Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Dilemma & Departure in Carmacks: Day 18 of the Yukon River Trip

Our last night on the Yukon River was sprinkled with squabbles about the approaching solo journey to & from Whitehorse.  Jake & I had opposing views about which one of us should catch the shuttle with Kanoe People back to Whitehorse and retrieve our Expedition & trailer to then drive the 112 road miles back to Carmacks.

I wanted to stay with the Sundowner, even though that meant I would be responsible for organizing all of our belongings (wet tarps & clothing, scattered toiletries, survival gear, bedding, kitchen & food supplies....) to fit into the Expedition for our 3,300-mile return drive home.  That daunting task was overshadowed by my abhorrent fear of--in my mind--the likely possibility that the Expedition would either A.) not start or B.) break down along the desolate drive back to Carmacks on the Klondike Highway (HWY 2).  Worst-Case-Scenario Girl envisioned the Expedition conking out halfway between Whitehorse & Carmacks and encountering a massive and aggressively destructive grizzly bear with an unquenchable curiosity for the shaking, mortified me trapped inside the easily penetrable shell where I prayerfully took refuge....  Or, perhaps an up-to-no-good wilderness-dwelling savage that preys on helplessly stranded Americans without a cell signal would materialize from the backcountry and drag me off into the bush where I would never be found but forever wander aimlessly after my abductor tired of my unceasing vociferations of anguish....  Without much acknowledgment of my worst case scenarios, Jake assured me that our Expedition with nearly 160,000 miles would start and get back to Carmacks devoid of problems.  I was not convinced.

Jake preferred for me not to stay in Carmacks alone with the boat & our gear.  Before our journey, we had read warnings to watch your gear and your back while camping near the Carmacks bridge area.  Locals also advised us not to leave our boat unattended, and for the past three days we felt like the center of attention for many in and around the Villiage of Carmacks.  I assured Jake that I could hold my own & our gear-loaded boat, especially with the Mossberg 500 and my KA-BAR Kukri Machete as my companions (that's a 12-gauge shot gun & tactical machete for those unschooled in weaponry like I was before this trip).  I had just survived nearly 3 weeks of the wild Yukon River; I wasn't going to let human beings threaten or impose afflictions upon me.  Still, Jake was not convinced.

I'm sure it wasn't that he thought I couldn't handle unwanted, pesky--and possibly harmful--visitors.  I just think he didn't want that experience for me (nor did I), but in my mind that was a situation I preferred to combat over a broken-down vehicle in the middle of nowhere--literally--with the inept ability to diagnose & repair anything much more than a flat tire, empty tank of gas, or dead battery.  I wanted to stay; the Sundowner and Carmacks promised familiarity and thus security in my mind.  With the impending 10:00 a.m. pickup time charging my anxiety, torturous what-ifs and the unknown fate of our Expedition and its return journey strangled my gumption.  Reasoning with Worst-Case-Scenario Girl & her extinguished common sense was hopeless, and Jake begrudgingly boarded the shuttle against his better judgment.  

Watching the white van with its canoe trailer in tow carry Jake away from me, I felt relieved, alone, and ashamed.  Explaining my relief is unnecessary.  I felt alone because I had not been farther than 50 yards from Jake since we left our home almost a month ago.  The ever-present option of communication ceased as the shuttle drove out of sight.  Contact would have to wait until his return.  Without a cell signal, I had no way of connecting with him, which meant no way of learning of his safe arrival to way of knowing if the Expedition started after sitting for almost 20 way of knowing if he encountered obstacles on the Klondike Hwy...and no way of alerting him if I was in trouble.  I could not leave the boat to place a call to Sports North (where we had parked the Expedition) to get a message to Jake or to see if he had arrived.  It was just me and the Sundowner on the edge of Carmacks until Jake's return.  I was ashamed because I felt as though I had let Jake down in some way.  Not mustering the courage to follow his reasoning made me feel out of sorts and ungrateful.  Jake is my captain, my love, my friend, my protector.  Never has his instruction or directions misguided me.  This trip reaffirmed my life & safety to be foremost in his mind.  And, this is how I repay him?  By not trusting this decision? 

We guessed the round trip to be around 4 hours, but most of our previous estimated driving times on this trip seemed to take up to twice as long.  I was left to ponder his whereabouts & fortune while I prepared the Sundowner and our gear for the long drive that was still before us.

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