Yukon

In March I flew to Whitehorse to mush at Sky High Wilderness Ranch. The trip requires a timely Covid clearance coming into Whitehorse then onto the event. The owner took us to liquor store to pick up libations before heading to camp. A Propane running cabin and self starting sauna, I could hear the dogs howling and yelping from afar. After a short introduction a group was leaving and brief hello was “Goodbye’. Chewy, Zia, Dudley and Koala managed to pull me around river’s edge and windy mountains. Every day was a series of getting to know your fellow mates and guide. Having mushed before I was just as scared (the picture above is from the first time) given the experience of dogs in heat and fighting. “more like wolves” as Visa the guide explained. Harnesses lessons and a quick point to a board which listed who was skinny and who had frostbite on their you know what. Lead dog gets two bowls of meat soup that when it’s was served looks like a crime scene, as you placed it directly on the ice. What remains remarkable in my thoughts is the men and women who do the Iditarod. 938 miles and the record 8 days 3 hours 40 minutes and thirteen seconds. I saw through the window a women who came looking for her dogs. Big Denali truck with all her dogs in tow minus the ones she was looking for. Michelle Phillips is her name and she is an Iditarod participant who was introduced by a boyfriend to the sport. She is also a former figure skater. I took notice of her shape. Strong and compact she is probably one of the most bravest people I’ve never met. Our Guide Christina was similar to most people who make the Yukon their home. She did the most work, having to be our motley crew guide then at the end of the day cook for all of us. I gave her a good tip and a hug. There was a music professor, a computer geek and a newly wed couple who were teachers in B.C. And none of them drank or went to sauna after the end of each day. The last night was games and drinks and the owner had so much fun but I think he came to eat. Gary is good sport and I’d love to go back and talk to Michelle. It’s a beautiful sport and thank you Cynthia for all that you do for us.

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