**Caution lots of adult words to follow**
Fear, abandonment, cold, fear.... those are a few things that went through my head. I even let out a scream "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" as I watched my team slowly move away from me, sled upright and down a wide open river trail. "Cole, baby come back" "Cole, Two-Step boys please come back" I said in the silence of the trail, as I fell to my knees and started sobbing. What the fuck was I going to do. I was tired, I didn't know where I was exactly and I wasn't on the trail I was supposed to be.
I sat there for I don't even know how long... All sense of time was gone. Did it matter? I'm probably going to die. This is how stupid people die. Not even stupid people. This is how people die. I am in the middle of Alaska. This is not the Midwest, this is the middle of fucking no where. Little did I know it was also close to -40F. I have no way of contacting anyone. Wait I think my cell phone is still barely alive...Enough to send a couple texts, I happened to be in a reception area... Someone is looking over me....Shut the phone off to conserve the battery. Now what? I can't sit here I'm freezing. Well at least my feet won't be cold. I started walking. At the very least if the sled tipped over and my hooks actually set I could catch my team and all would be good. If I stopped now, I am going to freeze to death literally... this was a very real situation and I needed to be calm. But what happened? Full blown panic attack...racing heart, uncontrollable crying, hyperventilating... yep you can check all of those things. It took a good while to recover and figure out that its not going to help the situation.
Inventory of what I have on my person, I have my parka, with ruff, my drop mits, boots, bibs, headlamp, lighter, knife, chapstick, ipod, phone, eyedrops and a really shitty attitude right now. What should I have on my person? A bottle of water would be amazing right now (yep forgot that at the start...) maybe a granola bar (yep that's in my sled), something to start a fire with (kleenex and heet in my sled).... good lord I am not prepared to be stranded in the middle of nowhere by myself! A better attitude is needed... Well at least my feet aren't cold by walking. The moon is beautiful and I don't need my headlamp because it was so full. There really is only one trail on the river and if they sent a plane I'm sure they would see me in my Barney outfit! There was a lot of sarcasm and a lot of crying going on, but I didn't lose ALL of my sense of humor.
I was lost in the Alaskan wilderness for about 10 hours... I was lost by myself for about 5....I'm gonna tell you that these are the longest 10 hours of my life also probably the scariest. There were several times I wondered if I should lay face down in the trail so an airplane could see my dead body if they ever found me... then I would get back up and start walking again. I hurt my hip so I did a shuffle step to keep moving. Seriously this was a struggle. Do I keep walking? Do I try to get to a house that has a warm place? I DON"T KNOW WHAT TO DO! There isn't a lot of places out on the river and I didn't want to get shot, or kidnapped, eaten by a pack of wolves or stomped by a moose... keep walking. I need a break - lay down in the middle of the trail so that if a snow machine comes by they will run you over! So at least your body will be found.
I hope if I die that a moose kicks me.. It will be faster than freezing or starving to death. I wonder if I'll see a wolf pack... that might be a worse way to go. Once again insert a whole shit ton of sarcasm. Keep walking. Oh the sun is coming up! BEAUTIFUL sunrise... might be my last. Rest... start getting cold get up and start walking again.
Do I hear a snow machine? Nope
Do I hear a plane? Nope
Do I hear anything? Nope! Silence is golden unless you are waiting for a rescue....
Do I hear a snow machine? Maybe? Stop and turn around...Do I see a snow machine!! What do I do!! Do I start waving (dumbass you are on the side of the trail)? Do I jump out in front of him? PLEASE STOP!!!
Snow machine stops. "are you Beckie?"
"Are you here to save me?"
Snowmachiner: "Sounds like you had a pretty rough night"
"I wouldn't call it the most fun I've had"
"Are you warm enough?"
"I'll be alright now. Has anyone found my dogs?"
"I don't know I don't have a phone or any other communication right now"
We started headed towards the Yentna (which is the only spot I knew where I was). I was so relieved to be on a machine, but still terrified for my dogs. SO many things could have gone wrong. We followed the sled track of which my leaders were pretty much right on our out bound track - thankfully they don't really know anything else. Creatures of habit will take the way they know back.
After about a 20 minute snow machine ride we pulled up to Yentna Roadhouse. And there was my team. The snowmachiner said "well would you look at that looks like someone has them parked out!" I said " they didn't put the hooks down, if they did!" I have never been so happy to see those dogs.... No one was worse for wear. Chili was pretty sore but if they were running it would have been really hard for her little legs to keep up. She rode home in the bag. Yep you heard me right... I had to run the team home. There is no truck there is no trailer this is it. Still a 40 mile run to the closest parking lot where my truck and trailer hopefully will be.
Feed the dogs, massage the dogs, go eat food that the good people fed me. Dry out my gear. Contact civilization to let people know that I was found the dogs are OK and I'm gonna be fine...then head back out. Out on a trail I had been on twice before. Its all good should reach the truck by late evening.
Head out on the river...Into a snow storm. Instant panic attack. I can't see trail markers, I can't see a trail. I can't see shit because once again I'm crying. I can't breath. The hyperventilation starts. Beckie you have got to stop ... breath... deep breaths. FUCK MY LIFE....
I had put new batteries in my GPS and thank the lord that it had this trail on it. I only had to turn the team around twice and once Cole knew where we were headed he picked up speed. He had been here before. He knew where we were going. That dog is invaluable to me. He took us right up the big landing hill and directly to the truck and trailer. I have never been so relieved in my life. I can't describe the relief that I felt once all the dogs were in the boxes, my truck was started and I was headed home.
This was a character building race, we are just gonna go with that.