Many probably think I'm a little odd in my need for solitude. For me, I need regular intervals of isolation, time to, in computer terms, "defragment." I guess that's what makes me a musher, as well as most who enjoy outdoor sports: a passion for solitude.
My spirit opens up every time I come to this place of solitude, locked away in the woods with a bunch of canine best friends. I couldn't be happier. The only thing that would make this perfect would be if my kids were with me, and if I could find a way to financially sustain myself here.
Doesn't anyone value a poetic female hermit with wanderlust?
Ah, I guess I ask too much.
I smile when I think back to five or six years ago when I first started coming up to the U.P. Then, I was baffled by the solitude, an observer, learning about this new area, about this sport, the people. And while I am still an observer learning, it is less about documentation now and more about having a job to do and feeling confident doing it. And the people feel like home to me.
I have a new appreciation every day of the intricacies and nuances of training for this sport. I am continually amazed at how in depth and multi-faceted training sled dogs is, and I learn so much from my dogs - about the sport, but also about life.
We arrived back in the great north woods very late Tuesday night (actually, very early Wednesday morning). Last night, we set out on our first 20 mile run of the season.
The dogs before our 20 mile run...
...the dogs, seventeen miles into our 20 mile run
The dogs were so happy to have new trails - hundreds of miles of trails. Today we completed 25 miles, and within about an hour or so of rest, the dogs looked as if they were ready to go again.
I am so proud of my team! Their enthusiasm, determination and drive is really something to behold. I am even more proud because it has taken me years of patience in building up this team from puppihood; five of my nine core dogs were raised and trained by me, so they have grown up with me and I am especially proud of them. Their work ethic is exemplary. When things get tough, even my smallest dog digs in deeper, pulls harder, strives for more. It seems that is something we all could learn from.
No matter where we place in our races this season, I am so proud to call them my teammates and be along on this beautiful journey with them.
It is late now, and the moon hangs in a cloudy black sky lazily. A few flakes of snow fall haphazardly from that black expanse, and I am sipping some 2006 Riesling and ready to nod off, satisfied.
Until next time, as always,