(Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Safety in the woods: Could you get yourself out of a jam?

By Jim Hilton

It started out innocently enough, a quick trip on my Honda trail bike to inspect some knapweed spraying done on Crown land adjacent to my property but there I was face down on the ground my right boot lace snagged on a tree branch with my bike pinning my leg to a downed tree.

No matter how I struggled my leg was trapped and now gas from my bike was leaking onto my leg. With two hours of daylight left and being at least a kilometre from the nearest habitation, I was on my own.

If I had been with a partner as we are cautioned to do it would have been easy for someone to help get the bike off my foot but as it was I was barely able to reach my front tire with my left hand and could not apply any force to move my bike. It had happened so quickly as I was passing through a narrow part of a cow path that had a section of a downed tree cut out.

I had put my right foot down to stabilize myself and my boot lace caught on the short tree branch causing me to fall forward and tip the bike onto my leg.

Fortunately my left leg was free and after some wiggling I was able to turn onto my side and then my back so I could better see my predicament. With my left leg I was able to push my bike to relieve some of the pressure on my foot and with more squirming finally get my boot lace off the branch.

I was probably only trapped for a few minutes but it seemed like a lifetime as I was thinking of being there most of the night at the mercy of any passing predators. Had my left leg also been pinned or the bike a lot heavier my situation could have been much worse.

As most people would do I was going over the events that led up to this incident to see what I could have done differently so as not to repeat a similar accident.

Avoid lace boots while on two-wheeled bike for a start, along with leaving a more detailed plan with my wife as to where I was going and of course taking along one of the many emergency devices that are on the market.

Cell service is not usually very good on this part of the plateau but I also have a ham radio that works in the area, but unfortunately, it would not have helped because I usually keep it in my pack on the back carrier of my bike which I would not have been able to reach while I was pinned down.

There are some wonderful devices on the market for the outdoor enthusiasts but it is important to make sure they are where you can easily access them if you find yourself in a situation that I described above.

I was recently reviewing one of Spot’s latest devices which is a vast improvement over some of the first units that came out. Some of the emergency whistles also look promising and may also be useful for scaring predators but make sure all of these devices within easy reach, probably around your neck or in a front pocket.

Jim Hilton is a professional agrologist and forester who has lived and worked in the Cariboo Chilcotin for the past 40 years. Now retired, Hilton still volunteers his skills with local community forests organizations.