the arts. Creativity is the product of our ability to imagine. Our imagination allows us to find connections and ways of doing things that we have never seen or experienced before. I can tell by the smiles of these students, as they take on what is actually a difficult task to carry someone through the brush on a homemade stretcher, they are creative beings and loving it – lucky them and lucky us. I feel very privileged to have been able to share their company for this one afternoon on the Cowichan River.

Sprout Question: Have you ever had to use your creativity to save your life or save someone else?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

Fast Water part 1

Over the weekend I had the most extraordinary opportunity. I was invited to go with a group of 13 to 18 year old students and two coaches for an outdoor pursuit hike along the Cowichan River near Skutz falls on Vancouver Island. These students are amazing and I absolutely enjoyed the pleasure of their company and the opportunity to be their guest.

The Cowichan River is fast and high this time of year.

There is little time to capture its beauty because I am keeping pace with these young bodies as they leap and skip along up the south side of the trail heading west. They are quiet, talking softly in small groups as they walk single file with the river glimpsed through the trees and over the steep edge of the narrow trail. I sense a relaxed intrigue rather than boisterous, frenetic, silliness I might have anticipated. For some, this is their first semester of outdoor pursuits. They may have spent very little time before today walking on the earth’s soft uneven surface. Through the soft steady rain, low cloud coverage and mist we walk together – as if we have been doing it for years.

A smaller group of older students had separated from us before we crossed the first bridge and gone up the north side trail to practice making stretchers. They will lead teams in stretcher exercises when we meet up with them later on our return. I will cover this in more detail tomorrow.

There are protected groves of Gary Oak in the park where we are hiking. My daughter, Ms. Herman, is one of the two coaches. She waits while I grab a couple of quick photos (with no idea that the camera is pointed in her direction).

We move swiftly to catch up to the rest who are gathered for a lesson on the river bank.

I snap a couple of river shots and totally miss what this particular lesson was about. Sorry Mr. Norman.

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Next I see a series of switchbacks in front of us. A hill – this is where the 15 year olds are separated from the 51 year olds. I am thrilled to reach the top still being able to talk and not having had to stop and rest part way up. The view was worth it.

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It is a perfect spot to give a quick lesson on using a compass. The students learn how to gather all the information they already know and begin to locate themselves on a map and learn how to read and set a compass direction.

We continue on. The strength of the trees as they withstand the water flowing around them is amazing.

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Tomorrow, more about how stretchers are can be made from coats, backpacks and tarp as creativity is applied to survival skills.

Sprout Question: When was the last time you got fired up, along with a group of teenagers, on a creative adventure?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.