It is cold.
When I inhale, the mucus in my nose freezes, only to thaw again when I exhale, the vapor crystalizing on my beard.
The numbing cold invites me to rest while the gentle pain of inhalation reminds me of the consequences of breaking stride and resting.
The snow gently slopes to the frozen river, and I cross, ears piqued for the telltale sounds of the death that waits below my snowshoes. It is only thirty meters or so to the other side.
Half way across. I smirk as I remember, "To Build a Fire." It is not quite so cold as it was in that story, but it is cold.
Death is the natural result of life, and it gives me great pleasure to deny Death while placing myself just outside his cold grasp. One day, it will be over; there will be a mistake: an unheeded warning, an unheard silence, an unseen emptiness. I only hope to die quickly rather have the gnawing beast within slowly suck the flesh from my bones and leave me sunken eyed in a hospital bed gasping for air while tubes push fluids in and suck fluids out. No, rather the ice should collapse beneath my feet!
The mixture of bravado and stoicism keep my mind focused, and the river is now behind me. Two more hours of daylight. Three more hours before I reach the coast where I will rendezvous with Marshall, who will have our assignment. The isolation of Arctic Norway has been good. Twelve months at a listening post intercepting messages and sending coded messages to Ottawa. Now, someone else will take on this task. I am glad that our Philosopher Kings have seen fit for me to move on; happy that my old tracks have faded; rejoicing that Corporal will once again rise from the dead to strike Canada's enemies.