Faces flushed, beet red. Cheeks and eyes slowly swelling with the warmth. Eyelids droopy with exhaustion. Shivering here and there, even though warmth surrounds us. This is the feeling of returning from several nights in the woods. We’ve been warm out there for the most part, touches of cold feet and hands here and there, but warm. It never matters though, there is always the thaw of those outer layers when you return, when the warmth surrounds you from the outside instead of coming from within.
The last two miles of the day seemed endless. The snow heavy, wet, and pulling at the sled like glue. The dogs and the humans looking at each other, all on the verge of the same thought, it’s hopeless. But, we rally together, a team. They pull, we pull, we push. We keep moving, giving bursts of encouragement to each other. Expedition mushing is rarely a Disney ride, it’s a team effort. We work together. We rely on each other to get from point a to b and to survive. That is the beauty of being out there. Those moments are the ones that make you grateful that you are not in it alone.
We’re back now. We made it, though not easy. The dogs are unloaded and happy in their houses. Chicken treats were well earned today. Good dogs, we have. Real good dogs. Now, the humans, we sit here together in the cabin, in front of the fire, tired. Fighting off sleep, letting our friends and family know we’ve returned. This is the feeling of success.
What a team. What a dream. These are the moments we are grateful for.