Registering for this site is easy. Just fill in the fields below, and we'll get a new account set up for you in no time.
(Whatever you prefer!)
This field can be seen by: Everyone
This field can be seen by: Everyone
(This is to help weed out bots and scammers)
[…] early, it’s been great to have them. I get to spend a lot of one on one time with them (see this post I wrote about that). I’m also getting ready for winter. There is a reason a lot of Alaskans I […]
I like your plan 🙂
…So many plans……. Ha…! Thanks for sticking with us though.
Smart lady. I’ve wanted to do this for the past year, but like you, feel pressure to update the fans and manage the kennel through social media/marketing platforms such as….FB! It’s like an addiction–First few days you have hankerings & cravings, you feel discouraged (disconnected) and then, wa-la! You’re head pops through the clouds and all of a sudden things are so clear and you’re like what the hell was I doing wasting so much time? I used to love love love reading…I should try & get back to that. Good luck!
Thanks bud!! I’m definitely in the withdrawal stage, ha…. But I shall persevere!!
Good for you Will! We love hearing about your kennel and the dogs. When I do look at FB I always pause for ATAO. Go enjoy a good book and sit on the edge of one of those dog houses. Hugs for you!
That means so much, Chris! Done, and done!
This is one of the many reasons I like and respect you so very much! Don’t go back! Stay in life with all of us who also made that choice and stay with your pack. They need you; social media does not.
Thank you Cynthia!! Sometimes I need that encouragement!!!
I relate to SO many of the things you talk about in this post… getting stuck in mindless scrolling, depression, missing reading. Good for you! Take this time when the light begins to return to rest and recharge.
Exactly! It sounds like there’s lots of evidence that social media is not exactly stellar for mental health. I’m definitely excited for the return of the light…!
Great story of your first race under ATAO, Will, even though I know that racing at this time is not your main goal quite yet. But well-written and exciting. Thanks for sharing, and hope you get this, as I never know if you’re able to see comments on your blog.
Also, a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you from Anecia and me.
Fantastic! I’m so happy for you and the team. I’m proud to be an individual sponsor and look forward to watching you and your team get stronger and grow together.
Wow! I’m so glad she came back relatively quickly! But what a terrifying experience. Don’t be too hard on yourself; each new thing teaches something (and there’s always a “new thing” with animals).
That’s sure true… It’s exciting to learn… But I’ll skip *this* kind of excitement!!!
I read this out loud on our drive back south from San Francisco… Reaction from the audience (just me and spouse!): Wow, they sure can write!
This is such a compelling and beautiful description of your experience. Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed and descriptive recap of the race. It felt like we were there with you!
Aww we’re famous!!! Thanks for taking the time to read! I’m glad it was well received!
This was super interesting for my non-mushing brain – the differences between various training scenarios. It makes total sense, of course, but it never occurred to me! It seems like your team of pups is training you just as much as you’re training them — learning together what you all need! Thanks for sharing all these different parts of your journey!
They are totally training me… Haha!! But yes it’s great, the best way to learn!
Good for you, Will! Be open! If we have the flu, or a broken arm, we don’t hide it. Why should we be ashamed if something doesn’t always work right in our brain? Just another organ/body part, right? Unfortunately, a pretty important part!
Sounds like you’re having a great time with your new kennel and puppies, etc.
I love your openness, honesty, and the quality of your writing in your blogs.
Have fun and good to hear from you.
Thanks John! I hope all is going well for you guys down there!
Thanks for your openness and sharing with us. I’m sorry you had such crummy experiences with therapy before; I’m so glad your current person is respectful of your identity and seems to be a good fit for you.
I LOVE “Another Round” and it’s been my “driving to/from therapy” listening habit this past year. They’ve been a good inspiration for me to pay attention to my mental health. I hadn’t been to therapy in a long time, but after being diagnosed with MS last spring, I needed some talk-therapy to go with my meds for depression and anxiety (which have worked well for me for about 10 years).
In short: Thank you and Yay for you!
(P.S. Seeing “they” pronouns used on your website was exciting to see (“Hey, someone like me!”) and sealed the deal for me as a supporter!)
YAY community!!! It’s nice to have someone who understands the pronouns thing AND loves this kind of adventure…. I’m really glad you found us! Thank you for supporting. As I told Shawn, “Someone like us!” Ha.
Sorry to hear you’ve also struggled with mental health shenanigans. It’s real and it’s tough. And I’m really sorry to hear of your MS diagnosis. I hope the talk therapy has been helpful in grappling with that. Another Round– and podcasts in general– have been a repeated saving grace for me. Just that reminder that there are a lot of people struggling with various things, and that that’s okay. It’s okay to be real and open about those struggles, and it’s okay to accept help for it… All of that.
We’re definitely glad to have you aboard for this adventure. Glad it’s an excuse for us to meet in the virtual sphere!!
Yes! Yay! Glad to meet virtually. (Someday, perhaps in person… my sister lives in Fairbanks and while I don’t get up for a visit as often as I would like, I’m way over due. And since it’s such a relatively small town, if you ever run into her – Sharon Alden – or her husband – Sean McGuire – they are excellent people!) So glad to be a supporter and to get a peek into your mushing journey (both in the actual physical sense and the “journey” of your kennel)! (And, apparently, I way over use exclamation points!)
You are welcome to the kennel anytime you come to visit! I also use a lot of !!!! 🙂
Gee, Will! Sorry to hear about your tooth. Take care of them! A dentist once told me your teeth should remain as much a part of your body as your fingers. But I’ve been there, done that. We were staying with friends, camped out in the Chiricahua Mts. in Arizona, about 20 years ago, ostensibly to listen to coyotes singing, but all I could hear was the throbbing in my molar, getting progressively worse. So about 2 AM we decided to high-tail it for Tucson, about a three hour drive away, where I knew there must be a dentist. My Aunt lived there, though she was out of town when we arrived early in the morning. While we were looking up potential, hopefully good dentists in the phone book (before internet), the phone rang and a lady asked if my Aunt was there, as she wanted to confirm her dental appointment. “You’re a dentist?” I asked in hope and amazement. “Can I come in to see you?” Of course. Never was I so happy for the prospect of getting a root canal. So floss daily and quit chewing rocks, or whatever. Hope you’re mouth is feeling better soon. 🙂
You know, mushers are kind of infamous for losing fingers… So maybe I’m on the right track!!!
