The famous short story "To Build a Fire" by Jack London tells of a man, accompanied by a dog, struggling for survival in forbidding primeval wilderness. Its setting is "spruce timberland" in the Yukon Territory of Canada. The land is hidden under several feet of snow, and the man is so far north that the sun has been absent for days. The temperature is about 75 degrees below zero, cold enough to freeze spit before it reaches the ground. The man is following a trail that continues a long way through this wilderness, as London explains:
This dark hairline was the trail—the main trail—that led south five hundred miles to the Chilcoot Pass, Dyea, and salt water; and that led north seventy miles to Dawson, and still on to the north a thousand miles to Nulato, and finally to St. Michael on Bering Sea, a thousand miles and half a thousand more.
The man is making only a day trip, though, and expecting to arrive at "the old claim on the left fork of Henderson Creek, where the boys were already" by six o'clock in the evening, shortly after dark. The man travels through level stretches of woods cut by small creeks and streams, some of which contain treacherous small springs that never completely freeze over. One of these springs, which the man stumbles into, proves to be his downfall.