Friday, April 24, 2009

A Journey Like No Other

"Some say it's just a part of it. We've got to fulfill the book..." --Robert Marley

Good day, eh?
Each morning I awake around 5:30ish, not out of necessity but curiosity. What awaits us this time around? One of the beautiful parts about living in the wilderness is never living the same day twice. Sure, we have our daily chores to perform yet the pooches' antics typically leave us in hysterics. Each morning I enjoy a cup of joe while staring out the window watching Annie and Amos's litter of 6 month old pups playing with one another. Mind you, the rest of the dogs are still in their houses snoozing away- or at least trying too. Angelina, Amelia, Aussie, Alfie, Archie and Atlas are all awesome acrobats.

Pooches are fed by 8am, then it's on to scooping poop, puppy walks and training runs. This time of year we spend even more time out in the dogyard. The warmer temps. are melting the snow constantly revealing daily teasures to unearth. Straw must be raked up and brought to the dump, it's very important to keep everything as clean as possible for the overall health of the yard. Up here though we call 'work' play- that way everything seems more enjoyable. John Baker is one of the top mushers in the world, he's a native from the village of Kotzebue up on Alaska's northwest coast. While visiting a few year's back I asked John how often he feeds his pooches. "Usually 3 times a day Hugh, the more time I can spend in the yard with them the better!" Sayings such as this are never forgotten- we call it 'Wisdom'.

Still snowing up here so we'll keep straw in the pooches' houses for a while yet. Ice on the lake is still thick- we try to go on as many walks on it as possible while we still can. The big dilemma in our yard right now is "Flame", he's a 6 year old we got from Lester Erhart many moons ago. He's finished 3 Iditarods, usually in lead though last year his shoulder was injured thus he was unable to compete. (Of course he wasn't too happy about this but there's always next season.) So the 'problem' is that above Flame's house we have a Calgary Flames hockey team logo. (our next litter of pups will have a Luongo and Bertuzzi) What's wrong with this? Well, the Flames just happen to be playing my Chicago Blackhawks who actually have a decent team for once. As a sports junkie I am completely confused. I'll tell you what though- the more I see of this sport- the ACTION- the more I enjoy watching it compared to other professional events that are getting slower by the year.

It's funny how words or phrases can become stuck in your brain, becoming a part of one's psyche. In dogmushing terms this can be used as motivation for the future. One of my favorite mushers to watch is Ramy Smyth- he's an animal when behind the sled flying around with his pooches on the trail. His father Bud is probably the most underrated 'Dogman" in the history of the sport. We enjoyed spending a week together with Ramy and his brother Cim before last year's "Sweepstakes" race in Nome. He described how his dad taught them to not only do their best but enjoy the journey as well. After this year's race at the banquet in Nome Ramy gave me some advice as well, "Don't give up your day job Hugh". You can count on that buddy- nothing compares with the life we are able to enjoy each day up here in the mountains. I just wish that one of these year's Ramy will learn to race in the YukonQuest as his brother and wife have.

The Quest and Iditarod are wondrous journeys we are so honored to be a part of each year. Nothing compares to our own personal journey however. That's what the general public doesn't understand- "How can Hugh be so happy? Where does all of that energy come from?" Experience. The reason a 1,000 mile race is a walk in the park, no matter the frozen body parts or ripped apart face, is knowing where we came from. As my friend's from the band STOV would sing, "Out of the mud I crawl, out of the slime-I climb- Evolution." Think about it- in '95 we stepped off the plane with a few hundered dollars to our name. Spent our 1st few weeks in Alaska sleeping under some bushes alongside a pond in Anchorage. Have lived in shelters, received weekly food rations from charities, wondered where we would be living the following week yet somehow- we're here! Back then I would never have believed that within a few year's I would be able to compete in a 1,000 mile race let alone 15 of them! Who knows 'why' but I know how-Perserverance. Where there's a will, there's definately a way no matter the hardships encountered everyday. In life we must all remember that not only do we smile with our teeth but our EYES.
Enjoy the view, Hugh


At 3:01 PM , Blogger rambn said...

I can't imagine living in the wilderness working with dogs all day. What a life. awesome.


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