I keep thinking of this: late last August, up in the high Nahanni, I woke to the roar and rumble of rockfall in the dawn. Poked my head from the tent flap, in time to glimpse a boulder twice the size of a pickup truck, hurtling down the couloir of Lonely Spur – right where we had picked our way across, two days before. A dozen thousand-pounders trailed and flanked that big one. White rock dust, smell of ozone.
Down at the river mouth this morning more overflow, and thin ice where yesterday we crossed so cavalier and confident. Now those sled tracks just go right under, into flowing water. O.K. then, whoa. Gee over!
Years back that griz standing foursquare in the November trail, facing the lead dogs, then coming fast right past the team. Staggering, waving, I figured it was all over. He bumped me and went by.
We clamber among coincidences,
Pick our footfalls, watch our steps.
Try to make each round a dance, of sorts.
This brief life:
no time for weary shuffle or sheepish march.
No hunkering down in fear.
Some of us, oh so lucky, have made another lap.
Rockfall, ice crack, bear charge.
Clamber on, mes chers copains, clamber on.
Allemande left with the old left hand and grab your partner by the hand.