Ice Hiking in British Columbia 18
I took this photo on the day when faint clouds began dot-dashing over Dauntless and Vigilant, like some sort of celestial morse code. The temperature dropped; the air felt different. We knew the first autumn storms could occur over the Waddington massif in late August, and one storm could leave several feet of snow on rock and ice. So we got up before dawn and headed down the Franklin Glacier, happy to be transporting just one pack each. We were in good shape, and we hiked the distance from Icefall Point to the snout in one day.
In the soft Canadian twilight we came off the glacier and shuffled into Last Valley Camp. I had never been so tired in my life. I remember two things: first, the taste of spring water that had been filtered through the soft good earth. It was infinitely more delicious than the pure ice water up on the glacier.
And I remember helping in some way to set up the tent, then being pushed into it. I fell on the air mattress and pulled my bag over me, too tired to unzip and get in it. Much too exhausted to sleep. Larry’s face was drawn with fatigue, but he doggedly got out the little mountaineering stove and started to cook something.
At that point we had our third great wildlife experience. There was a deer mouse convention going on at Last Valley Camp. When it grew dark, a lot of mice came out, and a dozen began to dance.
I watched the little shadows on the tent wall. Silhouetted in the light of the flashlight and stove, they leapt, popcorned, twirled madly. Such a strange thing, so far outside of my human experience. Yet I couldn't help thinking of it as a celebration of our return to the wonderful world of green.
Finally one little dancer outdid itself. It ran up on Larry's pack near the stove and launched itself in a graceful arc. Larry saw the trajectory and shot his hand over the cookpot. There was a confused interaction of mouse, hand, and soup, and the pot went flying off the little stove. My usually soft spoken husband spent the next two minutes cursing himself and the entire province of British Columbia.
Inside the tent, my dimmed brain observed that a faint guffaw was rising from my tired chest. I thought: If we had to experience one disaster out of the many possibilities on this trip, this seemed like a pretty good choice.
……And now, dear friends, As Savannah Nix says in Mad Max
Beyond Thunderdome, this telling is telled and there ain't no more.
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