Monday, November 16, 2009

Sporting With Leviathan II

The last embers of the fire winked out as the sun disappeared, leaving me spent, bewildered, feeling a little foolish. Mist began to rise from the ground; waves heaved and hissed against the fortress of rocks that protected my campsite, a small clearing between the looming evergreen forest and the beach. The sea along this glaciated coast is deep and very cold. Death would come in about ten minutes to a body immersed without protection.

The trees were almost black from the afternoon rain. Their soaked trunks and the moss-laden branches dripped and sighed. Darkness crept out from under the canopy and slowly began to devour everything. I shivered in the dampness and lit the camping stove to heat some water, seeking more the comfort of routine than a warming drink. I set the stainless steel pot over the tripod burner. While the small blue flame emitted its miniature roar, all the little worries about things that could go wrong came crowding into my mind. I ran through a cautionary checklist.

There was nothing in my tent that might smell like food, not even toothpaste. The food cache was a good distance away, covered with a tarp and heaped with pans so that any four-legged intruder seeking a midnight snack would make a racket. I had seen no bear sign. A spring tide was predicted for midnight, but the kayak was well above the tide line, braced by a log and tied to a tree for good measure. The weather was perfect; the VHS forecast no wind....

My fretting was cut short by a sharp stab on my ankle, and I woke up to the immediate peril of becoming a blood bank for the nearest million mosquitoes. Alaska mosquitoes—the mosquito is the unofficial state bird—come in three sizes: minute, medium, and helicopter; the small ones hurt the most. I switched off the stove. The contents of the pot went into my hot water bottle instead of my mug. I ducked inside the tent netting and zipped up the flap. Whatever happened this night would happen. I squirmed into my sleeping bag and fell asleep, a stone dropped into a deep well..


Blogger Bo said...

beautiful. I take it you didn't Exit, pursued by a Bear?

9:59 pm, November 19, 2009  
Blogger Maggie Ross said...

Stay tuned.

9:27 am, November 20, 2009  

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