Hiking Mountain Ranges, René Dhenin’s Yarn
By D.M. McGowan
He told me of a walk he made back in forty-one
With a daypack, rifle, knife, and handgun
He received a wire at Fort St. John, it said “Services required”
It specified the date then added, “All equipment, horses supplied.”
“From US Army Engineers,” he said, “I’d worked for them a lot,
With my horses and guiding them over hill and ‘round the bogs.
So I put my horses out to graze, stored all tack and gear,
And hitched a ride, me and a pal, early spring that year.
Rode the caboose from Dawson Creek, then Pullman car to Cowtown.
Partied there with folks we knew then railroad again coastal bound.
It took four boats along the coast, each one getting smaller
Then we walked a couple of miles, the Telegraph Trail to follow.
At Telegraph Creek there’s another message, addressed directly to me
And after days and weeks of travel, one I sure didn’t want to see.
Once again from the US Army, my services no longer required.
I’m off in the Coastal Mountains and before I’m hired I’m fired.
My pal says he’s off to the sea, without my work, no work to be found.
He’ll get a ride on some coastal scow and he’s for Vancouver town.
But I make my living with horses and tack, and it’s to the east not west
So we say our goodbyes, off he goes, and I head for a high mountain pass.
I’d walked a week or so, low on grub and getting gaunt,
When some mountain caribou appears; more meat than I really want.
I took a fat cow and did her up, skinning, stripping and eating my fill
Packed some fresh wrapped in hiding, but smoked jerky for most of the kill
Crossed many a creek and skirted muskeg, rivers as well, one or two
But coming down in the Omineca, there was the Finley a river I knew.
So I made a raft tied with bark, planning to float down to the Peace
But whitewater broke up the raft, lost it and most of my meat.
Back when I shot the caribou I’d made the hock skin into slippers.
On stretchers, they floated and I found ‘em but lost my boots in the river.
Had my rifle slung over my shoulder, pistol, and knife on my belt
So except for my boots and the meat, came out of it all pretty well.
Another day to dry myself and another week of walking
I’m not far from Hudson’s Hope and the supply boat’s docking.
So I caught a ride down river to home where all my equipment sat
So you see I missed the start of building the Alcan, maybe best at that.