Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lifestyle: ain't nothing but a mush thang

This is my shower in the cabin.

Living with sled dogs is a lifestyle that is often not for the faint - or squeamish - of heart.

Each day, twice a day, meat is brought in and thawed to form a sort of soup for the dogs. Those buckets and cooler are full of this meat broth. Each day, I rise to make a fire and work to keep it going so the cabin stays toasty. Each day I spend many hours outside in weather most would shy away from with my team.

There are often unsavory things lying around in the cabin at any given time, like wet booties hanging on a clothes line I have strung across the entire width of the cabin, wet mittens and boots. When space is a premium like it is in a 16x20 one-room cabin, function precedes fashion.

And then there's unsavory thoughts. 

Like, right now, I am more concerned with the state of my dogs' poop than a first-time mother with a newborn. It is said that the Inuit people have one hundred terms for snow.  I think mushers have one hundred terms to describe various states of poo. I've concluded that my tiny, 10-dog kennel is currently experiencing its first bout with a virus this season. I will spare you, dear reader, from the detailed descriptions of said virus.

Tonight, the snow just keeps falling and the wind howls. It is -3 degrees outside, and there is a fabulous moon dog around the moon - a halo that only appears on very cold nights.

Just hooking up a team in this kind of snow is a work out that might make Jillian Michaels weak. Trudging through knee-deep tundra, harnessing, and hauling rambunctious sled dogs over to the gangline leaves me sweaty despite the frigid temperatures. Today, the dogs and I went out on what was supposed to be a fast 10 mile "fun run." There has been so much snow, however, we ended up slogging through the slowest 10 miles of breaking trail ever!

Non-mushers could never likely fathom the dedication and sacrifices we mushers make for this sport. It is a lifestyle, as they say, not a hobby. It changes you. I've seen some of the most beautiful sights of my life behind the butts of 10 of my best friends, however. It hasn't always been easy, but it has definitely always been worth the ride.

Here is a clip from breaking trail today. Enjoy!

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