we strode by, no more than a few feet from our heavy boots. As we ascended from one of the many creek crossings, a shadowing figure slid across the road ahead, stopping momentarily, and we were blessed with an extraordinary view of the elusive wolverine3.
Although the route had only been abandoned for fifty years, already landslides obliterated long sections of trail, spilling down from the slopes above and covering kilometers at a time. Some of the slides were recent, a jumble of scarred boulders and debris that had wiped out everything in its way, and we trudged straight up and over these. Others were older, choked with thick stands of poplar and alder. Here progress slowed immeasurably as we hacked and slashed out way across.
Often it difficult to pick up the trail again on the far side, but soon Ferg and I began to understand the thinking and habits of the road’s planners. If we sought flat, well-drained ground, avoided any unnecessary ups and downs, and never crossed a river unless absolutely necessary, we usually found the trail again quickly. This apparent understanding brought an uncanny tie to the men how had toiled her decades earlier. At times it felt as if we were inside their heads, reading the land as they did and understanding their decisions. If the road ever took a turn that did not make sense, we soon discovered the reason for the aberration, such as a swamp not marked on our maps, or a bluff hidden from view on our approach.
Although the weather remained wet and cool, we rarely wore more than nylon shorts and a thin synthetic top, the strain of carrying the heavy loads was enough to keep us warm. River and creek crossings became an almost hourly occurrence. Usually the fast and frigid water was no more than knee deep. After pulling off our boots and getting into rubber ‘Teva’ sandals, we would carefully wade out into the flow, using the ski poles we hiked with to feel our way across. At deeper crossings we protected our cameras by tying them in garbage bags, just in case we went for an unplanned swim. On the far shore we would sit on our packs, cram sore feet back into stiff leather boots, and continue on. Many of the streams held the remains
3 The largest member of the weasel family, wolverines are ferocious hunters and scavengers with powerful jaws that can crush the thickest bones and cartilage. They will cover up to two thousand square kilometers (800 sq. miles) in the search for food. Their only enemy is man, for wolverines have even been known to stand up to a Grizzly. And although they never attack man directly, they pillaging of empty cabins is renowned, the insides torn completely to shreds.