Glad you were able to find a dentist. It is a special kind of terrible pain. Hard to imagine how people dealt with it all in the days before modern medicine!!!
Maybe whiskey, pliers, hammers and laudanum? Today I think we’re pretty whimpy compared to what 19th century–and earlier–folks had to deal with. We expect quick and painless outcomes today. Hope you’re feeling all better.
PS: Hang on to those fingers! Our neighbor cut one of his off in a table saw or something and it cost him upwards of $10 grand to have it patched up! set-netters are also liable to get fingers (or heads?) snapped off in nets and lines.
Definitely feeling better, grateful for modern medicine, and still have 10 fingers!!! So far so good!!!
Babe the Blue Ox! For your kennel full of gals and your MN connections 😀
Haha I love it!
Great story on the progress of all your puppies and dogs. And congratulations on the truck! It’s huge!
In the early ’70s we bought an early ’60s, blue-colored Dodge Power Wagon, and I rebuilt its engine. I’m not a truck person, either, but wanted to give that a try. It didn’t help that the engine was lying on a piece of plywood in the woods, so all the bolts and parts kept rolling off into the leaves (this was during my weed smoking days, so I’m sure that slowed the process down, too), but eventually it got done and it never did burn a drop of oil after that. We kept “Old Blue,” as a friend had christened it, until the mid-’80s, until it’s little rust spots had grown into major rust pimples, and its 10 to 12 mpg gas requirements in 1980s gas prices meant that a trip Anchorage cost 20 bucks. In 1984, the summer we sold it, I was completing a set-net skiff, and we had about a gallon of blue, 2-part polyurethane paint left over. The friend that was helping me suggested we should paint “Old Blue” before the paint set up in the can. With that we got out the rollers and painted as much of the truck as we could cover. He said “we charge extra for not painting the windows!” Once I’d taken a paint scraper to the windows, “Old Blue” looked amazingly new afterwards–from a distance the rust pimples didn’t show, too much. The fellow who bought her, for $750, who made sure to let me know his name–“Hi, I’m Karl Heinz, of the Ketchup family”–was going to use her on his mining claim near Gakona. He peeled off $750 from a giant roll of bills, which made me think I should have asked for more. For all I know, “Old Blue” is still trudging up and down mining trails. So my vote for naming your truck would be “Young (or little) Green,” because it looks a lot shinier than “Old Blue,” then gradually transition into “Old Green,” as the inevitable rust pimples grow.
Oh I love it!!! What a great story. It sounds like you had a lot of fantastic adventures. Who knew the Ketchup family was in Alaska???
Thanks John, I love hearing these tales.
Oscar the Grouch.
Mean, Green, ATAO Machine.
Olive (you can say, “Onward, Olive!)
Ah ha ha!!! I love all of these!!! Darn now there have to be decisions……..
No one has voted for ol’ betsy! not even me….Babe the blue ox is magnificent.
Haha I thought for sure you’d pick yours!
Last Stand Pups or Outlaw Pups? 🙂
Oooh, or Mad Max Series + Wild Bunch (Cassidy’s Gang)= Mad Bunch?
Oh I like Outlaws! Although Mad Bunch is poetic… But I don’t want Mr. Max to get his name in the headlines! He’s only a *token* male after all!
(I tried this a minute ago, hit something and it went “Poof.” But then you’re too well aware of my computer skills!).
Try again: The fun part sounds like the best, what you’re doing right now; the racing part like a lot of work, but I’m not very competitive, and getting old and lazy. You could just train the heck out of them, take fun runs and go on camping trips with your pups and skip the angst and stress of a long race and no one would fault you.
You’re perhaps aware that wolves and Ravens evolved together and developed a team hunting strategy. The ravens would find either dead prey, which they couldn’t open, since they are small and don’t have teeth, so they needed the wolves for that, or they would find live prey and they needed the wolves to catch it so they could get the scraps. The wolves liked it that the Ravens would show them where the prey was. From on high they could see a lot farther than the wolves, so when they spotted an animal, they would fly over the wolves, call them and fly back to the prey, back and forth until they saw the wolves were following. Doubtless Ravens still think of dog teams as wolves, of a sort. Maybe your Raven was trying to show you a moose or something. Did you give him some kibbles for his efforts? 😉
You write nice stories, Will!
I actually didn’t know that about ravens and wolves, but it makes total sense! That is awesome. No kibbles this time (we were traveling light and didn’t have any food with us), but when we’re doing longer training runs we’ll definitely leave some snacks behind (intentionally or not).
It’s funny, I know the fun part is supposed to be the most fun, but I really love the training for a race– Having a goal is a great motivator! But, I’m also learning about this whole “fun” theory too!
Thanks for taking the time to re-write your “poofed” reply! We’ve all been there, no matter the level of our computer skills…!
Love your witing Will, Time for Spring camping. I always loved that last month of winter with the dogs. Pressure is off, everyone, including me, in good shape, temps warm…. some of the best days!
They really are the glory days! Thanks for following along, Chris!! I hope things are going well gearing up for tour season… Maybe we’ll be down to visit sometime this summer!
Will, as usual a wonderfully descriptive story. It sounds like you all are having a blast!
I notice in your previous post (April Fools), that you are letting your pups run free and explore on their own. For the past couple of years I’ve been somewhat peripherally involved with, or keeping track of, Alaska Safe Trails, an organization dedicated to keeping trails safe from traps, both leg-hold and Conibear, either of which can either cripple or, especially in the case of Conibear, kill a dog, even if you get to it quickly. We have been trying, very unsuccessfully, to get the AK Board of Game to change the laws to require trappers to tag traps and to keep them a reasonable distance off of used trails. Unless your dogs are well trained to commands, it might be best to keep them on a leash (Is that anathema to dogs who are being trained to pull?) Numerous dogs have been hurt or killed over the past several years that I’ve heard of. I don’t know what to tell you, other than to be very aware. It’s a sorry situation, unless you’re a trapper. So sorry to be a wet blanket.
