The bad news shot at us like an arrow out of the sky. The crackling voice on the other end of the cell line dryly announced that no Cessna 185 was currently equipped with landing skis, despite our earlier arrangement with the airline. If we wanted we could still charter a twin-engine deHavilland Otter, but at the cost of $3,000: double the earlier agreed-upon price. I hung up the phone and sank my face into my hands. Jonand I had designed our Saskatchewan itinerary around this flight into the Boreal Forest and we knew we couldn’t afford for this to go wrong. We had already flown to Saskatoon and driven a rental 4×4 half-way to our destination in the far north of the province. Now the plan was falling apart at the worst possible time.
I pushed aside my mocha, scattered our travel receipts on the small coffee shop table, and crunched a few numbers on a napkin. I mumbled unconvincing “plan B’s” to Jon, then asked to borrow his iPhone again. I soon learned that a different company had a Cessna on skis. Because the new pick-up point was nearer to us the flight to Ron and Johanna’s would be longer and costlier than the original plan: $2,700 for the round trip. But it was still cheaper than three grand and it required less driving on snow-choked backcountry highways. We had no alternative.