He wanted to give Rafe a fox since it seemed so appropriate. Rafe was cunning like a fox. He worked the rest of the day on the tiny figure and it gradually came to life in his hands. The carving was simple and recognizable as a fox although it lacked a lot of detail. The real work would be gradually smoothing the rich maple and polishing it to a fine finish. He was in the smoothing stages when Crow finally came out of the processing unit with his equipment and clothing.
Tobal was a little nervous about his first travel in deep snow and wanted to get started early. The days were getting shorter and there was only about six hours of travel possible during the day. They took extra rations from the food dispenser, enough to last each of them a week just in case there were problems. The nasty paste was divided into small cubes that could be added to water or eaten individually after they had been frozen. The benefit of the cold weather was many perishable food items would keep much longer, especially if they were frozen.
They started out using snow shoes and made good time. The sled pulled easily and they took turns pulling it. The snow had stopped falling and it was a bright day. It was almost too bright as he squinted against the glare. Tobal decided to keep to his normal travel path even though the snow suggested taking shortcuts over ground that now seemed smooth and snow covered. It was not worth the risk of falling into open holes or being trapped in some crevasse. At least following his normal path he would be familiar with any hazards that might lie hidden beneath the snow or ice.
Crow turned out to be a tough, wiry kid that could run circles around Tobal with or without a pack on his back. He was much lighter than Tobal and took to the snow shoes immediately. He said they were like ones his grandfather used in the winter. The boy seemed to have an endless supply of energy and crisscrossed the trail ahead of him checking out things that caught his interest. Crow had obviously spent a lot of time in the mountains and knew how to travel by landmarks. He had an instinctive awareness of direction even in bad weather. This worked against him at times. He did have trouble with the map and compass and understanding how to use them together.
"I know where I am", he complained to Tobal. "Why should I need to know where I am on this piece of paper?"
Tobal was frustrated, "See this 'X' ", he pointed at the map. "That is where my base camp is and where we are going. How can you find it if you canâ€™t read the map?"
"How can this piece of paper tell me where your camp is", Crow retorted growing angry in turn.
They finally compromised when Crow was able to understand the map and locate the different landmarks on it.
"If I take you to the spot you have marked will you leave me alone?" he asked resentfully. "Will you let me take you there my own way?"
Tobal agreed and to his great surprise Crow headed cross country toward his camp over terrain he had never been through. Crow seemed completely at ease in the rough terrain and several times showed him danger spots he had not noticed. Once Crow kept him from breaking through the ice as they crossed a small ice covered stream.