Thanks for bringing this up. This is something I’m pretty familiar with– Thanks for doing the work you’re doing to try to mitigate that situation!
We only do free play with the dogs in areas where we make sure to clear that there aren’t traps. We are not walking on public trails, just to be clear. I have a fenced in yard that I use first and foremost– But my dogs have learned to jump the fence, the naughty nuggets! The other two areas I do free play in are either not traveled by any other people, or have been thoroughly vetted by fellow dog mushers to make sure it’s a safe area for the dogs to roam.
Freeplay is *extremely* important for our dogs. We work with them to have good recall and to follow along with the pack, and the un-leashed, un-harnessed method gives the dogs a really important opportunity to stretch their legs, get some great exercise, and do what they love best– run!
That being said, there is always a risk of what you mention. Unless you have a well controlled area where you can do so– like a dog park, owned property, or other–, I don’t recommend all pet owners free walk their dogs this way. As a dog mushing community in Two Rivers, we do take steps to minimize the potential risk. One of my overall goals is to have my own property where I can widely free play with the dogs.
If you want to learn more about why free play is so important to sled dogs especially, check out some of Martin Buser’s writing– He is my mentor and a true expert on this subject!
Last but not leashed (see what I did there??), we do walk the dogs on leashes when we can’t get to our free play areas, but it is not exactly an easy endeavor– Sled dogs and leashes don’t really go together. Unlike with pet dogs, we of course encourage our four legged friends to pull… And they are strong!!!
Thank you so much for bringing this up. It is a really important thing for dog owners in Alaska to be aware of.
As usual, Will, great to hear all the progress your pups are making in your very readable style. It must be fun to just run around with them like a pack for a change, instead of them being lined out in front of the sled, though I know you’ve said you’re already counting the days until snow falls again.
One comment, I hope constructive, from the half-baked editor side of me: I believe you must mean “tenet” instead of “tenant,” as you’ve used it in two places.
Thank you for a good read, and I look forward to the next installment.
Ha you are totally correct John! That’s what I get for speed-typing. I’ll leave them as they are for posterity, and pay attention to that in the future…!
Yep – another great post! A great read! And SUPER interesting and educational to learn about the various and important bonding and training that goes on – and how it actually happens! I love your healthy eating that includes eating SOME FRUIT. EVER. Reminds me of how we tend to want to wait until everything is “just right” or we can do things “perfectly” before we launch into a project/new habit/etc. I have to remind myself that if I didn’t get five actual servings of fruit/veg in a day, I got in more than zero, which is better than I was doing on the healthy eating front!
Yes sometimes I get overwhelmed with all of the things you are supposed to Do Correctly, so I have a brain rebellion and don’t do anything. Baby steps!
Just remember: “a journey begins with a single step,” I don’t know who that’s a quote from, but it seemed apt for your current endeavor. Good Luck! And best to you from Anecia and Me,
Thanks John!! I always try to remember to take each adventure step by step. Onward!!
I have long wanted to attend that Kachemak Bay writers Conference. Someday I will. I’m glad that you went. I look forward to your blog posts, not only to hear bits and pieces of your life with dogs, but simply because I just so enjoy your gift of writing. And it is a gift, truly.
Thank you so much… That is incredibly kind! You will make it to the conference– Hopefully some day soon!
A wonderful blog about the seashore! One of Anecia’s and my favorite things to do is walk along the beach, and since it’s usually beyond our means to go for a walk on her beloved Clarks Point beach, Homer and it’s various beaches have become other favorites. She likes to look for agates and listen to the sound of the waves. I just like listening and smelling the sea smells. Agate looking seems to take too much attention away from simply enjoying being by the sea–plus, there don’t seem to be any agates on Homer beaches, anyway.
I was interested to learn you went to the Homer’s writers’ conference. A couple of other friends have attended. One, who lives in Homer, has been a couple of times. Someday I’d like to go to it as well. I’ve always loved writing, but never seem to take the time; there’s always too much else going on.
Your opinion of diesels makes total sense, or any motors on boats, for that matter. They have their place, but if you don’t need to get anywhere in a hurry, what’s the point? The noise and the smell take away from the peace and the quiet. The sailing skiff I’ve been working on is maybe 75% planked, so hopefully by fall it might be ready for launching. Things would progress faster if I spent more than 2 or 3 hours per day on it, but when it’s done, you and Shawn should feel free to come down and we’ll try sail it on one of the lakes around here. I’m by no means an expert sailor, but I usually can get it to go in the right direction.
I would love to take you up on that!!! Shawn is not a huge fan of water, so they might pass on the offer… But you never know!
I didn’t know there were *any* agates around Homer! On the shores of Lake Superior I used to go agate hunting, without a ton of luck. I get pretty sucked into the pursuit, and like you mention, lose my sense of enjoyment about being near the water… So I will try to forget there are agates around Homer or I will never listen to the waves again.
The writer’s conference is great, and was especially fruitful for me this year. You should go some year, I think you might really enjoy it!
Another great story, Will, Oh Great Wizardess of Electronics, though it reminds me that as a kid I only played with rocks and sticks and not with a Walkman or an iPod. The only soundtracks I recognized were “Legends of the Fall,” and “A Walk to Remember.” Oh well…. I do know how to play the radio and CDs, though my music runs to stuff that’s been, and remains popular, for the last 200 years.
Your uphill run reminds me of ski-kjoring uphill, with my lone (borrowed) dog looking back at me disparagingly as if to say “why are you holding me back, I want to GO!” while I practically tripped over my tongue dragging between my skis.
