Life takes us on many amazing journeys and finding myself riding a quad in northern Alberta en route to a remote archaeological field survey was one of those times. I had only been in Alberta for a handful of days, was a newly-minted graduate of a one-day ATV safety course, and my previous work that was anywhere near this remote had been boat survey. What could possibly go wrong??
I took my twenty-something self and played by all the rules I had learned on my ATV course. One day our crew stopped by a beaver pond as our senior lead checked his topo map. He was old school and although had a GPS, he always made sure he knew where we were on the physical map. If you have done any sort of survey in remote places, you know the danger if you don't know where you are. Where we were there are no roads, not even logging ones, only the criss-cross of seismic lines that can lead you to a whole lot of lost if you're not mindful.
But I digress, back to the beaver pond.
When our crew lead was ready, he took point, riding up the hill and on the way to the next area. Our crew was maybe seven, and I waited my turn as each rode up single-file. I replayed my ATV instructor's words for going uphill, stand up, lean forward, et cetera. When it was my turn, I followed the directions in my head, stand up, lean forward . . . and VROOM, I shot backwards towards the beaver pond!
I realized my hip was pressing the throttle as I was leaning forward, and I had left the machine in reverse. I immediately corrected, in time to avoid dumping myself into the pond. The lone colleague who saw and (safely) raced off her quad. Her face was so worried until I stopped the ATV, not in the pond but still way too close for comfort.
Then she laughed, and laughed, and then laughed some more. With the danger passed she could tease me. It was a rookie and embarrassing mistake, but also just one of many incredible adventures life has led me on. We made our way up the hill and no one else on the crew even noticed. I worked with her for a number of years after, and every now and then, with big smiles, we would share the laugh again. It could have ended very badly, but it didn't.
One of the things the field taught me is to learn from the everything, especially the close calls, but to also keep the laughter.
Be safe out there, and have fun!!