It is cold again when I crawl out of the cramped tent at 7 AM. Michael is brewing hot coffee although I did not know at the time that we were using the last fumes of our heating gas. The hot oatmeal breakfast is invigorating. I am slightly depressed when I learn that there will be no more hot coffee to lean on during the hard day ahead.
The continued nights of rain has melted the river ice and induced a swift current. In many areas the river is now waste deep. There are now no safe places to cross.
We meander up and down the river bank looking for signs that would show us the way back to Anaktuvuk Pass on the other side of the river. Ice bridges, with the river gushing below them, also been dominated the river’s surface. If one should collapse we would be sucked into the raging river below with no way to grasp a shoreline and escape.
Finally step-by-step we find the first crossing. We move slowly across the current facing sideways. I grasped Michael’s pack which helps us form a wedge as we slowly creep across the now knee deep water. Soaked and cold we continued this process time and time again. Ultimately we reach the far side of the river lifting ourselves five feet on to the snow-covered bank. Both of us are exhausted. We drain our shoes, changed our socks, and head up a steep embankment.
After our final lunch break, of hard cheese and crackers, we stumble up and up until the landing strip at Anaktuvuk is visible.