Haha at least I had the sled handlebar to hang onto… I will always have utmost respect for skijourers, as I shall never be among their ranks!
What kind of music did your sticks and stones play? Probably rock, right? 😀
Clack, clack, clack, I think, though whether to a rhythm, I can’t recall 😉
Will, nice to read all their bios after having met them. Not that I was able to keep them all straight, mind you, but fun to try and remember who was who. I know you’ve said before, but who are the Star Wars Pups and who are the Outlaw Pups? Are they two different litters, or groups you got at different times? Like I say, I think you’ve explained this before, but I have OBS (Old Brain Syndrome) 🙁
Thanks for another good story. Write a book about all this!
That’s a good question… I should have linked to a better explanation! The Star Wars Pups are the older pups, a litter of four from Martin Buser. They are the lanky, mostly black pups with pointy ears. Three of them were in that very back pen and Mr. R2 was close the front when you came by! The Outlaws are four pups from two litters– One from Martin Buser and one from my buddy Riley, a local Fairbanks musher. The two from Martin are Sundance and Cassidy. We all held Sundance when we took pictures! The other two are Mad Max (the big white male) and Furiosa (the goofy looking girl in the back of the open area. I don’t know if that jogs your memory at all… If not there’s only one option… Visit again!!! The older dogs (Ophelia, who Anecia was petting, and the two shy girls and Nala) I call The Core Four. And that’s the twelve dogs!
Thanks for the explanation, though now I’m confused in that I thought we were holding Furiosa. Isn’t she the one who was shedding, and looked so woebegone from my holding her? She was cute. Or was it Sundance? At any rate, nice to hear about all their different personalities.
Haha you got to hold Sundance. Though they both look very similar in how much they are shedding!!!
Happy Anniversary! It’s quite a year you’ve had! That was so sweet of Shawn’s parents to sneakily have flowers waiting for you! Welcome home!
I have so many thoughts about this! Chief of which is what I tell co-workers who’ve seen my posters of Ryno dogs I’ve sponsored on my office wall: I love dogs, I admire mushers, and it’s the sport I like to follow. If I were a basketball fan, I’d be paying for game tickets and team gear, etc. Supporting mushers is so much more fun and rewarding! Your wise boss and friend Michael is right – inspiration, admiration, and vicarious living all play a part and, for me, there is huge value there. Also, as I think I’ve expressed before, being able to support a fellow queer-identified person who speaks out about mental health is pretty amazing!
You were one of the first people following along who was pointedly excited about the queerness and it made me realize my queerness and and mushing didn’t have to be mutually exclusive! That was a huge deal for me! So thank you SO MUCH!! For that and all of the other incredible support you’ve given us and mushing in general!
Thanks! I think you’re doing a great job of balancing it all! I had a funny memory toady related to the dichotomy of being a musher and the need to get yourself “out there.” One of the times I did the Riverboat Discovery tour in Fairbanks (probably 15+ years ago by now!), the meet-and-greet musher (now a multi-year Iditarod finisher) was clearly not all that comfortable in the public eye. They were informative and nice, and patiently answered questions from the cruise-line senior citizens, such as, “Are you selective about breeding?” It was a “duh!” moment for me of how weird it must be for mushers to balance their solo mushing passion with needing to do things like tourist demos or leading expeditions to raise funds and support their endeavors.
I definitely see mushers take on a “tourist voice” or “tourist character” for those types of questions… or really, like you say, for any of the public shenanigans! I try my best to share my enthusiasm, because that is very real. I did tours on a glacier one summer, and it was really the repetitiveness that got me. It’s all a funny song and dance…!
I have some friends who work the Riverboat Discovery tour! How often have you gotten to come up to Fairbanks? I hope you’ll get to come to ATAO next time!!
I’m definitely visiting ATAO next time I’m up there! I’m actually “due” for a trip… one of my older sisters lives in Fairbanks (she’s been there for going on 30 years!). I first went up in 1989, the summer before I left for college (my parents and I drove/took the ferry and slept on deck – that was AMAZING!), Two days after we left Fairbanks, we called home and found out that Sharon was moving there! My oldest sister and I visited a year later while Sharon was living off of Farmer’s Loop in a nifty little cabin. I spent the summer between my Sophomore and Junior years in college with up there – I worked at Hot Licks when they were next to Gulliver’s Books (and connected by a little door/hall). Fairbanks has grown SOOOO much since then – there were barely any stores other than Fred Meyer’s! After that, I think I’ve been 4 or 5 more times… they kind of run together. My folks used to go up most years in late summer (health stuff has kept them away for a bit), they LOVE Creamer’s Field. Most recently I was there for Sharon’s wedding (she’s now living pretty much at the intersection of Steese and Farmer’s Loop). The visit before that, a friend and I also did a 2 day mushing trip down in Denali (Earthsong – I think) – it was -50. That was cold! But we also got to see the sprint races in Fairbanks – that was so cool! Would love to time my next visit to see those again. Sorry for the “book” of words! When suffering through a hot summer in Southern California, I dream of going north! (minus the mosquitoes)
I love it! It sounds like you’ve had some great adventures up here. Brrr to -50… Though I am dreaming of it right now in this hot summer, ha! That’s so cool you’ve gotten to see so much. Well of course you must come visit ATAO and I hope your sister can come too! We are also conveniently located down the road from Ryno Kennel so makes for easy multiple stops!!!
Will, what a beautiful story! I was engaged from beginning to end! I sure don’t know very many dogs, but I remember hearing, and seeing on TV, how the Sami and Nenets people will remember which reindeer is which–hundreds of them–and be able to tell them apart from one another when they get mixed up with other herds (I think ear-notching might help), though I’m not sure if they name them all and recognize their names the way you’ve managed.
Your mention of different shapes of ears and heads: We watched a Nature program on dogs a few months ago, and they were discussing their domestication from wolves. They used as an example a fox farm in Siberia, which had been trying to breed foxes for over 50 generations so they’d become more tractable, breeding only the calmest, friendliest ones. Eventually they did end up with some really friendly foxes, but as an adjunct to their personality change, their coloration changed and lots of them had floppy ears, too. Evidently the genes that control behavior also controls coloration and body shape. Strange….
