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Backpacker Magazine – Winter, 1975

MORE THAN A DAY'S WALK: A story in 20 stanzas

A classic BACKPACKER story from the winter 1975 issue of BACKPACKER

by: Colin Fletcher

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The tundra steepens. Beneath my feet, small leaves are almost red, berries almost blue: each organ heeds our planet's pulse. Only a hundred yards to go. But no trees yet.

Behind, another rifle thumps And far beyond the Arco Circle lie cities shrouded, rivers damned and atolls immolated. Fifty yards, now. But can the brain slash arteries, defile the lungs, main vital organs--and survive?

I take the last few steps and gain my gap. The trees stand thick and dark, conical and elegant, softening the valley, reaching for the sky, standing as trees should. A river feeds this rich new land. The clouds part: sunlight streams.

So far, no shape has fanned my creature fears. No straight line mars. Beside the trees, a herd of caribou stands brown and calm. Here, all have standing.

I move beyond my gap, into the new land. Old mountains finally dissolve: a brain that cherishes its body can mature--and may transcend. I pass the quiet caribou. And now I stand among the trees.




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