Friday, 17 March 2000

Galena to Nulato

Just like Spud, the vets figured Buddy’s shoulder wasn’t very serious and a little rest would put him back in the team (they were right, of course). Everyone else was looking and feeling good.

What a treat Galena was. The checkpoint was located in a hotel, so in addition to lots of food and a warm place to hang out – there was real beds and showers!! I took advantage of both! In the bathroom, I got a good look at the frostbite on my stomach. What I saw wasn’t good, it was infected and oozing. Rather disgusting! I cleaned it up as best I could and put some antibiotic ointment on. I vowed to start watching and taking better care of it.

I left Galena in the early, early morning hours. The dogs left well, but I made an error leaving the checkpoint and got on the wrong trail. I knew almost right away that I had made a mistake, but I still traveled for about ½ mile down to see if the trails joined up. I stopped and turned the dogs around. I could see instantly that I was in trouble – the dogs thought we were going back into the checkpoint. They smoked back down the trail, but when I called them onto the right trail heading back out onto the river they balked. The next few hours were a battle with little forward progress. I had put the idea of turning around into their heads and they weren’t going to give it up easily. We had some amazing tangles and messes as they kept trying to whip around and go back to Galena. Eventually, we came to a agreement and got moving out towards Nulato.

Around mid morning the wind picked up considerably. The swirling snow across the River made for a cool visual effect, but the wind bit into our faces. I knew we were getting close to the checkpoint, small signs of civilization, such as cabins every now and then and snowmachine traffic told the tale. I began to get dozy in the warmth of the day, but had no idea how tired I was until my head bounced off the ice of the Yukon River. Ouch that hurt! And to make matters worse, the dogs were headed down the trail without me!!! I called, I begged, I pleaded – I’m almost positive I could hear the dogs snickering under their breath as they continued down the trail without me. When they were about ½ mile ahead of me, they tired of their game and slowed to a stop. They were all watching my plodding progress down the river with obvious amusement. I had visions that I would get an arm’s reach away from the sled and they would take off again! About that time an Eskimo man on a snowmachine showed up. Was I okay? Did I need a ride? I told him I was fine and I would continue my walk, but if he could just stop at the sled and drop a snowhook into the ground – I would be very grateful. He did and with a wave was back on his way.

Ten minutes or so later the dogs and I showed up, together, in Nulato. As the checker signed me in, he commented that he heard I had done some walking out there. I was amazed, after all it had just happened. ‘What did that man do?’ I asked, ‘Run straight in here to squeal on me?’. I was informed he had and with a wicked grin the checker told me he had come up with a new name for me – Karen ‘Runs-instead’.  Very clever!

With my swollen eye from my crash, still smarting from the struggle on the ice and the disappointing run in – I was not in good spirits. I needed to talk to Mark. I ended up not only talking to him, but also getting a pep talk from Lynda Plettner and a particularly helpful call from Jamie Nelson who was in Unalakleet. I am so lucky to have the support crew I have! By the time I settled in for a nap – things were looking much better!

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