Thanks for the great story!
Yes I’ve read a lot about the fox domestication project. It’s very very interesting. Floppy ears, color changes, and I think also shorter snouts? Fascinating! And that’s very interesting about the Sami and Nenets people. I have heard the same about cultures who keep cattle, like the Maasai. I can believe it, too… I think we as humans group things we don’t understand into a pattern. Ah, that’s a cow: what more do I need to know about it? But then you get to KNOW the cow and it becomes not just a cow at all.
Thanks, as always, for following along John! I love your insights!
I always enjoy your stories and good writing! Keep them coming!
Balto? An American Tale? Field of Dreams? Titanic? Perfect Storm? (The Perfect Storm soundtrack has a couple of cuts that always make me cry!) Thanks for your continued honesty about depression, its impacts on your life, and how you are tackling it. There is so much to relate to in this post… it’s been a rough mental health summer for me as well. Hang in there and keep on keeping on. Onward!
Oh I love James Horner! Of course he did all of those. My favorite is… Legends of the Fall. The main theme is immediately calming and centering for me. It = home. I listen to it while mushing a lot. 🙂
Sorry you’ve also been fighting that fight. It’s really tough and when we’re in it it’s hard to remember there are actually a lot of us in it. Same for you– Onward it is!
(I tried to send this a minute ago, but learned that hitting “control and i” in this format does not get you italics but oblivion)
Will, you burn so brightly, like oxygen to a fire. Reading about all you’ve been doing and going through, makes me sad to hear about your depression, and tired were I to do all you’re trying to do, but then my days are shortening as the years go by, no doubt just part of the plan.
Maybe I’ve written to you before about this exercise. I don’t remember, but apologies if I have, but see if it just might help. It does me when I need to put things into perspective:
Sit quietly for a few moments. In your imagination, think of the workings of the systems of your body, blood flow, cells churning in their nuclei, etc. Go deeper; look into their makeup at the atomic level. Imagine them twirling around at the speed of light, because, after all, at the atomic level that’s all we are: light. Imagine then those atoms, separated by space, the same relative distances between the atoms as there is between the stars and galaxies of the universe, most of which is emptiness, an infinity of emptiness, both within and in the universe. At the atomic level, that is what we are: infinity, emptiness light and peace. Perhaps try this in the morning when you awaken, or when you are sad.
I hope it’s not too “new agey” for you, just a simple exercise. As the song says, “Don’t worry, be happy.”
I love it. Thanks for being such a great support as always John. I heard about this exercise the very first time when I was in my first play at Hamline (where I went to college). It was an exercise to help us find our character, but I have utilized it for meditation and centering ever since. I like the way you have written it here.
A lot of what you’ve described has a very familiar feel to me… I’m not great at change (small, large, medium) so once I make a change, I’m fully *there.* Consequently, when I’m traveling, I feel like I’m existing in some kind of alternate reality that has become my new, permanent reality. My “usual” reality seems so far away and I get all antsy/nervous about getting back to it (no matter how much I miss my bed and my dog!).
I am curious about how you sketch out a training schedule for the puppers. Is it down to the day? Is it week by week?
Yes!!! That’s exactly it, you put it perfectly. Wow I thought that was only me!
Hey great question! Do you mind if I answer that more fully in a video for this week’s “Ask a Musher Monday”? I’ll say until then that I have a current schedule that is down to the day, but it’s tentative to change to some degree.
Nice story, Will, simple and to the point. I can just picture it! Makes me miss the Interior.
Congratulation Will!! Enjoy every step of the way! We know you can do it, and we know you’ll give it your all. You take such good care of your dogs and have such a bond with them that I’m sure you’ll do well. Even if you don’t win, you and your dogs will have learned a lot and had the fun of starting from scratch, from tiny little puppies, and from a non-dog lot, put it all together and run 300 miles. How cool is that?
Thanks for the nice update, Will. It sounds like you all are having fun. Once question, though: How do you decide that a dog is not a leader? Such as Egret? Put him/her up front and watch him get all confused, or can you tell that beforehand just by temperament?
Happy to hear that you have snow. Yesterday at our place, north of Wasilla, it warmed up to around 32–rain, snow, freezing all mixed together. Today straight-on rain at 39 degrees. Nasty stuff, which will freeze rock-hard when the temp drops again. All our 8-10″ has turned to mush and is regularly plopping off the roof. Don’t you love Climate Change? 🙁 Forty years ago we would have been in the minuses by this time of year, with probably 18″ of snow.
This is a great question! Egret is the only dog on the team who I unequivocally will not put in lead for one big reason… When she poops she comes to a 100% STOP. When she is mid team, this doesn’t stop everyone, but if she is in front, she will create a really giant tangle!!! She is very happy running mid team, so I don’t feel the need to get her out front. Otherwise, everyone else is a candidate! Some dogs end up not liking being up there as much. You’ll see them looking back a lot, or weaving around as though confused why there is no one to follow! Dogs who love it make it pretty clear. R2 and Rebel are naturals– barking to go and heading straight on til morning!
Oh that’s very gross to hear the weather down there… But makes me happy we’re up here!!!
Great explanation, Will! Such a logical solution. Thanks
Funny writing, Shawn! Sounds like you and Will have figured out categories for every emergency in life.
Thanks for sharing.
You’ve been writing some great posts, Will, and you too, Shawn, on your “work party.” (you guys make a great, complementary team!). I’ve been enjoying them but been too busy to comment until now that Christmas prep is pretty much winding down. I really liked your earlier post of your long run; you described it so well I could have been there, and here, on losing the team, I caught your anxiety, if maybe not quite panic.
