By the Skin of my Teeth in Alaska – David Metz
3000 words Adventure Story
‘By the Skin of my Teeth in Alaska’ is based on Dave Metz’s two months in Alaska in 2009 trekking with his two dogs. One of his dogs attacks a porcupine and is riddled with two hundred quills. With his dog facing serious infection and the three nearing starvation and exhaustion, they set out on a log raft down the Sheenjek River in an attempt to make their way out of the deepest reaches of the wilderness, in order to save themselves.
In the far flung reaches of the Alaska outback, weeks from civilization, my dog Will attacks a porcupine and almost dies. He comes traipsing back to camp after being gone an hour, where I have his brother Jimmy tied to an alder tree. At the edge of camp, he stops and stands in a slight stupor. I’m shocked by the number of quills in his face – probably around two hundred. They’re packed around his mouth, in his mouth, and even in his tongue. There are four or five quills that penetrate all the way though his cheek and lips like miniature spears.
The Starvation Curve – David Metz
6700 words Adventure
Based on the final leg of Dave Metz’s seven-month trek across Alaska, nearing Old Crow Canada. Low on food, exhausted, but with the end near, his dog Will runs off chasing a moose through the taiga and disappears. Thinking the worst, he digs in, prepared to wait for his friend a year if he has too.
From the Coleen River I hike farther into the bowels of the wilderness. My dog Will and I are beginning to starve. Immediately we enter ten-foot tall riparian brush and spend thirty minutes trying to make a hole. Eventually I break through and stumble onto some large tussock fields. I spend several hours crossing them while continuing my southeast course toward the Old Crow Range. A swan swoops down and lands in front of me and starts walking, probably leading me away from her young. “You’re either very smart or very dumb,” I say. I walk for an hour with this swan about fifty feet in front of me. She’s big and meaty-looking, but too majestic to shoot, especially when she’s risking her life for her babies.