Shirt or sweater? shorts or jeans?
June 12, 2011
As I write this it’s a very cool 18 Celsius in Forfar. On Graham Island, halfway up the British Columbia coast, it’s 13 and raining. In Abbotsford on the Fraser River, it’s 21.
My problem seems trivial to everyone I ask, but it’s important to me: what clothes will I need to be comfortable while out of doors in British Columbia next week? The trip involves a day of sturgeon fishing on the Fraser River, and the rest of the week will entail a series of day expeditions in a small boat trolling for salmon in the Haida Gwaii, the official name for the Queen Charlotte Islands.
In a conversation this spring, local attorney Allison Crowe explained that when her father went salmon fishing in that area, his Tilley hat was coveted by everyone as protection from the glaring sun. Based upon my reading of weather reports for the northern coast of B.C., mentioning that glaring sun seems rather like my mentioning to visitors the tornadoes that hit the Little Rideau each year on the first night after our boat cleared the lock at the Narrows, three years in a row. Those three freak tornadoes in May or June of ’82, ’83 and ’84 do not make Rideau Lakes Township another tornado alley, though it seemed that way at the time. Similarly, I think it would be unwise to expect a lot of sunlight on the water off Graham Island.
But the guy I asked at Princess Auto told me that when he was up there fishing in early July a couple of years ago, they wore T-shirts.
Mindful of my teenage experience as a box boy at Genge’s Red and White where I actually saw skis and snowshoes in the trunks of New Jersey cars coming for summer vacation, I looked for better evidence. The Queen Charlotte Lodge, our destination, maintains a dated online gallery.
June 19th photos have the captors of large salmon arrayed in flannel shirts under sweatshirts, tucked into waterproof overalls. One Japanese man of about my age showed long underwear at the neck, as well. From the photo archive it looks pretty cold there in early summer if you are out on the ocean.
Apart from my utter lack of experience at packing, the catch is the 25 lb. limit on luggage for the helicopter ride to the resort. Resort management explains in the information package that they provide lockers at the airport for guest’s surplus belongings, but: “We will help you repack your luggage until the weight is down to under 25 lb.” The document further asks for my sizes for outer garments and boots which they will assign from their stores at the lodge.
My host Tony doesn’t want to be bothered with questions about clothing. But he’s a Scotsman, one of a line of sturdy men and women famed for their tolerance for lousy weather. Tony ignores my pleas to buy a winter snowmobile suit and tries to ice fish in light ski attire. Then he complains, “Your Ranger is too damned cold. It needs a cab and a windshield.”
I’ve explained to him until I’m blue in the face that, unlike his life in various air conditioned rooms and vehicles, Bet and I spend most of our time outside. The coat rack for our activities covers a ten-foot wall. Neither Bet nor I would consider facing the day without at least three sets of outdoor footwear with which to match climatic conditions. There are even four pairs of rubber boots inside the front door for guests.
Do you see my problem? I need it all, but I can’t take a coat rack on a 737. Do I pack shorts or jeans? t-shirts or sweaters? Do I take along the large waterproof parka Bet and Charlie bought me or leave it and pack my laptop? (No. I’m taking the laptop.)
In two weeks I will know a lot more about this subject. More likely by then I also will find it too trivial to mention. But for the moment it fills my mind.