Tuesday, February 24, 2009

And what a Show it is...

"The time to hesitate is thru, no time to wallow in the mire." - J.D. Morrison
Hey everyone,
Man, do I have some interesting Karma. The ying-yang of life. I'm out in the woods for 9 days rallying around with the pooches, jamming Johnny Cash on the Ipod, enjoying the stars above and a dogteam possessed with love. Yet, what will it all be remembered for? What a shame that a beautiful picture could be so tragically tarnished. Did I purposely travel down the road? You bet I did. My german friends who are making a television show were right there on the road asking me if they could film, then giving me the thumbs up. Considering that the road runs parallel to the trail in that section I really did'nt understand that using a different one just 20 feet next to it was such a major infraction. Does everyone think I'd be cheating while at the same time hamming it up for the cameras? As for what some of the nasty things I'm hearing- were you there? Or is this world all about judging others by what we here thru the grapevine. I could really care less, what matters is that I have one of the most beautiful dogteams in the world that continuously kept my eyes welled up with tears as they ripped apart the Quest race speed record. You like that my 'soul brother' Lance?
Should I have been punished for the 10-15 minutes I shaved off of William's lead- sure. In reality that type of difference in time with so many miles left is rather insignificant. A few years back Lance and myself were fined 500 each for camping on the trail near scroggie. I presumed this time it would be in the same category. 2 hours- you have got to be kidding me? Then I'm instructed to not talk to the media- the officials decision would be announced after we left. Could you please keep you girlfriend from complaining as well Hugh. Then he asks me to shake his hand. Have a good day and enjoy yourself on Eagle Summit. That's the tragedy for me of this race. Upon reaching the upper part of the mtn., braving a raging groundstorm by walking my leaders thru it, I suddenly found that the trail ended- there were no more reflectors to be found. Shivering to death I came to the realization that my life was in danger, my left foot began to freeze up- not again!
The next morning in the darkness, some 7 hours later John Little who had camped out a few hundred feet beneath, came up and we discussed whether we should activate his rescue beacon. No markers? What the heck- where are all of those famous new tripods? Finally as dawn broke we noticed there was one just above the ridgeline - we had actually been camping on the drifted over trail ( Does this mean another penalty?) It took awhile but just as we pulled the last of the pooches to the top Sebastian came flying up from down below with William in tow. A snowmachiner was breaking out a new trail by this time as well. He had been instructed earlier after inquiring wether or not trail was needed, not to worry about it, things had already been taken care of. Considering how bad things had been for us this fella seemed pretty perturbed about this unneccessary situation we had been forced to deal with. My boot tracks were everywhere in the 2 plus feet of snow. The major problem was the abscence of decent reflectors on the tripods. I can deal with a horrific night in the blistering winds but I pity the rookie musher who is found in the same situation, all we need is for somebody to die up there- it could happen ya know. More reflectors! I'll do it this summer myself if need be, maybe Brent Sass could be my sherpa. One or two tiny white relectors isn't visible from hundreds of feet away, those slabs of wood need to be shining like the Empire State building.
After all that has happened I expect folks felt that I would be a bit pissed yet my feelings are euphoric. The pooches and I enjoyed a lovely journey, the highlight was coming into Circle off of the Yukon river watching the auroras rip apart the nightsky above, all the while my friend Jim's voice mellifously spouts off, "Come on baby light my fire..." Shooting a documentary at Karl Cochrane's cabin was surreal as well. Though I disagree with my friend William Kleedehn on some issues it was awesome to travel with him- what an amazing man. Our leader Annie is a goddess in lead, what a creature to behold. All the pooches performed well, 2 year old, Delilah and Wild Bill were as goofy as ever. Walter (Annie's brother) was solid as well as Watson. Maestro a beautiful blonde seven year old male finished his 8th thousand miler. (Think about that for a second) His mom, June- Mari ran 9 of them.
We'll be staying up here at our buddy Sam's in the hills just outside of Fairbanks. Will be back on the runners tomorrow afternoon looking at some additional dogs for Iditarod though most of the Quest finishers will already have a slot ensured. Regrets, there's definately been one looking back now. Lil' did I realize my decision to run the team on the safer, non rutted out snowmachine trail would become such a tragic affair. Thankfully our dawgs don't understand all of the beuracratic b.s. associated with this race. All they'll ever know, and I mean EVERYDAY- is that they are true champions. Does the craziness ever end? HHN
P.S. : Congrats to my buddy Sebastian, sorry it had to be under these circumstances.


At 9:46 PM , Blogger KMP said...

What a show indeed.

Can't imagine what it was like to live - it was crazy watching it unfold.

Following the sport of mushing, reading and viewing everything one can, results in some reasoned conclusions. From my vantage I see a number of control freaks involved in the YQ, and you are not a man easily controlled...

Good on you.

Thanks for the show;
Thanks for the Hugh Neff moments;
Thanks for keeping that fire alight; and
Thanks for keeping your fans advised.

We luv ya Hugh. God bless.

At 10:43 PM , Blogger barbarawoodland said...

Wow Hugh !!! That was a great race. Glad to see you do so good. Bummer about that penalty but..., Hope the Iditarod will be even better. Will be watching for sure.

See ya and congrats

Joel Mercier

At 10:44 PM , Blogger barbarawoodland said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 10:02 AM , Blogger Shof said...

Way to go Hugh! Way to go Annie! I am so excited for your 2nd place finish in the Quest. I followed it daily and kept your Amarillo fans advised about your progress. I loved this group of dogs from last year's Iditarod and I know that they will be true to you and work their hardest for you in the Iditarod. Patience and progress!

Ann Shofner

At 6:46 PM , Blogger Yellowstone Dog Sled Tours & Adventures said...

Following it online. it looked like you had a fantastic race. Congrats...you still almost caught him...even with the penalty!

Congrats again on a great race and putting together such a great team. In my eyes your the true champ this year!

At 5:32 AM , Blogger Susan said...

Hugh, Tamra, and the Dawgs

- WOW - way to keep us on the edge of our seats. We all know who the real winner is and you will show them in the Iditarod! It was amazing following it online and I can only imagine how great it was in real life.

We will be keeping you and the team in our hearts and prayers and following you during the Iditarod.

Keep up the good work and most importantly - HAVE FUN!

Gog Bless You,
Susan and John
College Park, MD

At 5:44 AM , Blogger Theo_musher said...

Good luck, Man, I like your style!

At 7:47 PM , Blogger Brent said...

Im there man!!!


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