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A grueling nightime slog ahead of me and very little to no light, this was
not good.  Heck, I had never even been to Camp Gomes-a-lot before, I only
had Jumpin' Jimmy's vague directions to guide me.

I switched of my headlamp to conserve what little power was left.  Soon my
eyes adjusted, "This might not be so bad after all," I thought.  Think
again.  After an hour or so of skinning up the main trail I reached the
turn-off into the darkness.  I could see Jumpin' Jimmy's snowcat parked
nearby, their tracks would be my guide, but I would have to use my light.

I stopped briefly and shed my shell and vest.  Steam poured of my upper
body like an over-heating car.  Brrrrr, it sure was cold.  Onward I
trudged, my heavy pack occassionaly throwing me off balance.  Drive on.
Off in the distance a wolf or coyote let out a howl.  Another answered
with a lonely call. Drive on.  As I my light further dimmed and the trail
grew less and less distinct I shared the lonelieness of the pair of
distant, I hoped, canines.  Would I be able to make it?  "Ah, this must be
the crooked branch Jumpin' Jimmy was talking about.  Left and up"  I
flicked up my climbing bars, left the lightly beaten path and entered the
thicker woods, climbing with much effort.  I was starting to drag.  Drive
on.

Another hour passed.  "Straight up til you hit the flowing brook then
right.  About another half-mile." I heard Jim's words in my head.  No
brook yet and I had been slogging away for at least two hours.  9 o'clock
had come and gone.  My boots and bindings moaned in the crisp, cold air.
I was glad that it was a still night.  A wind would have been deadly.

Another half-hour passed, finally up ahead I saw the brook, but barely, my
light was all but dead by now.  Reaching the brook, I turned right.  How
was I going to find the camp in complete darkness?  Drive on.  (Hope for
the best.)

Another hour passed.  Quarter of eleven.  What was that big black object
in front of me?  Could it be the camp?    YES!!!  When I finally had my
skis off and was inside, I collapsed on the floor.  Thoughts turned to
sleeping right there.  Heck, I had plenty of food.  NO.  I still had work
the next day and I would soon cool down considerably.  So, I gathered up
my strength and started to unload my pack.  By now my light was completely
dead and I was working by feel.  "Okay, beer over here, kielbasa over
there, whiskey there, pork and beens here, etc."  The pack was empty.  I
was cold.  It was 11:30 p.m.  Time to head home.

I latched shut the camp's door, removed my skins, folded them up and
stashed them.  Hat pulled down around my ears I started blindly downhill,
trying to follow my previous tracks, but in vain.  Dropped into a tele
turn.  A thin layer of dry, light snow blanketed a fast, virtually
unbreakable crust.  Another tele-turn.  I was gathering speed rapidly.

WHAM!

To be continued...

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