Not enough snow for a snow hook I’ll have to note as just one more negative effect of Climate Change. Based on weather in the ’60s to the ’70s in Fairbanks, you should be having a couple of feet by now and temps in the way minuses. CC has been weighing heavily on my mind lately, as it should on all of us, though it’s far down on the list of concerns of most folks in this country. It should be at the top of our lists, as it’s coming on fast. Your blog isn’t the place to talk about it, except to note that it affects mushing, too.
Question: since there isn’t enough snow for a snow hook, how about dragging a long line behind the sled, knotted every few feet, that you could fall on and grab if the sled gets away?
Thanks for the great stories and good luck on the Copper River prep!
Using a drag line is something some mushers do! I was thinking about doing that for sure after Sunday. You are right about the world changing. It’s much different from when I was a kid.
It is so great that your Christmas prep is winding down!! Mine hasn’t even started yet! Ahhhhhh
We got our cup! Thank you so much, though it was entirely unnecessary! You could save more donation money by not sending stuff out, though it’s very kind of you!.
Congratulations on the long run, but so sorry to hear that Cassidy has mange, though it was funny and interesting to hear your telling of it. Are there no good vets closer in than North Pole? That seems a really long way from Two Rivers. We lived there a long time ago; has a short-cut been built to cut the distance from where you are?
I’ve been thinking about your losing the team on your last post. An idea popped into my head for a system on how to rig up a gizmo so that you could have a drag line and be able to grab onto it without being dragged bumpily-bump down the trail by your enthusiastic little chargers. Looking at the sled from the side, right aft on the handlebars and centered over the brake, picture an L-shaped metal bracket, the long leg of the L vertical, the short leg horizontal, and hinged to the main, bottom cross bar at the corner of the L. This bracket would be held in place, until it was needed, by a light spring or bunny cord. Your drag line would be fastened to the top of the long leg of the L. The short leg would be fit so that when the rope pulled on the top, the lower leg would swivel down and press on the brake. The harder you pulled on the rope, the harder it would push on the brake. Of course, in every good idea, there are bugs to be worked out: Now you have the drag line, instead of dragging happily along flat on the trail, instead drooping down at an angle right where you’re standing on the runners. How to fix? Don’t know yet, but perhaps run it to one side of the handlebar, hooked over a breakaway swively hook, that would turn and release the line when you pulled on it, and then engage the brake. It would still be drooping down but to one side of where you’d be standing. I dump this half-baked idea in your lap. For all I know it’s already been tried and rejected as unworkable, but if it did work it would preclude your waddling down the trail like the Michelin Woman in your giant parka and snow gear. Whaddya think?
Hi John! I am glad you like the cup! It was created by Shawn’s dad Tim. Isn’t it awesome??
Hmm I do think the vet in North Pole is probably one of the closest… But moreover they are open 7 days a week and I am so far extremely happy with them! Important to have dog docs you feel good about, of course. Dr. Lovely has been fantastic.
I am CONSTANTLY scheming about a spring loaded thing to put a break down or stop the team. In fact I suspect many mushers think about this. Having it attached to the drag line is interesting although could become an issue if the line gets caught in a branch or something. What I am trying to scheme about is a remote control thing you can carry on your body. Sometimes if you lose the team you don’t even have time to grab a drag line. Your spring loaded break-pusher is a really interesting idea. I wonder if it could be set up so that it releases a weight to land on the brakebar. We should scheme about this more! It sounds like you are on to a good thought… I bet we could build something like that together. 😀
Yes, tell Shawn’s dad nice cup!
I’ll see if I can get something sketched up. Fun to think about.
Okay John sounds good! Should be our spring project!!
Very nice acknowledgement to everyone. Nice, and interesting, to hear all about your “behind the scenes” crew.
We’ll be listening closely, and watching, too, if we can find it on TV.
We wish you the best of luck and will be rooting for you!
Hope to hear a blow-by-blow account of the race on your next post!
All the best from Anecia and me, John
your narrative is written so well. I just grabbed my interest and held it all the way through! I’ve been following along, but for some reason it won’t let me (or i don’t know how to) comment on the Patreon-headed messages. I thought I was a Patreon member. Who knows… At any rate, we look forward to all your postings.
You are a patron! You should contact your friendly local IT support to see why you can’t comment 😉
Your wonderful story continues! How did you manage to remember all this detail through a bad cold, hallucinations and sleep deprivation? Once I experienced hallucinations during fishing season, when we’d been up for 18 or 20+ hours for several days on end. I had scows and “bomber” planes bearing down on the boat while I was steering, so I was going all over the place trying to avoid them. My captain, who’d been sleeping, woke up and said “What the hell are you doing!?” When I told him, he told me to go to bed. No fun, for sure.
Your rutted trail section reminded me of a time a friend and I were ski-kjoring back behind Palmer Correctional Center near Sutton, on an old mining trail. He had loaned me one of his two dogs, a good natured but rather lazy puller; the only time he really liked to pull was going downhill. We came to the top of a pretty steep hill and started down, my dog happily picked up the pace and was galloping along right at the limit of my ability not to crash. Alongside the trail I noticed that some idiot had cut off all the alders with an axe, so they stood spear-like, leaning outward towards me, along either side of the trail. These whizzed by me while I snowplowed with as wide a stance as I could manage. If I fell I’d have been skewered. A memorable experience!
Thanks again for a great story!
Haha!! This story made me laugh out loud. Thanks for sharing. I love all the adventures you’ve had John.
Awesome, Will, you’re such a good writer that these accounts are really absorbing. I kept reading even though I should have gone to bed (super early work schedule). Onward!
Uh oh watch out for sleep hallucinations!!! 😀 I’m glad you enjoy them! More to come!
I am verklempt over the thought of Egret and Annie co-parenting Annie’s babies 🙂
Omg they will be the best co parents
So nice to hear you’ve gotten two new dogs, though we’re sorry to hear Max will no longer be with you. On the other hand, I’m sure R2 will enjoy lolling around and being “retired.” I sure wish I could have been retired at his (Her? I forget) age.
