From Talkeetna by bush plane to a frozen bog
under the white gaze of Denali.
“Snow’ll be too soft to land this afternoon,”
our pilot says. “See you in the morning.”
He points to a wrinkle in the field of snow.
“Kroto Creek.” And then he’s gone.
Check topo map, take compass reading.
Strap on snowshoes. East to Kroto;
follow the creekbed north. Smaller drainage
from the west. Map-check. Drainage
runs the wrong direction. Keep walking.
Landmarks don’t match map.
Study USGS quad-sheet top to bottom.
Find a stretch of creek that fits.
Six miles from where we ought to be.
No longer lost – we now know
where we are. But does our pilot?
Will he find us in the morning?
Follow our tracks back to frozen bog
and packs, survival gear,
honey and granola to feed us
for at least a day. End of March, dark
comes early. Night thoughts, taloned, fly.
The closest road’s a world away.