inch or two higher, we both would have been swimming. Shivering and tired, we brewed a cup of tea.
A steady drizzle made it difficult to re-warm. Walking seemed like the best cure, so we began heading inland, across twenty miles of indistinguishable flats that lead towards the Mackenzie River. Initially the trail was hard to pick up, but once we found it, it ran for as far as the eye could see, cut the swampy spruce forest in a perfectly straight line. As the twilight of late evening began to descend, our thoughts turned to rest, but for kilometer after kilometer, not a single appealing camping spot presented itself in the boggy, overgrown land. As tempting as it was, we did not want to camp smack in the middle of the trail, undoubtedly a thoroughfare for bear, moose, and other wildlife. Eventually we were forced to scramble through dense underbrush, searching for a clearing large enough to erect our tiny tent. Clean water was difficult to find, and with no other option, we reluctantly dipped out pots into a tobacco-coloured swamp coated with thick green algae.
The drizzle abated over night, but everything was sodden by morning. Chilly clouds remained low to the ground, swirling past. With a grimace, we pulled on drenched clothes, rung out our socks and crammed our swollen feet back into squelching boots for one last time. As we set out, twin walls of spruce stretched on interminably before us. It was impossible to judge exactly where we were, the tiny variations in elevation we passed were over indiscernible on our map. Both of us began to suffer from ‘its-the-last-day-and-I-can’t-take-another-minute’ syndrome. Each step now felt like horrendous labour, our feet and backs ached, time crawled by. Waist deep bogs obliterated long sections of road, and without even pausing, we hoisted our packs over our shoulders and trudged straight through.
Autumn was in the air. Yellow rushes stood amidst the dark waters of trailside ponds. Swaths of horsetail flamed in brilliant orange. White and yellow birch began to appear, interspersed with the spruce, their leaves fluttering down to cover the bogs in thick mats. The swamplands were still, the cacophony of summer gone, the frogs, crickets and cicadas silent. In a brief respite, the land caught its breath before the harsh northern winter set in.