Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lucky: A True Story

When my husband and I were moony-faced newlyweds we went back-country hiking. We took enough food and red wine for five days, a brand new orange two-man tent, a couple of down sleeping bags that zipped together, and our fluffy, big-footed white puppy who was still too little to climb a flight of stairs on his own. We attached a big yellow bear bell to his collar so he wouldn't startle anybody predatory while he frolicked in meadows of wildflowers.

We parked our car just outside of Whitehorse Provincial Wildland Area and hoofed our overloaded packs. A wild land park is accessible by foot only. You can climb the mountains there either on your own two feet or on horseback. It's quite remote and I don't use that word lightly but there was evidence of other hikers and horse-campers there. We were headed 5 kilometers up a mountain to a designated back-country campsite at the base of a waterfall.

Not that we made it there.

It was hot and our packs were crippling on account of too much wine and massage oil and espresso making apparatus. We must have diverged off the main trail when we went skinny-dipping in what looked like the most refreshing little natural mountain pool ever. It wasn't refreshing, though, so much as bone-shatteringly cold. It was probably the coldest glacier run-off that any dumb-ass has ever jumped off a rock into. I'm glad we didn't have heart attacks but we must certainly have been in shock as we staggered out of that water screaming. Our puppy looked on skeptically the whole time. He seemed quite worried that he'd hitched his wagon to a couple of simpletons -- an opinion he has not since revised.

We kept on climbing. And we climbed and we climbed. And it was so hard. 5km has never felt so long. In fact, it felt much more like 10. And then it felt more like 15. And then we could have sworn it was more like 20.

It was one of those switch-backy dealios where it always looks like you're probably almost there, if you just make it around the next corner.

I was so so tired and worn out. And hubby was mad at me for being whiny even though he was now carrying his backpack (the heavy one) AND mine and still, I insisted I couldn't take another step.

Then, around the next corner, was the softest, mossiest, sun-dappledest bed all made up with a blanket of clover and nestled among some gentle trees.

"I'm taking a nap now," I told hubby. 

The puppy was all for it. 

Hubby threw down our packs and we all went straight to sleep.We woke dreamily under that verdant bower and began to take stock of our surroundings and our situation. 

That's when we noticed the bleached white femur poking out of the moss. 

Then we noticed some ribs sticking up.

Then the skull and a rusted horseshoe became visible. 

There was a piece of wood nailed to one of the trees with the words "HERE LIES LUCKY HE DIED TRYING" carved onto it.

Yup. We napped on a horse's grave.You'd think we'd have felt creepy about it but it was gorgeous. I can't think of a better nap I've ever had in my life. There was something lovely about the way that horses' body made that spot so fecund. There was something beautiful about the way LUCKY picked that very spot for his final resting place and suffused it with the very spirit of restfulness and succor.

We left the horseshoe there -- we didn't take any thing with us.

And of course, everything was okay. We had enough energy to make it to the top of the mountain after that where there certainly was not a waterfall but an alpine meadow leading up to a glacier-capped peak where we saw, I shit you not, a wolverine. Then it became obvious where, on the map of the park we were and that we should head back down and make camp someplace sheltered before it got dark. 

What am I trying to tell you? Nothing. Just a story. I'm not sure what the moral of it is. It's just the way it happened.

When we got back home our puppy could climb the stairs all on his own.

Love and Luck,

1 comment:

  1. Well it was a great story. Thanks for telling it! Makes me miss hiking with my hubs, haven't gotten to much of that since the babe arrived... Next time I lay down for a nap I'm sure a horse carcass is going to cross my mind... in the most lovely way ;)


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