Snow wheelers save elderly couple stuck in the backcountry

Suzanne Lepage is eternally grateful to the ‘snow wheelers’ who were up in the Belgo area on Mother’s Day.

Suzanne Lepage is eternally grateful to the ‘snow wheelers’ who were up in the Belgo area on Mother’s Day.

She and her husband, her 28-year-old son and their three dogs went for a Sunday drive into the Haddo and Grizzly Lake area to see how things were, in preparation for a Victoria Day weekend camping trip.

They took a little picnic and planned to enjoy a bit of fresh air and a day in the wild.

All that changed when they drove the truck around a corner and into a four-foot deep drift of snow.

“We were stuck. We climbed up on the snow at first, but then we sunk in,” she recalled.

When she got out to try and help dig the truck out, she found herself in snow up to her waist, with just shoes and socks on.

She got soaking wet and icy cold in minutes.

Luckily, when her husband managed to pull her back into the truck and she got her wet socks off, the dogs warmed her feet back up.

There was no cell phone service, but they had an amateur radio in the truck so when all their efforts to dig the truck out with their hands were to no avail they began trying to raise someone on the radio.

About 10 p.m., they finally got an answer on the radio from a the fellow who said he would come and get them.

The stuck truck was in the area of Haddo Lake, and it took about 45 minutes for him to reach them.

“He arrived in a big-wheeled truck that just floated on the snow and dragged us two miles out of the bush,” she related.

Lepage says she is on medication and needed to get back home, and her children and grandchildren were looking for them and worried.

“Without those guys in the big trucks we wouldn’t have made it back,” she said tearfully.

At 60 years of age, and with her 70-year-old husband, she says they could never have walked all the way out.

They’ve changed their plans for a weekend camping trip up there on the long weekend.

They also warn others that there’s a lot of snow up in the hills around the valley this year, so if you go out on the back roads, be prepared for it. It’s late melting and there’s lots of it.

Their rescuers were not the mudboggers who they ran into in the summer up at Grizzly Lake, where they were tearing up the margins of the lake, drinking and shooting off guns in the bush around them, says Lepage. “Those were really rowdy younger people. It was terrible,” she said.

On the other hand, she can never thank her Mother’s Day rescuers enough.



Kelowna Capital News