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The Golden Lining

by Zach Doehler 6 months ago in nature

A story about how not every bad day has to have an unhappy ending.

The Golden Lining

One Sunday morning during the peak of Winter out here in Beautiful British Columbia, I woke up to a gorgeous layer of snow covering the landscape outside my window. It was a stunning sight to see and a very welcome one, as it is not very often that we get snow where I live. Contrary to what many people believe, we don't all ride polar bears and live in igloo's up here in Canada. There are some parts of the country that hardly ever get snow, like Vancouver Island, the place that I call home just off the coast of BC. So, as you'd expect, it's always a very exciting time when we get snow here. And it's something that I must take advantage of since it doesn't take much time before that fresh snowfall begins to melt and everything starts to look rather gross...

I decided to call up my friends that morning and we went out to go shoot some local spots in these beautiful white conditions. We had a few spots in mind; a lake, some waterfalls, possibly the beach - it was going to be a perfect day for photography. Not to mention, the weather was gorgeous that day, which tends to be a rarity after a heavy snowfall. Therefore, I wanted to make sure I took advantage of this very rare combination of fresh snow and beautiful sunny skies.

Our first location that we had in mind to shoot at was a lake at an elevation of about 500 metres. In order to get there, you drive a fairly steep paved road. Fortunately for us, the road had already been plowed and was relatively dry from the sunlight, so we were good to go in our 2wd cars. Now bear in mind, I had only been driving for a couple years at this point and considering I've been living in the "Canadian Tropics" my whole life, I have very little experience in the snow. Thus, I was pretty unaware of just how quickly crap can hit the fan if you aren't being careful.

My friends drove in front of me in their car and I followed behind by myself in mine. We drove along this freshly plowed road at a mere 5km/hr above the speed limit. Nothing crazy; or so I thought. As we're heading up, I'm becoming rather ignorant to all the snow on the side of the road left over by the plow truck. And since I am still getting used to the corners of my vehicle, I don't even realize how close I am to touching that snow. I come around a corner and out of nowhere, my car starts getting pulled into the ditch. I slam on my breaks and try to turn out of it - a rookie mistake - and of course, it is to no avail. I am at the mercy of the snowbank, and I get pulled down into this very steep ditch. If it weren't for the cedar tree that saved me, my car would have rolled for sure, and I could have been in a world of pain.

But fortunately for me, the only pain I felt was my wallet shrinking, as I began to wonder how much this silly mistake was going to cost me. Not only would I have to pay to get my vehicle out, but I'd have to pay to fix the damage to my car as well. I sat there in my car, which was covered in snow and pine needles, and on a 45 degree angle as it rested solely on that tree preventing it from rolling. My friends quickly came over to see if I was okay, I grabbed my camera gear from my car and managed to get out. I hadn't been hurt in the slightest and my airbags never went off, so I was feeling pretty relieved. I began to laugh as I looked at my pathetic little car sitting in the ditch. I called my parents and explained the situation to them, then I began calling tow companies to see if any would be available to help me out that day.

It wasn't the most opportune time to call a tow truck, many other drivers had made similar mistakes as I did that day due to the sudden snowfall we got. Plus, it was a holiday, so there weren't as many tow trucks out as there normally would. Fortunately, a tow company agreed to come out and help get my car out. But, it was going to take some time. I had to wait around 4 hours for them to finally arrive. Once they eventually did, they had to call another tow truck to come over since one was not going to be enough. I had gotten myself into quite the little predicament... Once the second tow truck came, they attached ropes to both corners of my vehicle and gently pulled it up and out of that steep ditch. While they did so, my friends and I helped to direct traffic on that road.

Once my car was out, I let it sit for a few minutes to let all the fluids settle back to a level position before turning it over. I was a bit concerned that I'd be screwed and have to get my car towed home as well, which would only end up costing me even more money. Fortunately, in true Toyota-fashion, my car started up without any issues and I drove it home. Once I arrived home, it was close to evening time and I knew that this special day I had planned out turned to garbage from this one mistake. I felt ashamed in myself for not being more careful. Had I just gone a little slower and stayed farther from the snow, it never would have happened. But here I was with a dented car and a bit less money in my already thin pockets; what was I to do?

I looked outside my window and noticed the skies beginning to light up with a gorgeous warm tone. It was stunning in contrast with the bright white landscape. It didn't feel wise to go tackle the roads again on my own, but I just couldn't resist. The conditions were too perfect! I hopped in my car and went to a different location this time, in search of a good view for sunset. I stumbled across this road which lined up perfectly with the moody skies above. In addition, the road had such a nice dry contrast to it despite the snow that surrounded it. I loved the composition, so I took the photo. That was really the only image that I got that night, but it was the only one I needed.

Once I got home, I began processing the image on my computer. Transforming that very flat RAW file into something colorful and punchy. I focused on darkening that sky and bringing out the light center-frame. And I made sure to emphasize the colorful feeling that I experienced when capturing that image. Not long after that day, I posted it to my Instagram (@calibreus) and it became one of my most popular images to date.

Who knew that such a terrible day would have such a happy ending. It makes me wonder if I ever would have gotten this shot had I not crashed my car into a ditch that day. Perhaps I would have been at the wrong spot and at the wrong time had everything 'gone to plan'. Sometimes, even when your plans turn south, ya gotta make the most of it. You never know what will come from it in the end.

Zach Doehler
Zach Doehler
Read next: Camping > Hotels
Zach Doehler

Hi! My name is Zach and I am a landscape and nature photographer from British Columbia, Canada. I look forward to sharing with you the behind-the-scenes of some of my adventures!

Website: calibreus.co

Instagram: @calibreus

See all posts by Zach Doehler