We pull up about 10ish and Burt greets us with a smile (probably the most beautiful smile I have ever seen. Seriously ladies, you want to see the epitome of outdoorsy dream boat then spend a day with this man). we change and sign wavers in his shed full of wood chips and dead things After packing the dogs in to his pickup truck, we make our way to the launch site. At the site we listen to his brief safety run down and begin harness the howling dogs. My toes are already cold and I'm worried they will fall off by the end of the day.
These dogs are ready, I think they might be born ready. They lurch the sled forward even though it's anchored by a fierce looking hook into the ground. The dogs are made to run and are aching to go. Burt leads with his daughter as co-pilot, I follow, George (the 70 year old man crossing experiences of his "Bucket List") follows me and Ter brings up the rear. It was incredible. The dogs rocket the sled forward the moment the anchor is out of the ground and then silence nothing but the sound of their padding feet and the sled gliding along the pristine snow. I almost cried.
Their barking and howling is forgotten as we make our way over the frozen lake. The dogs pull the sleds effortlessly and as soon as we come to a stop, they being to whine again. As we get going George comes crashing up behind me and falls. We come to bush and follow a winding path through the trees. My sled picks up speed and I can feel the dogs excitement as we crash along the trail. I turn a corner just in time to catch George go slamming into a tree and fall over. Suddenly I'm feeling a little more confident about being the one who isn't falling off their sled, though I do sympathize with good ol'George.
When we stop for lunch Burt gets of his sled, cuts down a tree and has a fire going in under five minutes (you know, just to add to his already long list of attractive skills and attributes). He brings out his supplies and begins to warm up some moose chili over the open flame. We are all hungrier then we expected to be. Then it hits me, oh god, I have to pee. It's now minus (-)21 outside, and I have to pee in the bush. I'm wearing underwear, long underwear, sweat pants, snow pants (or as they say up here, ski pants) and then a parka the size of England. This is going to be fun. I trudge away from the fire site and begin to disrobe. It actually wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I lay my coat down beside me inside up, then pull each layer down, hover my butt just over the 2.5. feet of snow on the ground and let go!
After lunch we see some rock paintings and then make our way back through the bush. Passing over a river where George comes to yet another crashing halt, we go by a moose carcass that is gradually being picked over by wolves, then return to the lake and back to the launch site.
When we unharness all the dogs and re load them into the truck, we take them home to their little houses, I thank Burt while choking back tears and he invites us in for coffee (into the home he built himself from the logs around his property, a two story log cabin).
We stop for dinner at a restaurant on the highway, and then George walks in. He meekly asked the waitress for a table for one and Ter invits him over to sit with us. He regales us with stories of the army in the 50's when he was stationed in the North pole. The isolation and cabin fever that tortured most of his fellow soldiers was astounding. His secret mission intercepting Russian messages and translating them was incredible. George now builds ice sculptures for the winter events in his town (12 feet high). He made me regret feeling so disdainful of his blunders during the day. Ter bought his dinner and we made our way home.
What a day! If only White Fang and Kitche were there with me, or I had remembered to pretend they were there with me. And I will remember this day for the rest of my life.
Unless you know, in a year or so I become a trapper and have a team of my own and we make our way across Canada.
....Hey, it could happen.