Although it was nine o'clock there was no speck of sunlight. But that did not bother him. The text states "..a subtle gloom that made the day dark, and that was due to the absence of sun. This fact did not worry the man."
While the man is walking across the lake he puts his dogs life to walk in front to see if the ice breaks. His dog almost falling completely into the water he takes a few steps forward and slips into a whole where his feet get wet. He rushes on getting out to start a fire to warm him up.
The man ends up under a tree where he builds his fire. He took advantage of the tree by breaking its branches to put in the fire not realizing that a patch of snow was about to fall onto his fire. Minutes of him warming up after the accident the snow falls onto his fire and completely turns it off.
He realizes that his hands are starting to numb up. He tries to get the matches that he has and attempts to light them up but ends up dropping all of them. He succeeds but struggles on picking them up. He turns on the matches but they all fell on the snow. He had no other alternative but to get where the boys were. He was freezing. "He did not expose his fingers more than a minute, and he was astonished at the swift numbness that smote."
While the man is walking his body begins to loose strength. Not only is he freezing but he's beginning to get frost bite. He suddenly confirms with the fact that he cant be defeated by nature. He lays down on the snow with his dog.
Man finally understood that nature will always win so he peacefully closed his eyes and soon went into a deep deep sleep. His dog ends up leaving. "This time the shivering came more quickly upon the man. He was loosing in this battle with the frost. It was creeping into his body from all sides."