We’re sorry to have missed you, Will. I called and left a message at OAJ; we wanted to take you to lunch while you were down 🙁
Hi John! It’s my fault, I was so busy I never had the chance to get back to you! I should be back in town a couple more times this summer– I’ll get in touch with you then!
We’ll look forward to it!
Do you have an address where you can receive Amazon packages? Maybe some Polar Buffs will find their way to you…
Hi Sherry!!! We have an Amazon Wishlist– it’s here: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/2FLTWL46QDKAA?ref_=wl_share (and it has Buff’s on it, though the sellers sometimes run out or aren’t the best option)
Our mailing address is PO Box 16261, Two Rivers, AK, 99716 if the wishlist doesn’t work! 😀 Thank you!!!
I always forget how much I love your essay voice until I wind up on your blog again.
Congratulations on transitioning!
Aww… thanks Hannah, that means a lot from you.
Thanks for bringing us along on your journey. I’m glad you found the right therapist for you. Congratulations on the new you!
Thank you for sharing this, Will, you write with such clarity and grace.
Hi Will. Thank you for sharing your story.
Hi Will. Nice to meet you. So glad you are you and the world is better with you in it!!
Hey Dude — it’s all good … but I swear it’s gonna be hard to switch to Will afterall you’ve been Frankie to me … I’ll trry hard! Names are important! One step at a time and you’ll start to feel like you complete self and then hopefully one day you will realize you are what you’ve always felt and believed!
Haha there will always be a Franky side of me. 😀
Hanna’s right – your essay voice is incredible. I am so glad you found your way to your true self and that you’re telling your story. Visibility and representation are SO important. You can be the catalyst for someone else, they way the trans woman you follow on social media was for you. I’m also glad that you found a clinic and medical providers in Fairbanks that are supportive and knowledgeable – something that until pretty recently I suspect would have been hard to find in that neck of the woods. Welcome to the wide world, Will! Your “onward” is full of such great things!
What a profound essay. I wish you all the best Will and am very happy for you.
Hi Will! Welcome to your truth! 😀
Hi Will, it’s good to meet you. I know I have said hello to you before, but things only go upwards from here. Onwards
You always inspire me with your courage….love you lots and so glad to know you?
Wow. Speachless. So happy you are becoming!
Hey man, welcome to the club.
I saw you come out on twitter but I keep my account private on there so I wasn’t able to reply.
I’m really glad that it sounds like you have a good circle of trans friends because my experience was that it was really helpful to have people to talk to. And I’ve seen that be true with a number of guys as I also help run a support group for trans guys here in the SW of England. There’s much of your story that seems similar to my own. Except that I was never very sporty.
I wish you the best, and I’m really pleased that you have been able to make that step that is coming out and starting T. Good luck in the future for chest surgery.
I came for the puppy photos and I stayed for this wonderful essay. I am so excited for you, and inspired.
Thanks for writing all this down in such an eloquent way and sharing it. It opened my eyes a bit wider and gave me even more respect for the hurdles some people face.
I wish you happy trails for decades to come. May all be well…
Will, your honesty, openness and eloquent writing never cease to amaze me! Switching from Will to Will will be a mind bender for a bit, though, so forgive me if I revert back once in a while.
Maybe, having repressed your feelings for all this time was a contributor to your depression, so hopefully your transitioning will lighten that up?
Knowing now what internal turmoil you’ve been going through while you’re manfully trying to sort out my petty little computer problems must have been driving you nuts. So apologies for that.
I must admit to being confused about the definitions behind the acronym (?) LGBTQ, and find nothing very helpful on the Internet for explanation. Might one of your excellent essays with good explanations of the various shades of meaning for us heterosexual folks help clear up misunderstandings and prejudice?
Thanks again, Will, welcome out!
Nice to meet you Will, and thank you for being you.
This is so well said, and I am so proud of you! Thank you for sharing your story and your truth. ❤️
Hi Will! I am one of your dad’s cousins. Our dad’s were brothers and my dad’s name is Gerald Troshynski. Wonderful to meet you on this blog and to read your incredible story. Incredible because you have come out of hiding and the very truest purpose we have in life is to live authentically. Here is to hoping the next 33 years are euphoric for you. The world has so much love in it and I am going to make sure my kids know about your journey. Good luck at Iditarod!
Happy to meet you, Will! Sending love and best wishes as you continue crossing those finish lines you have always dreamed about.
I’m sending all of my love to all of you. Please give my buddy Belle a gentle scratch from me for being so brave.
This was so painful to read, but y’all did a great job responding to the emergency! I’m so proud of humans and dogs! Hope everybody heals quickly 💚
You’re doing so good. I’m in tears from inspiration and hope. Love to you and the pups!
