The elderly man walked into the office, hunched and limping slightly.
He approached the counter and poked back the edge of his Cowichan cap. I expected he needed his driver’s licence copied or some such thing. Instead he produced two architectural drawings, rolled them out on the counter and muttered something to himself.
There was something familiar in his eyes that I couldn’t identify. I cast off my befuddlement and concentrated on the task at hand. As the drawings were, the tracing paper had a very good chance of catching in the big copier.
Again, he sensed my hesitation.
There was something mischievous about his smile. No, something challenging.
And then through the door came a giant of a man. He had a map of Tibet that had been worn and torn over the years. He wanted it laminated. He was going there for a five-week “hike.”
He looked down at the man in the Cowichman cap and said, “Hello Rob! How are you doing?”
The two chatted and Rob looked at the map of Nepal and began a conversation.
Rob? Nepal? Mountains? Could it be him?
The big man left, leaving the map of Nepal for pick up later that day. I laid the copies of blue prints on the front desk and just had to ask, “Are you Rob Wood, the mountaineer?”
“Yes, I am,” he said, ingratiatingly.
I blurted out something about being pleased to meet him and that I loved his book and that every time I was in Bute Inlet or Strathcona Park I thought of him as I gazed up into the magnificent draws of the magnificent mountains of the magnificent and how marvelous it would be to be up there, among those magnificent mountains, looking down and out and up at the magnificent views.
We chatted for a bit and he told me of his new book published by Rocky Mountains Books Ltd. called At Home With Nature, A Life Of Unknown Mountains And Deep Wilderness.
I asked where I could get a copy and his eyes twinkled again as he took off his backback and pulled out a copy.
I paid him happily and, unfortunately, another customer had come in who respectfully waited for our conversation to come to an abbreviated halt.
We shook hands again and out the door he went.
His book was not what I expected. It is better.
This book is a mountain in and of itself.
It is a mountain of a family’s existence off the grid; it is a mountain of a book that takes you to the personal peaks and valleys of a life well-lived; it is a mountain of a book with clouds of trepidations flowing over tall peaks and sun-shined skies broken only by the massive outcrops of a geography mapped by rock, tears, trees, laughs and smiles.
In his book, I believe Rob is saying goodbye and hello.
He tells of his battle with Parkinsons and other near-death experiences both he and his wife Laurie went through on their wonderful journey.
This is not a book about how to climb a mountain.
It is a book about one family’s, one community’s, one man’s ascent to a better being.