Tales From the Trail
|Piney takes a nap in a jacket. (Photo: Courtesy Hannah Moderow)|
Old Woman to Unalakleet
Danger on Ice
We left the Yukon River behind yesterday, and today we completed the overland section to the sea. From the pizza parlor in Unalakleet (yes, there is actually pizza in Unalakleet!) we looked out on the bay we will cross tomorrow. The vastness of the sea is intimidating after our 13 days of narrow trails and the meandering Yukon River.
Today’s route was relatively easy to mush, with a steady downward slope. Things got interesting, however, when we hit ice on the Unalakleet River. There is virtually no way to stop a dog team on ice unless you chop a hole in the ice to set the snow hook. This proved to be a difficult task.
The dogs were running fast downriver, and I realized we were supposed to turn right up the bank. I called “Gee” to the lead dogs, but they were determined to follow the river. Normally in this situation, I would stop the team, set the snow hook, and lead them to the right trail. Today, however, I couldn’t stop on ice. Frantic to make the turn, I grabbed my ax from the sled, and tried to slow the team enough to chop a hole.
In a scramble to stop, I dropped the ax. My heart sank, realizing that all chances of stopping were over without my ax. Luckily, after only a few minutes, some friendly people from Unalakleet drove by on a snow machine. I waved for help, and they guided my team to the correct trail. I didn’t get their names, but a big thank you must be said! I might still be mushing down the river without their help. Instead, I have a belly full of pizza, and it is time to rest up for the wild trail to Shaktoolik tomorrow.
Hannah Moderow is a musher and writer for Scholastic News Online.