“Welcome to your home for the next few days,” said Lisa Dewhurst before giving me a hug.
Our host in Whitehorse, Jocelyn Barrett, put us in touch with her friend Lisa weeks before we were to arrive in Teslin.
Mac and Smokey enjoyed their rest on the shores of Teslin Lake while we heard stories from Lisa’s husband, Darcy, an avid hunter and trapper from the Teslin First Nation.
“After you harvest your moose, you place your gun in the bottom of the fridge, then you put the meat on top … you only get your gun when the meat is done,” said Dewhurst while we ate a delicious moose rib, mashed potatoes, and salad dinner.
Darcy explained how important it is in his culture to respect the wildlife that inhabit this great land. To his people, it is the only way to ensure a sustainable future.
“We depend on the fish we catch and the animals we hunt to survive… It has been this way since the beginning,” said Darcy before he explained how a moose will feed his family of four for a full year.
From the Dewhurst’s quaint log cabin we rode to the bridge that had kept me awake at night for months.
The Teslin Bridge is a 584 meter-long cantilever bridge. It’s the longest span in the Yukon and has a terrifying metal-mesh deck. Since I first crossed it, two months back while driving north to Alaska to begin the journey, I wondered how the hell I would get my two mustangs to cross this beast. Horses hate seeing through the surface they have to walk on and hearing loud noises when their feet touch the ground.
Now here I was, standing only a few feet from this metal monster.
In preparation for this moment, I purchased some rubber placemats along with four rolls of duct tape. Using a doll-sized pair of craft scissors, I cut the placemats in the same size as the hooves and with the duct tape, I fastened them under their shoes like booties. I knew they wouldn’t last the nearly half a kilometer, but I just needed them to muffle the sound that first step the horses took onto the metal deck would make.
Taking a deep breath, I started the walk towards the metal monster leading Mac and with Smokey close behind him. When I stepped onto the bridge, a drip of sweat ran down my spine. The big dun followed me onto the metal deck, but the small grey did not.
“No, no, no… there’s absolutely no way I’m walking on this thing,” I could see Smokey thinking to himself as he looked down at the wide Teslin River flowing with force beneath the mesh square holes.
I looked back and motioned for Lisa, who was helping us get across safely, to drive her white SUV closer to Smokey’s hind quarters. I knew I didn’t have much time. If he thought too much about it, we would never cross that bridge.
“C’mon buddy, step on the bridge,” I said in a soft voice while putting some pressure on his lead rope.
When the car was about five feet from him, and with Mac already standing calmly on the bridge at this point, he stepped forward. Without looking back I marched forward. In a few strides the metal ate through the rubber placemats and the duct tape, and the noise the horses’ shoes made hitting the deck was petrifying. We sounded like a loud locomotive engine chugging away.
It took us about 10 minutes to get across the Teslin Bridge and when we finally stepped onto the other side, my shirt was glued to my back with sweat.
“Yaaaaaahooooooooooooooo!” I yelled, celebrating another obstacle now behind us.