grow closer as friends, coming to understand and respect each other more with every passing day. We often found ourselves engaged in long and spirited conversations from sun up to sun down. And as each afternoon wore on we often broke into song, Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’ dominating the play list. Now, as a cool, grey sky settled in during our day of rest, we sat together by the roaring stove, trading tales. As Ferg launched into long and often hilarious accounts of his experiences as an military college cadet, and his seven years as navigator aboard Hercules aircraft, I felt as if I was discovering a new friend.
Howling winds woke me the next morning. The Quonset groaned as rain buffeted against the thin walls. Tucked deep in cozy sleeping bags, neither of us felt inclined to jump up when the six o’clock alarm went off. A chill had settled across the mountains that even a raging fire in the potbelly stove could not dispel. Stiff fingers fumbled with stiff boots as we prepared to stagger out into the gale. Minutes after our departure the drizzle turned to snow, and began to accumulate in sodden patches across the barren land. The thought of turning back to the cabin must have passed through both our minds, but without discussion we bowed our heads and pressed on into the wind. Soon large flakes of wet snow were falling in sheets, soaking everything. I dug gloves out from my pack, but my fingers were already frigid and fumbled frustratingly, unable to do up my anorak zipper.
As mist and snow swirled around us, we lost all sense of progress. I had no idea how far we had traveled down the valley. We were stumbling along when Ferg suddenly held up. ‘I could swear I just saw a bear on the trail,’ he murmured. He cursed our luck. I cursed the fact he always saw things first. Was it my fate to spend the entire trip looking at my feet? We groped at frozen holsters to ready the bear spray and bangers while peering into the whiteness. As we stood, snow silently piling on our toques and shoulders, three wolf cubs appeared from the mist. Barely large enough to scramble over the gravel embankment of the road, they dropped to their haunches and edged their way forward like excited puppies. The grey and black cubs were as interested in us as we were in them, and for a few timeless moments we stood face to face, eyes locked, snow swirling around us. Then without a sound, a much larger wolf appeared from the