Due West

A Poem for Forest Navigators

Orienteers are generally well-equipped to enter the forest and return safely. This is not true of everyone, however. We thought that you might enjoy this poem written by the President of the BC Mountaineering Club, as he reflects on the growing interest in back-country travel in BC from the general public….

Let Us Throw Caution To The Wind

And dance with wolves
Hike in flip flops
Lay siege to an unknown trail
and valley
in the waning hours
In autumn
the sun will fall with a sharpness
Not felt in summer
The bear
Will wander slow
In the underbrush
As the long sleep of winter nears
And in twist, cut or break
Or suddenly off trail without map or
What shall that small fanny pack yield?
Or the school daypack of the weekend
forest weakling?
Shall you be the mountain warrior
Of plenty
Whose first aid kit brims full
with hand chosen implements
to combat the fiercest of sucking chest wounds
in style and sport
or shall it yield a headlamp
mighty enough to conquer even the
deepest of nights
and blind those half a kilometer away
Shall your unexpected night stay be
one of comfort and laughter,
one of rest with your skilled and amply
provisioned brethren
Or rather
will you be the one to perform the walk
of shame
Through the forest night
With only your puny and pathetic cell phone light
As your guide
Do you assume the helicopter will be
there when the fog settles in deep
Or that your cell phone will always have reception
In any mountain valley?
Are you of sandals, red high heels,
running shoes or sturdy boots?
Come now
Show me your mettle
When the rain blasts
When the muck is deep and runny
Shall you triumph
Or shall you fall
For want of a decent rain jacket
And a plan
That was left behind
Bear food or prepared
The mountains just don’t care.

by Chris Ludwig (2020)

Originally published in the BCMC Newsletter, Volume 97, Issue 3 (2020)
Re-printed by permission of the author, and of the BC Mountaineering Club