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A man turns off from the main trail in the Yukon (in Alaska) on an extremely cold, gray morning. He surveys the icy, snowy tundra. The cold does not faze the man, a newcomer to the Yukon, since he rarely translates hard facts, such as the extreme cold, into more significant ideas, such as man's frailty and mortality. He spits, and his saliva freezes in mid-air, an indication that is colder than fifty degrees below zero. He shrugs it off; he is going to meet "the boys" by six o'clock at the old claim near Henderson Fork. He has taken an alternate route to examine the possibility of getting out logs in the spring from the islands in the Yukon.
The man is arrogant and inexperienced; he has no idea what nature has in store for him, and he ignores the warning of man, beast, and nature itself.