Everyone advised us not to go. But off we went. A Sekani Indian, setting little store by our obstinacy, offered us a bracelet of considerable sentimental value: “Take it. If you get through, keep it! Otherwise return it to me when you come back, which will be very soon.”
Actually, we did not turn back, but our crossing of the Cassiar Mountains north of Dease Lake in northern British Columbia took nine weeks instead of the three we’d planned. Since we had brought enough food for only four weeks, we hunted to survive. We were forced to grind it out in the forests and mountains in order to avoid the open rivers, where we risked our skins more than once.
Breaking trail on snowshoes and chopping down trees with an ax, we sometimes traveled no more than three miles a day. And then we still had to catch our dinner, which meant following the trail of a moose or caribou to the last hoofprint, the one with the hoof still in it. But we hung on, and the dogs did, too. We kept the bracelet, and its owner became our friend.