Imagine a race across a thousand miles of snow covered backcountry. Such a race would challenge the competitors’ endurance, fortitude, and survival skills. The 2015 Iditarod has begun in Alaska and it defines dog sled races.
I asked a musher why he puts himself through such an ordeal. His answer caught me by surprise. He spoke of the bond between the dogs and the musher. The musher tends to the dogs needs first. Only after the dogs are fed, injuries treated, and beds of straw made, does he rest. Still, he rarely sleeps more than a couple of hours at a time. By the end of the race, he has depleted himself to the point of hallucination and collapse.
But that wasn’t all he said about the Iditarod. With a twinkle in his eye he spoke of the long hours spent in wild places…places unchanged by man. As an old backpacker, I understood exactly what he meant. We have surrounded ourselves with civilization. The backcountry nurtures a part of us that is neglected in civilized places. Fortunately, there is still plenty of backcountry to fill our need for wild places.
To the places unchanged by man.