The next morning, I stepped out of my tent and almost fell. A jolt of pain flashed trough my knee at every step. I had to bite my teeth whenever I put weight on it. I was not even sure why. It was probably strained from the last days or something similarly mundane.
Using my poles, I could still move, but I was much slower. Besides, if it got any worse up to the point that I could not walk any more, I would be stranded out here, almost 50 kilometers from the next soul. Not the most enticing prospects.
I shortly contemplated making my way back instead of pushing on to the wreck but decided against it. Apart from the most obvious reason ‐ that I was not willing to give up so short of the goal ‐ it was just a small detour compared to the whole way and it would be possible to seek shelter in the wreck and rest for a day or two. And should my knee actually get worse, I would be easier to find at the wreck than somewhere in the field.

It took the whole morning to descend the few hundred meters to the bottom of the valley. However, the thicker air seemed to do wonders to my mind: During my lunch break I remembered that my first aid kit contained an assortment of painkillers. Things went a bit smoother from there on, but I did not traverse the mountain until late afternoon.
As I walked along the mountainside, I expected the wreck to show up any second. Yet it did not. Yesterday's story seemed to repeat itself and I was beginning to wonder whether I had just ruined my knee for nothing. But after spotting an embarrassing amount of rocks that looked surprisingly similar to the tail fin of an airplane, I noticed a bright sparkle on the mountainside. I had made it! I had finally found the C-47!

It was hard to believe that she had rested at this spot for two thirds of a century. Had somebody told me that she had went down one or two years ago, I might not have doubted it. The aluminum hull was bright and shiny, there were only very few traces of vandalism and even the fabric straps on the inside were in good shape. The only things showing the age was the paint flaking off in unusual discolorations and the remains of tin cans in and around the plane, rotten and corroded beyond recognition.
The engines, the doors and the instruments had been removed, the cockpit was but an empty shell. Parts of the floor had been ripped out, most of the windows were shattered and the immediate aftermath of the crash was painfully evident. And still, this was by far the most pristine wreck I had ever encountered.

I found a sheltered spot for my tent between some boulders just before a wall of stormy clouds rolled in. I could hear the drumming rain for the better part of the night.
When I woke up the next morning, the fly of my tent was frozen solid. The scrawny blades of grass that grew up here were encased in pillars of clear ice.
The clouds had descended during the night and caught me and my tent in the fog. Despite sleeping only a stone's throw away from it, I had trouble locating the plane. I did not dare to move further than a few meters from my tent. I might not have found it again.

My plan of spending some days at the wreck quickly went down the drain. I only had a few days to get out of here before search and rescue would be sent after me. And I had to account for my injury, I would be slower than planned. Hiking in such visibility was beyond question, walking straight off a cliff would have been the most likely outcome. For as long as the fog lasted, I was stuck. If I wanted to make it back in time, I had to grab the first chance to get off that mountain.

In the early afternoon, the sky slowly ripped open. I allowed myself a few minutes for taking pictures and, after saying farewell, descended down into the valley.
The weather was much harsher than the days before. As soon as I stepped out of the shadow of the mountain, I was hit with a fierce wind that turned every few seconds. I could only move forward when the wind was coming from the side. Usually I managed to take a few steps before a gust suddenly tackled me from the front. It was pointless trying to fight it, so I just leaned onto my poles, tried not to be blown over and waited until the wind changed again.
After about an hour, something caught my eye: the bag that I kept the pepper spray in. It was empty. I turned around, searching the moss. Nothing. I could feel my throat turn dry. I had loosened the bag after the bear encounter so that I could grab the spray more quickly. The wind had yanked it around and I had lost it without noticing. It was a dark green can, there was no way I would find it again. My only means of self defense had been carried away by the wind. Why the heck would someone even paint pepper spray cans in dark green?

The idea of another encounter suddenly became a lot more uncomfortable. I decided to counter by making more noise. In my understanding, this could have two possible outcomes: It chased the bears away, which was good. Or it could attract a bull moose that felt that I had violated its territory, which was not as good. However, I had only seen old droppings so far, no moose. Bears clearly won out this time.
For the next three days I yelled “Hello bear!” whenever a few minutes had passed. I tried to add a little bit of variety in the beginning, but that did not make it much more entertaining either, so I went back to “Hello bear!”. It quickly became automatic. I made a mental note to immediately lose that habit once I was out of the bush.

After finally getting out of the wind, I set up camp and forced down my food. I had made the mistake to skimp on variety and grew more and more tired of it every day. I probably would not be able to eat peanut butter for a while. The ice cold water from the river hurt my teeth and I wondered how I had been able to wash myself in it just a few days ago.

The following day started out windless and with sunshine and then quickly turned into the exact opposite. Standing at the bottom of a valley, I could see snow clouds moving onto the pass that I had to climb.
Pushing on meant that I might have to deal with pretty nasty weather if I could not make it down the other side in time. Setting up camp and waiting for things to settle would be the safer option but risked having my camp and maybe even the rest of my way covered in snow. Finding a path was difficult enough as it was. The thought of having to navigate through fresh snow did not exactly make me tingle with exitement. So I pushed on.
Grinding up the mountainside, the visibility grew worse. Wet snowflakes were smacking on my rain jacket and started to paint my surroundings in a dirty white. It did not take long until my boots resigned and my socks were wet.
To my relief, I could still make out my path when I reached the top. The snow soon turned to rain as I descended. Not my favorite kind of weather for a stroll in the Yukon wilderness, but under the circumstances I decided to be happy about it. At least I could see where I was heading.

I spent two more days walking through constant rain before I reached the highway. Since the maximum dose of painkillers only covered half of every day, I had limped along most of the way. Small muddy slopes suddenly turned out to be a challenge. I was soaked and my damp skin was chafed open where it touched the backpack. At every turn, I expected to see the exit of the forest. I racked up a respectable number of disappointments before I was finally right.

Coming out of the forest, I turned around and tried to see what I had made my way trough. In the distance, I could spot the mountains I had descended from. They were covered in a thick, white layer of snow.
Once again, I walked into the residents yard ‐ this time deliberately. I wanted to let him know I had made it back. And I wanted to end this trip where it had started.

Later, on my way back to Whitehorse, I heard the news on the car radio. Some hundred kilometers to the east, a man had been killed by a grizzly bear.

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