Each time the gale picked up outside the dust covering the floor would lift up in small eddies and live once more as tiny tornadoes or dust devils. It had taken every ounce of energy to reach this cabin after the plane went down. He had first seen it from the air as he crossed the canyon at 10,000 feet. That’s when the first gusts of the gale had dropped the plane in a dead air pocket. It was the fuel pump he thought as the engine stalled. It had happened before and now the lead electrical wire had come loose or god forbid it was the feeder hose filling the engine compartment with aviation fuel. He’d know which when he’d hit the canyon floor.
The last person to set foot in the cabin must have been a decade ago, about the time the federal government had evicted the squatters from the high timber areas. Nature was reclaiming this place as fast as it could with mold and rot everywhere. If it were summer, he thought, there’d be marigolds growing through the loose floorboards. Now it was only the permafrost exerting its power over the cabin ruminants. He had sweated through his clothes and he could feel the frigid temperature wicking down to his bones.
Each passing hour the gale picked up intensity. The wind got pushed over the peaks on either side of the canyon turning the canyon floor into a wind vortex. There was talk long ago of turning the winter run off into a wind surfing course, but the feds wanted nothing to do with such a risky scheme.
He found a small cast iron stove and a small bag of charcoal. He carried no matches and the safety flares went up with the plane 30 seconds after the craft came to rest between two boulders. He’d need more than ingenuity and luck tonight.
He’d make it to sunrise but only if he could light the charcoal.