The Legend of Dave King
The Legend of Dave King
When Dave King arrived in Prince George in 1973 to work the for forestry service as a biologist, he had a pet Raven that he took everywhere. He took it to work where it squawked when Dave had to answer questions to those far less knowledgeable than himself about forestry in the region. It pecked others who stopped Dave from leaving the office on time for reasons beyond Raven’s comprehension. And he rode on Dave’s shoulder when he headed out to Tabor Mountain to ski or hike.
Once in the bush, Raven would fly off looking for mice, small birds and/or their eggs, or juicy grubs tucked under logs. But he didn’t have much time for this because Dave never understood the meaning of switchback and because he had very long legs, he went straight up the mountain barely huffing and Raven had to work hard to keep up.
One day as Dave was marching up the hill, he almost squashed Raven when Raven landed just beside Dave’s foot. Dave was going to gently boot it out of the way but he noticed something was wrong. The bird flapped its wings and kept falling over. Dave bent down, as he couldn’t see that far when standing, and had a look. He found Raven had a broken leg. Being the compassionate type Dave took two birch twigs and splinted the leg, holding the splints in place with a round of birch bark and some duck tape that he always carried in his daypack. A few weeks later both Dave and Raven were in great shape and ready to return to Tabor.
The local hikers and skiers heard about this story of the new guy in town and in honour of Dave and Raven, they named the path where the broken leg event occurred the Birchleg Trail.
A few weeks later, Dave was again out on Tabor with his beloved Raven. As usual, they were both doing their own thing; Dave hiking and sawing away any obstructive dead fall, Raven foraging for food. Raven again hopped over to Dave and again Dave found he was injured. This time it seemed like the wing was hurt. Dave was very upset but soon found some hickory to splint the wing and then carried the bird home.
And as you might guess, the local outdoor gang, now a club called the Caledonia Ramblers, honoured Dave’s kindness and called the path the Hickory Wing Trail. It is still named such today.
But like everyone, Raven got old and developed some old-person traits. Dave realized after many days of odorous expulsions that Raven was constipated. He was out with Bjorn Norheim at the time and told Bjorn of the bird’s problems. Dave convinced Bjorn to cut Bjorn’s bamboo ski pole and use a small chunk of it as a poop scoop. Although Bjorn was reluctant, he finally agreed to the procedure.
Once he had a little scoop cut and polished so the splinters wouldn’t damage the bird, Dave inserted it into Raven’s rectum and the bird hopped along looking as sick as ever.
“Damn,” said Bjorn. “You wrecked my pole and your bird is still sick.”
Suddenly, the bird stopped and a pile of sawdust exploded from its backside. Raven shook its wings and marched along looking better than it had in weeks.
“So now,” said Dave, expecting the same honour as when he had fixed the bird’s leg and wing, “we could call this the “poop scoop trail.”
But Bjorn was unhappy, partly because of his wrecked ski pole and partly because Dave had gotten enough praise over the years.
“I know,” Bjorn said after a few silent hours of skiing. “We can call it the sawdust trail.”
And that is what they did.
Eventually raven flew off to the happy hikers’ trekking ground somewhere over Tabor Mountain and Dave got old. But he never got too old to keep his presence known to the club. And although the Ramblers have a younger crew at the boardroom helm, Dave is still an active member of the trail maintenance crew and contributes mostly by cutting deadfall wherever those trees block hikers’ paths.
But many of the older hikers who remember Raven and the early hiking days no long patronize those maintained trails out on Tabor. They hike trails in town with the most popular being the Crossroads Trail with its numerous trailheads and with the final destination being the local micro-brew. We, the older crew, are taking up a petition to have this trail included in the club’s continuously updated hiking guide!