The Sweet Kiss of Wilderness


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We were driving down Highway 37 on our way back from Dawson City, Yukon. We had been on the road for almost three weeks and we were spent. Long days of driving long B.C. roads that carried few people across the province other than the occasional logging truck. By the time we made it to Highway 37 we were covered in a thick layer of grime and could no longer smell our own scent that was begging us to shower. It was me, her and our big Bernese Mountain Dog crammed into one car driving home from the farthest north either of us had ever been.
While driving down this old beat-up highway we had no cell service and very few markers of civilization. Old, abandoned-looking properties lined the side of the narrow chunked-out road. We had already been driving for hours and we still had no idea where we were planning to stop for the night. There were no streetlights and no towns, and we needed to find a spot to camp soon or face setting up our tent in the dark.
We had a map book and our own intuition to get us down this highway. We picked a campsite in our book that was described as a pocket of nature that would keep us within a safe grasp of the road. Then, we drove past it. Determined to find this site and satisfy our sense of adventure we found a place to pull over and reconsider our location. We turned around and match the bends in the road with the bends on the map with eyes fiercely scanning the edge of the highway.
I do not think anyone would have suspected the dangling piece of worn out wood and grown over gravel road to symbolize a turnoff to a campsite. The sign looked like it had been painted the same colour of dirt brown a thousand times over and the road had dense vegetation sprouting from it. We turned up it reluctant of what we would find.
The notion of rest was on the horizon as we bumped our way along the road. We trekked through thick brush that painted its fingers along the doors of the SUV. Large sunken potholes stole our speed and a black bear curiously questioned our presence there. After half an hour, we finally reached a white plastic numbers nailed to a tree that marked our site. The bushes surrounding the entrance were worn into a perfect square leaving just enough room for us to park. The space beyond opened into a large canopy of evergreen trees that hugged us with heavy-weighted arms. The site was massive and edged a glass-water lake that was held tight by thick forest and unscathed biomes. This was no neatly tended campsite; we were at the mercy of the wilderness.
We set-up our thin nylon tent and covered it with tarps to protect us from the clouds that were smirking at us with the certainty of rain. By the time our temporary home was sorted and our bellies full, the depth of our sight had retreated with the dark and the earth began to speak. Nature hummed and danced around us as we toted off to bed.
At first it was peaceful, the buzz of evening crawlers comforting us as we reflected on the day. But then, fracturing the night, was a howl. It was so pure and strong, it vacated us. The howl stretched and reached its way up through the hills. We paused. It called again, louder, and closer this time. Our senses spiked and our movement muted. For a long moment there was nothing, an emptiness hung in the air. Then came a howling reply. Far up the mountain side and off to what we assumed was the west of us, a collective howl reached out to a lone soldier. A series of calls and responses tracked the wolf’s movement toward its home. Its howl faded into the depths of the wilderness.
We rejoiced in witnessing something deeper than ourselves that night, the pure unfiltered spirit of the land that we had stumbled upon for the night; A pocket of wilderness that edged us just far enough to leave humanity behind and be touched by the sweet kiss of wilderness. We were grinning as we drifted off to sleep, our souls full and heavy, our sense of adventure abundantly satisfied. Then, it began to rain
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