The following adventure is a chapter from my larger blog detailing our adventure up the Dempster Highway which led us from Dawson City in the Yukon Territory to a swim in the Arctic Ocean. This snippet details the possible connections between spiritual realms within a primordial environment. The spirit of the caribou continues to haunt and fascinate me still, after many years. A link to the full blog is at the end of this snippet. I hope you will enjoy the tale about to be told.
Chapter 5 – Spirit of the Caribou
August 25, 2012
I have packed up our wet gear, enjoyed one last shower, and journeyed into Inuvik for a few supplies and a cup of hot tea water from the Visitor’s Center. We thanked them, made our adieu’s and headed south again, making pretty good time. There is a long line at the McKenzie crossing which allowed us to make some lunch and dry out some of our gear (tent) on the hood of the truck.
Colors on the tundra are improving and encourages me to make some stops along the way (I never require a lot of convincing). While in Inuvik, we had spoken with some folks who had also recently made the northward trek up the Dempster and heard of a recent caribou kill by a grizzly just south of the Northwest Territory boundary a few days earlier. I am convinced the bear I photographed a few days previously in the distance was the culprit in the kill. Keeping a watchful eye, we actually can see the antlers off in the distance on the brightly carpeted tundra. We make camp at Rock River again, getting our “old” campsite. Having made camp, eaten dinner and enjoyed a hot toddy (a concoction of coffee and Yukon Jack I have named the “Trailblend”), and contemplating the “long” wait till sack-time, we decide to turn back up to the north and make some photographs of the antlers. It is a relatively short eight mile drive up the road to within site and a straight path to the antlers. We venture out into the tussock with wary eyes and shouts to notify a bear of our presence. No sign of any bear. The antlers are a (few?) hundred yards off the road, right next to what I believe to be a buried gut pile. (The bear has feasted and buried the leftovers for later.)
The antlers are still affixed to an empty hide, and the disturbed ground does not give me the opportunity for the photo I would like to make, so I use my folding knife to cut the antlers away from the carcass and transplant them to a colorful tussock away from the hide and pile. Much better aesthetics!
Back at camp, I am enjoying my second hot Trailblend of the night when I notice that I cannot find my folding knife. The knife is rather special to me, as it was a gift made by my friend “Alaska Rod” Hinson and is now nowhere to be found, having searched high and low around camp. There is nothing to do but head back to the antlers and search the ground. I will concede I am feeling no pain and otherwise rather joyful having benefited well from the toddies, but the chance of running into much traffic or a constable on the Dempster at 10:30 in the evening is nil to none, and off we go. What a blessing this extra trip turns out to be. Rock River campground is nestled in a sheltered creek bed comforted by spruce trees, and as we emerge into the higher country we are treated to a display of long evening light reflecting off the high clouds onto the Richardson Mountains, with the added bonus of a rainbow.
Back at the carcass location, I cannot find my knife anywhere. I begin to wonder: I have separated the antlers from the spirit of the caribou. Did that spirit separate me from my knife? Being sensitive to such questions, particularly with the heightened enlightenment of a few Trailblends, I return the antlers to the hide. As I turn around and look down upon the ground, lo and behold there is my knife. I am convinced that in reuniting antlers with hide, returning what was caribou to caribou, the spirit of the caribou returned to me what is mine. It is an evening of blessings all around, and the spirits are smiling upon us once again.
By the time we are back in camp it finally IS time to hit the bags and catch some sleep.
The following are shameless internal links for search engine enhancement!
For a full resolution complete blog of our trip up the Dempster Highway, please visit my SmugMug page at: Led by a Lens: A Dempster Diary
It is all about preserving moments of time and space. I would invite you to roam some of my Photo Galleries, all virtual!
If you would like to make some adventures of your own, consider joining me for a personalized workshop!