A rifle gets cold when it hasn’t been shot, so cold it freezes to your bare hands when you’re trudging through knee-deep snow falling so thick you can’t see right in front of you. There’s tracks on the ground, and they’re not a man’s tracks, but they’re the only things to follow.
Thick fur coats, blankets, tents, food, fire; who could survive here without these things?
Someone says he must have died somewhere far behind, someone else says no, his body would’ve been found, someone else says to keep moving, it’s too cold to stop unless it’s to make camp. They say he killed two Mounties, they say he’s got to be caught.
He’s not a man, he’s the Mad Trapper of Rat River, a ghost. Can’t be caught. Hard to believe ’til you’re after him.
There’s new tracks now, a man’s, from the caribou tracks to the trees. That’s how he’s been hiding, that’s where he is now. Who knows how long ago, his footprints are almost snowed over. A few hours, maybe, but they’re deep and they’re straight, so he’s not tired. He’s running. Seventy-two miles, he’s still not tired.
The ghost goes to a canyon. The trees are thick, and it’s too dark to see anything but the tracks leading down there. Someone says to set up camp at the top, there’s mountains surrounding him, he can’t go nowhere without coming back this way. A storm hits. It’s gonna be bad.
Even with a fire, it’s the coldest night in months. Nobody knows how he’s staying warm or what he’s been eating. How’s a man on the run find time to hunt, to dry his clothes, to build a new shelter each night?
A rifle is fired, it wakes everyone up, it kills the man on watch. Somewhere down in the shadows, the Mad Trapper is fired upon, and at the top of the ridge, given away by the campfire, two more Mounties die.
In the daylight, his tracks go from the top of the ridge, down through the trees, to the face of the mountain. There they stopped, nowhere to go. The ghost either vanished or the man climbed up, at night, during a blizzard, rifle in hand.
Everyone says he’s a ghost.