Been there, done that

Northwest of Beaver Creek, past Canadian customs, 18 miles before US customs, Yukon, Canada
The Yukon gets more and more beautiful, full of silty blue glaciery streams and rivers that turn into lakes. The construction continues to be awful, truly awful. Crawling through mud, dirt, deep, rutted gravel. Following pilot cars, RV's, even a few other Westies (and dozens of motorcyclists, poor bastards) kilometer after kilometer of chunky, dead, destructed road. We see no construction, just lots of destruction.

We camp about 19 miles from the ALaska/Yukon border, down some gravel road that leads deep into the forest. The mosquitoes are thick, and we are hiding in the van, Beethoven blaring into the wilderness, when we have one of the most amazing experiences of this trip. Out of the treeline creeps a big, tan cougar-looking animal. Skip, I say, there's a COUGAR over there! The giant cat (at least twice the size of Querida, at least 80 lbs) skirts the treeline and circles the van, finally moving completely out of the trees. A Beethoven fan, probably, because he lingers in our campsite for ten minutes before moving on to hunt.

The dogs sleep on peacefully and blessedly, missing a chance to bark at the biggest cat I've ever seen (in the wild). We get better and better looks at this beast. He has a black bobbed tail (oops, must be a bob-cat, not a cougar or mountain lion) and a Harlequinn face. His facial features look blurry, really, as if he's existing in several dimensions at once, not coming across vividly in ours. Skip gets great pictures of him (I'm stunned and bouncing quietly around the camper, would be squealing in excitement but I don't want to wake the dogs). OK, well, Skip gets ONE great picture of him, and lots of ass, head turned away, etc. shots. But that one great shot is amazing.

The cat makes his rounds, ever vigilant, criss-crossing in mystical cat patterns as he makes his way across open ground, around the van, and into more woods across the road. Eventually he comes back and disappears into the treeline. HOly Wow, we are amazed at this experience. What a beast! This is probably our number one wildlife experience so far on this trip. Hyder, Alaska with its bears and its salmon, was a pretty amazing experience, too.

The sun sets (finally) and the sky is full-on-pink about 11:30pm...Skip and I make our last outside-to-pee trip together, backs to the van, the giant purple flashlight at-ready as our weapon. Too much togetherness, we laugh, gently and quietly, our eyes scanning the treeline for that big fucking cat. This is funny, ridiculous even, probably completely unnecessary, but we would rather laugh at ourselves than tackle that furry monster. I almost pee on my feet because I can't take my eyes off of the trees long enough to direct my streamÂ…


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