and made hiking tough. The river snaked back and forth across the canyon floor, rebounding off the walls. Dropping the packs, taking our boots off, putting our sandals on, wading across, and preparing to continue was a tedious process, and soon we gave up any hope of keeping our feet dry. First jumping from stone to stone, and eventually wading straight through the knee deep water. This was a wise decision, as we were forced to cross the river more than sixty times as we worked our way onwards.
After several hours of plodding along, a resounding rumble caused us to jump and spin around. Just as we did, a large chunk of canyon wall broke away behind us, avalanching down and obliterating the ground we had crossed minutes earlier. Later, the quiet canyon echoed with the shrill cries of a peregrine falcon. Angered by our presence near its nest, the falcon shadowed us for ten minutes, soaring from outcrop to outcrop, screaming in protest until we had moved on. Waterfalls regularly poured down from the canyon’s rims, and the luxuriant carpets of green moss that grew in their fine mist were a beacon of life amidst the otherwise dry land.
As we neared the end of the canyon, its walls closed in again, a final threshold before spilling out onto the Plains of the Mackenzie. Looking up, I was astounded to see a lone dog wandering through the rubble far ahead. We were still two days walk from Norman Wells. Perhaps a local was out on a hunting or fishing trip? Scanning the rocky ground, I expected to see an owner appear from behind a canyon wall at any moment. But as Ferg and I continued onwards, we suddenly realized that the dog was in fact a wolf, moving quickly up the canyon towards us, unaware yet of our presence. Without a seconds forethought I tipped my head back and howled, overwhelmed by the joy of seeing the majestic animal so close. Ferg howled too, and our calls echoed from wall to wall. Amazingly the wolf sped up its approach, and upon closing to within a few hundred feet, circled inquisitively. Then after staring straight at us with its penetrating eyes, it simply disappeared, melting away amidst the boulders as only wolves can. Minutes later we passed a lone caribou trudging up the canyon, and wondered aloud what fate might await it along the narrowing path.