By David MacKinnon, feature photo Tanner Davidson shot by Tim Nelson
It isn’t always fun and games in the backcountry, and you don’t get to the level of the Oil Country crew without a few bumps in the road along the way. Tanner Davidson and Darcy Keller are key members of the Eastern BC/ Alberta crew, and last year while filming for Trunk Road they smashed square into one of those road bumps. Or, more accurately, Tanner smashed square into a tree stump that was hidden just beneath the snow. While he suffered heavy injuries, it could have been a lot worse– luckily for him, his crew was prepared and able to get him the help he needed. This week’s Tuesday TwoSix is a heavy one, but there are lessons worth learning from Tanner’s story. Read on for some Trunk Road realness.
Tanner: I’m just getting back into things, but I’ve been out a fair amount. I’m trying to sled a lot and get back in the flow.
Darcy: I’ve been out a fair bit; I’ve been off work and shredding five days a week at least since November.
What are you working on this season? Will there be another Oil Country project?
Tanner: That’s the plan. We’re doing a project based around trips with an outfitter tent. We’ve been on one trip so far. We drove to the end of a logging road and set the tent up, then sledded into the zone from there every day. But some of the upcoming trips will involve setting up camp in the backcountry using toboggans behind the sled, stay out for 5-7 days. It’s more productive– you’re kind of just immersed in it.
Darcy: I love it in the tent. I spend a lot of time in there, we’ve got battery-powered lights and a woodstove, you just hang out. It’s usually comfortable being in just a hoody in the tent, everyone has a cot, we set up a table in the middle and play Catan or Yahtzee. It’s a good vibe, it gets everybody in the same mindset.
You two were involved in a helivac filming for Oil Country’s last project, Trunk Road– what happened?
Tanner: It was just south of Revelstoke, on the first day of a trip. It was pretty good light and we were eager to get after it– we did a few soul laps, then found a step down in the trees. Tyler [Lightfoot] and I lined up some different variations of it, and I ended up finding a pretty big stump in the landing. It worked me. I ended up with a ruptured spleen, collapsed lung, three fractured ribs, six fractured vertebrae and a broken scapula. Luckily I didn’t hit my head and I maintained consciousness.
Darcy: Tanner was a champion through the whole thing– he was cool, calm and collected the whole time.
Tanner: I’ve had lots of injuries in the past, so I knew how to take it for what it was.
What happened next?
Darcy: I got to Tanner I started checking him out– I’d just taken OFA level 3 first aid, super thankful that was fresh in my head– and at one point he coughed and it was pretty gurgly, then he spat out a bit of blood. At that point I was like ‘man, we can’t sled him out of here we’re in the middle of nowhere.’ It would have been a couple hours down a bumpy trail, and then two hours drive to the hospital. We had to call a heli. I always have an InReach in my bag, whether we’re filming or just taking laps or whatever, so I took that out and hit the SOS button to initiate communications with dispatch and Search and Rescue from Nelson. It was about two hours from when he hit the ground to when the heli left the backcountry, and even that was lucky because the clouds were in and out and it was getting late in the day. It could have been a completely different outcome. We’re so lucky to live in this amazing country where a rescue like that is even a possibility.
Tanner, how was the recovery? Was that a season ender?
Tanner: I did make it out to S-Games in the spring, I just judged. It was more a mental thing, I wanted to get out just to show myself I could, not push it or anything. It was good to get out. I still don’t feel 100 percent, but I’m pretty confident with where I’m at. Right now I’m just soul shredding and working my way back in. I still really want to ride as much as I can and push myself, but I’m gonna be a bit smarter about things and a little less eager to act.
It sounds like the tent will be a good place to get back into it in a healthy way.
Tanner: Yeah, filming from the tent will be good. Being with people I can trust out there, people who can support what I want to do and know how to make it happen in a safe way. That injury was an eye opener– you never expect that stuff to happen. I’m really thankful to have a crew that was prepared.
Darcy: That was my third time helping with an incident where the heli had to be called– it’s never fun, but you have to be ready for it.
Tanner: It was actually my only time riding in a heli [laughs]. It’s funny; I was actually able to appreciate it for what it was on the flight.
Shoutouts to Evan, Tyler, and the Oil Country Crew, Ryan at Nitro, Country Eyewear, Plenty, Mineki at Rude Boys, Taylor at Ride, Dan at Vans, The Source, Electric, Ekumenik, and Tanner’s family.