I start up the ridge. The wind blowing straight at me has piled up the snow on this side of it. Already Sophie’s tracks look like footprints on a beach after a wave has come in. I try to move faster, where I should probably be slowing down. I catch one of the toes and tumble forward. I remember something I read about getting caught in an avalanche, something about swimming, but it doesn’t do me much good because I can’t move. And I guess this is different from an avalanche, though right now not all that much. The snowshoes feel like they’ve wrapped around each other. Snow’s blowing down my neck, and I feel a bulwark of it building already against the top of my head. I get one foot free, but the other one’s not co-operating. I twist sideways and reach down and realize then that the binding’s either released or – no! – it’s broken. And where the hell is Sophie?
Another minute or two and I get it loose from the snow. I come up with creative curses for the broken strap, but then I surprise myself by getting it secured it well enough to hold the boot if I move carefully. I pick myself up, round the top of the ridge and start gingerly down the other side. Sophie’s tracks are now completely disappeared. It’s really coming down. I can see maybe twenty feet ahead. No sign of Sophie. The strap comes loose again. It takes me a few more minutes to reattach it.
As I re-enter the trees, I start cutting to the left as she pointed. There’s no landmarks, nothing but trees, so I’m just guessing. Branches reach out at me menacingly, tugging at the flaps on my jacket. The snow pricks my face like needles, numbing it. The rest of me is well protected, thanks to Sophie’s gear, even if it feels like I’m carrying two week’s supplies in my backpack. What the hell did she put in there? I pause for a moment under a pine tree with low-hanging branches providing refuge close to the trunk where the snow falls away. I try to catch my breath. It comes out in puffs that eddy for a moment in next to the tree before swirling away. [pp. 179 – 180]