It’s weird walking around without glasses. I instinctively try to grab the sides of them and raise them to the bridge of my nose, as if my slightly blurry vision will be fixed by it.
How did I lose my glasses, you ask? Funny story, that. It all started with a desire to share a fond childhood memory with my little brother Adamm.
See, Wyatt and I used to hike along the Oshawa Creek a lot as kids. For as long as I can remember, we went there every summer – at first, the car bridge on Taunton was our end destination, but every year we got braver and braver and travelled further and further north. They were great times, and I wanted to recreate that with Adamm, since he’s at about the same age as we were when we started taking these adventures.
Things started off well, I was excited about the possibilities and dressed like a jungle explorer to fit the part. Dad walked as far as Sommerset Park and headed back.
Once we had started I stopped Adamm and asked him what mistake I had made with my attire. I pointed out that I had on shorts and a short sleeved shirt, and that chances were by the end of the trek I might have scratches on my arms and legs from any sections where we might be roughing it. But I was fine with that. A few scratches never hurt anyone.
We advanced a bit further and I asked him what kind of adventure gear he was carrying. He said he only had a bottle of water and Gatorade with him. Well, that wouldn’t do, so I presented him with some stuff I picked up at Canadian Tire for him – a tiny adjustable flashlight, some nylon rope, a mini first aid kit, and a Swiss army knife (Adamm already had a Leatherman at home, so I knew it was an okay gift to give). Soon we came across a dead branch, which I fashioned into a walking stick for him.
We continued on, sometimes hiking in the forest, sometimes along the creek edge, until we hit one of the first locations Wyatt and I was amazed by as kids.
The Cliff of a Thousand Nightmares.
Okay, as an adult, the cliff ain’t that big, but for me and Wyatt back then it was awe inspiring. Bigger than anything we’d come across in our lives before. And one of our first childhood victories was to conquer it.
So Adamm and I climbed up it as well. We took off our shoes and socks and waded across the creek first, which was cold but felt good. We actually started wading for a while, watching a fisherman trying to land a fish.
We were impressed by how big it was when we saw it leap out of the water. Far bigger than I expected any creek fish to be. Then we put on our socks and shoes and began our ascent. Some patches were wet, muddy and slippery, but in the end we both made it to the top, and could see the forest stretch out seemingly forever in all directions. And from there we saw that there wasn’t just one fish in that part of the creek, but over a dozen, all of them as big as my arm.
Shortly after that I found another stick and stripped it down into a suitable walking stick for myself, then etched our initials into both of them. This was all the kind of stuff Wyatt and I enjoyed doing back in the day. I was sending Wyatt regular pictures along the way, and he was quite envious of the fun we had. Adamm was loving it too.
And then we came across the bees.
Sigh… I think you can guess where this is going.
It was I who stumbled across the bees (wasps, actually, but we didn’t figure that out until much later). We had found a wide shallow part of the creek and had wanted to repeat the relaxing experience we’d had back at the cliff with the fisherman. So I found a low lying plateau near the water and hopped down. Adamm was right behind me.
Then I noticed a bug fly in front of me. I absently swatted it away. Then it got underneath my glasses, and then I felt a burning sensation above my eye.
“AUGH! I think something stung me!” I batted at it, knocking my glasses away. I saw more blackish blurs flying around as I looked for my glasses to pick up, thinking it was a one-off experience.
“BEES!” Adamm yelled. “You’re surrounded by bees!”
This did not compute. I’ve been up and down the Oshawa Creek a thousand times and never once encountered a bee nest. But soon it dawned on me that I was burning in other places now and the bees were all over me. I realized with horror what was happening.
“AUGH! One of them got me!” Adamm cried out.
“Run! Back the way we came!” Staff in hand I ran like Gandalf leading the Fellowship out of Moria, fleeing the Balrog. Only we soon found out that we had run off the trail, and the bees were still following us. I opened up my shirt and one flew right out, having stung me a couple of times on my chest.
“This way!” I yelled, leading Adamm further away and hoping the evil little buggers would give up their chase. In time we found the path again and took a break. The first aid kit came in handy as I used the alcohol rubs to clean the only serious injury Adamm suffered, a single sting to the ear. He got very minor stings to his ankles, but the added layers he had in socks and pants seemed to have negated most of that.
Remember what I said to Adamm about my shorts and short sleeve shirt being a mistake? Yeah, frickin BEES were not on my list of concerns when I said that, but all too valid in this circumstance. Adamm’s clothing protected him well, thankfully, and the ear was the only sting that stood out for him.
I, on the other hand, ended up with at least four stings on my legs, two on my left arm, one on my right (which swelled up as big as a golf ball for a while), a few on my chest under my shirt, one under my arm pit, and one on my eye.
We escaped the bees but we agreed that we were done for the day. We hiked back to civilization on the wrong side of the creek, high up along the bluffs where the fence to the Oshawa airport is. In time we found streets again and knew it wouldn’t be long before we found our way to Rossland, which would lead us back home. My glasses were a loss. I probably got stung a half dozen times more because I had stuck around to try and get them.
No doubt they are now mounted over their nest as a trophy, and a warning to others.
The incident left Adamm gun-shy of every flying bug we saw. Most of the time they were something different, ladybug, grasshopper, whatever, but at one point a bee appeared in front of us. I raised my staff and yelled at it as it flew away.
“EFF YOU, BEE!”
A few seconds later, I noticed Adamm looked both amused and horrified. He broke out laughing, but I didn’t understand why.
It turned out that as we were walking along these streets, a nice old grandmotherly lady was sitting out on the porch with her daughter, and had just waved at us pleasantly. This was at the exact moment I had waved my stick in her direction yelling “EFF YOU, BEE!”
Yeah, picture that from her perspective for a bit.
Adamm and I couldn’t even move for a while, we were laughing so hard. This was around the time that we realized it wasn’t bees that had stung us but wasps. Not that it made much of a difference.
It was a terrible end to what had started as a great day. Thank God neither of us was allergic to wasp stings. In fact, we were both kind of surprised as to how little they hurt after the first few minutes. They felt more like really aggravated mosquito bites from mosquitoes on steroids. We’d both been lead to believe by Hollywood that they’d hurt a lot more and swell up more, even if we weren’t allergic. By all rights, my face should have looked like Quasimodo before we left the forest, but even now, hours later, it just feels slightly stingy/burny.
While it was a disastrous end to the day, at the same time it was a rather cool one as well. Adamm handled himself like a pro, cool under fire, and made it home like a trooper.
I just hope this incident doesn’t sour him to the whole hiking the creek experience!
(Some other pics of Adamm during our hike… before it became a retreat)