From the notebook:
“Today was a great day — such a change from yesterday. The terrain was easier, the weather was kinder, and it felt good. I decided first thing that I’d stay at the back of the group, so I could go slowly at a pace I felt comfortable with — and at first I was hesitant and nervous of falling off. Then someone behind me told me not to hold my dogs back, to let them run.
The best I can describe it is it felt like snowboarding — you relax, bend your knees and just slide with it. If anything it was a little easier than snowboarding, with the sled to hold on to. From there I was on top — I didn’t brake unless it was a downhill and I might run over a dog.
I passed half of the group on the straight, and the sun shone on the frozen lake. The patterns made in the snow looked like the curtains of the Northern Lights.”
I’d started the day with a knot of tension in my stomach, worried that the day would be like the day before — that I’d be constantly falling off and in pain. Someone must have been looking out for me, because it was about as different from the day before as it is possible to be.
I reassured myself that if I was at the back then nobody would be held up by me, and I could just enjoy the adventure without worrying about falling off. I can hardly describe the change it made when I just relaxed and let my rocket dogs run as fast as they can. As we cleared a hill my sled left the ground for a moment, and as always came back down with a thump, but instead of braking and slowing, I just flowed with it.
Almost the whole day was following snowmobile tracks over frozen lakes and rivers — you would only notice it was a lake by the fact that a large area was completely flat and free of vegetation. Occasionally, there would be a bare patch with no snow and underneath I could see the opaque blue of the ice.
Sledding across lakes was a great feeling — the dogs could run their hearts out, and I’d shout words of encouragement to them. I no longer felt that I had to stay at the back of the group, and let my dogs overtake over sleds if they could. Sometimes, we’d get into a race — and I think the dogs liked this even more, I’d think they were running as fast as they could, but when the sled beside us wanted to race I would start yelling “Go on boys! Faster, faster!” and they seemed to smile and find an extra burst of speed.
I felt like there was nothing I couldn’t do, and as the sun shone on me I could see a shadow of me and my sled racing along and keeping pace alongside me.