A Northern Diary

About 11:00 p.m. I finally got a glimpse of McClure when our trail passed near the deep ravine the river made. I had been vainly looking for it for the last few hours, but it was hidden in the canyon. The lake is about three miles long and is a skinny one. It’s sort of like a river in appearance, but a creek flows out of the other end, so you know it’s a real lake. As we descended the slope into the canyon, we saw Perry, our boss, swooping down in this little plane to land somewhere. But, the big surprising shock came next. As we rounded the fi nal hill, we saw a whole village of tents set up. My eyes bugged!

Men were crawling out of tents with their eyes bugging! As I helped catch and tie up the packhorses, I asked one, who seemed in change, what they were doing here. He explained that they were a Cominco exploration camp. They were looking for zinc, lead, silver, whatever… The company owns mines and sends out camps in the summer to look for likely areas for future ones. Then I spied Perry and went over to greet him. The situation was a surprise to him, too, but after a bit of talk we decided that everyone would get on O.K. at the same place for a while. Cominco was moving in two weeks anyway.

It’s funny, but Ormand and I had jokingly wondered if anyone would have coffee for us when we got to McClure that night. Then, lo and behold, we not only had coffee, but supper, too. To me it was a mirage — and no dishes, either!

Amid all the confusion of Perry’s landing, the horses coming, bells clanging, etc., a helicopter from Godlin also descended on the scene. The Cominco geologists talked about that night for some time to come. They were dazed to wake up in the night to the sound of gnashing teeth outside their tents. (The horses wasted no time in starting to graze.) Everyone got up except the offi cial cook, who was the only woman in a crew of about a dozen.

The next morning the geologists removed a tent from one of our tent frames and we put up our cook tent. It was too small, so we had to put it inside the frame. This caused a lot of problems later on because the rain ran down the sides. The rest of the day, I busied myself with putting food away while John and Ormand built a table and stand for my dishpans (ugh). Naturally, I had to visit and acquaint myself with everyone in the other camp, too.

Hansel was sick — or else just very tired. For the next week or so, he had no energy, he walked crunched up, he was foot sore, and his hips seemed stiff. He was always sneezing and coughing, so I imagine he’d picked up a doggy cold from swimming the ice cold rivers, and always being rained on and consequently wet.

Hunting season didn’t open until Thursday, the 15 of July, so we had two days to get ready.

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