It is now the day before Thanksgiving and I have competed the text for our journey to the Scud glacier. I had intended to use this postscript either to write something profound or to describe the journey back to Vancouver and Lakewood. The former would require too much effort and the latter could not be of any interest to anyone other than myself, and perhaps Mike and Bob. And so a third option appears, a third option that most authors seem to take when trying to write an end to something they have spent many words trying to describe. I shall try to sew up a few loose ends.
Mike's arm, broken on the first day of the trip, made it through to the end of the trip, though he lost his ability to drive without severe pain. This meant that, as he had driven me up from Lakewood to Vancouver, I would have to take a Greyhound bus back to the United States, leaving some of my gear in Vancouver. Although not a fun way to end a hard trip, it wasn't as bad as other rides on the Dog and I managed to make it back in one piece. Mike eventually made it to the hospital to have his arm looked at by a professional. It was broken, and there was tendon damage, but it would not have to be re-broken, nor would he suffer any permanent damage. Six weeks later he was back climbing on rock.
Bob spent time with friends and family in the Vancouver area before beginning several months of travel in Asia. He is currently in Nepal on a long trekking trip around Dhaulahiri, one of the 8000+ meter peaks. Once done with that, he will tackle the more casual Annapurna Circuit. Having been to Nepal, I am jealous beyond belief as I sit in Lakewood and grow fat and complacent. You can follow along on his journey at his blog.
After getting home, I immediately went to a family reunion (the next day, in fact) in Oregon where I tried to process the difficult times spent up north. I was pulled inward and didn't make especially good company for the others, as I was spending most of my time in my head, thinking about what had taken place and taking comfort in the security of urban living. After a few days I returned to Washington and set out two days later for a mostly off trail traverse of the Bailey Range in the Olympic Mountains. The comparative ease of that trip brought me out of my inwardness and I am now quite back to normal. School has begun and my thoughts have once again been drawn to the next summer.
The North is now covered in snow. In late November, NovaGold announced that further development of the mine at Galore Creek would be terminated. Citing cost over runs and the increasingly weak US dollar, the corporation simply couldn't make the project work at an acceptable level of profit. The roads and tunnels they built, the holes they dug in the earth, the dams they constructed, will remain. Galore Creek is no longer wild, but also won't be destroyed. The next place may not be so lucky. The people of the north will lose the high paying jobs the mine brought with it.
There is a massive tract of land, running from Vancouver north along the coast that is still wild, still unexplored, still virgin. Anyone with a map, enough money for a float plane, and enough endurance can go there. Pick a place. Go and see it. You had better do so now, before a mine is sunk into it, before a dam is built, before the forest logged. Go now before the glaciers retreat completely, before the land is changed forever. Do not put off going to a wild place. Do not settle for the comfort of a close mountain and a shower and warm bed in the evening. Do not hold tightly to security, certainty, and comfort. They will be there when you return. Go North, and do so now, for the land is changing, and the change will be forever.