Will, we are so sorry to hear of you and your team’s porky accident! We read your last post but didn’t have time to answer because our car was hit yet again, in almost the same place, this time by a teenager backing out of a parking place and not seeing us (on her phone?). At any rate we’ve been busy dealing with repair issues. Oh, porcupines, poor, slow inoffensive, creatures that cause such grief, all without meaning to. There are tales of their quills even penetrating tires and causing flats, but they do NOT actually throw them. Here are a couple of my experiences with these peaceful little creatures. They are good to eat. Years ago, when I went up the Nushagak R., my mother-in-law told me that if I could find one, would I please bring it home, dead, I assumed, which I did, having absolutely no experience in skinning it–painful experience is an understatement, crouched in the bottom of the skiff, kneeling in quills, pulling quills out of my hands while I tried to get its hide off. Later, I learned that the technique was to skin the belly, then fold the skin over on itself so the quills are enclosed. Live and learn. But it was a memorable meal, one of he best dinners I can remember. She parboiled it in vinegar water, then roasted it in the oven on low heat until the meat was falling off the bone with delicious gravy in the bottom, served over rice. I sympathize with you and your pups’ pain, though. Once, driving back from Outside in the fall, I let my dog, Chenik, out for her morning walk, around 6 AM, somewhere along the Tok cutoff; we’d camped out for the night. Of course, she found a porky, and was covered in quills, her mouth, nose, face, and paws. Luckily, though, not in her eyes. She had a guilty “I’m so sorry” look on her face. I tried to pull out one or two, but she howled and squirmed so hard that I gave it up so we got back in the truck, sped off down the road and stopped at the nearest gas station, where I asked about a vet. The fellow told me there was a doctor in Gakona, so we headed there, probably half an hour away. Eventually, I found where he lived, knocked on his door and a really sleepy fellow flung open the door. “Where’s the patient!” he yelled at me. In the truck, I told him. When he saw Chenik, he said “You woke me up for a dog? Do you know what time it is? I’m not a vet, I’m a doctor!” By this time my watch said 7:00. “You’re nuts; it’s 6:00!” In 1964 there was still a time difference between Alaska and the Yukon that I’d forgotten about. He barked at me to wait there. He came back with a syringe and pair of pliers, jabbed Chenik and handed me the pliers. He waited until he was sure she was out, showed me how to pull the quills so they wouldn’t break off, then stomped off back to bed. As he was leaving I asked how much it would cost and he said “No charge, just keep her away from porkies in the future and let me get the hell back to bed!” Years later, Anecia and I were up in Hatcher pass, skiing up Mint Glacier trail. At a spot where the trail dropped steeply off to the side, we spotted a porcupine in a willow, about ten feet up the tree but only about five feet from where we stood. We talked to it and it rolled its eyes worriedly at us, poking its tongue in and out nervously while we stood there, so we bid it a good afternoon and skied off.
As usual John you are full of the best stories!!! This might be one of my favorites. When are you writing your book??? (Maybe after the boat is done??)
“They are– not a part of me, but more like, I am a part of them. We are of a unit. We are a team.” You are PACK!
Thanks for the compliment, Will, though I should ask the same of you! Anecia keeps asking me the same thing. Maybe best before my old brain turns to mush? 😉
I have to commend the series of quill-pun titles as they continue in a place less ephemeral than Twitter. Thank you for the continued updates, Quilliam and team!
Nice story, Will. I’m happy you and Emmy are getting along so nicely! I’ve been busy and haven’t been able to keep up as well as I’d like with ATAO, so hadn’t heard the story of how you acquired Emmy. We’re happy to hear you, Shawn and the team seem to be doing well.
Best from us,
Hi Will! Love that you are bonding with Emmy and that she is a rising star at ATAO! Intrigued by the name of her new sponsor… If I need to change my level on sponsorship on Patreon, please let me know!
HI Will, we’re so happy to hear that the vets got the quill out of Belle’s wrist. It sure must have been painful for her! And we’re happy you have enough snow for sledding now. We got dumped on by about six inches last night. I’m not ready or enthusiastic about it. Guess I’m beginning to feel too old to deal with it. And I spent ALL DAY deleting 22,000+ (!!!) emails from the MTA server because I forgot your warning to go in and delete them periodically, so now I’m computered out.
Best to you and Shawn.
Happy Thanksgiving, Will, to you and Shawn. Nice essay! Lots of thank yous 🙂
You’re also lucky to be up in Two Rivers where there’s snow. We had snow, then it warmed up and blew like crazy and now we have ice. Walking is treacherous. Be thankful for snow, too, in addition to your other thankfuls.
Best to you all!
Really glad you’re alive and literally still in one piece.
Hi Will, poor you! What an exciting and well-written story (as usual!). I won’t recount all the line accidents and tragedies I’ve heard about. You hear of, and see, far too many in a lifetime of fishing. You were really lucky and we’re happy it turned out well in the end. Here’s perhaps a dumb idea from a non-musher, but just in case it might, by some stretch of the imagination, work, I throw it out there at the risk of my making a fool of myself: What if the lead dog carried a long line on her harness that would drag along between the team, so that if you were in another similar situation you could grab hold of that and it would turn her and finally the whole team around and you’d end up in front of them. Would it get tangled around their legs and endanger them, or would it just drag harmlessly between the two rows of dogs? Just a thought. Thanks for a really good yarn; sorry it came at such a danger to yourself. Get a better snow hook!
This is a place where you can discuss the race, argue about the best ATAO dog, and spout your theories! Go!
Aaaah so excited for my buddy Sundance and my buddy-in-spirit Nala! Also Will, he seems like a cool dude
Well, this is cool!!!
macb is doing a great job on running commentary for the tracker thingy (very technical term) and illumination on Twitter!
For what it’s worth, my ability to deal with sleep dep. took a nose dive a few years ago…which is about how much older I am than you. Being old is lame! But has other perks too 🙂
Yeah it’s no fun!!! Gone are the days when I easily pull all nighters… Now it’s a real task…
Started out rough but it sounds like it turned out to be a good race.
What kind of things do you listen to on your IPod/device? Music Or, podcasts?
It was good! I listen to music, audio books, and most of all, podcasts. The upbeat conversational tones of podcasts keep me awake and engaged– whereas the more lulling tones of audio books can put me to sleep, especially if I’m tired!
My favorite music to listen to is:
– Score of Legends of the Fall (GREAT mushing music)
– Mumford & Sons
Very folksy out in the woods. Of course at times there’s other things– Macklemore or Lady Gaga or Emile Sande… Etc.
I also listen to movies and TV shows I’ve converted to MP3’s. My favorite is The West Wing. I’ve seen the series several times, but I’ve probably listened to the whole thing through dozens of times at least. It’s great to pass the time. Hoping to convert some other shows to MP3’s when I have the chance at some point.
I suck at Onward too. I’ve talked myself out of just starting so many things. From my perspective I see you as persistent and determined to keep going.
thanks for another great “stream of consciousness” piece. Just talking through my hat here, it seems to me that you’re going through a lot of changes physically, which could, in part, be messing your head. So you should be thinking of yourself at least as much as you’re thinking of your dog buddies. Unless your head’s screwed on straight it will be hard for you to be fully present for the dogs. I have to admit that I’m weird here. I have almost NO competitive spirit when it comes to sports. My son is always agonizing about “his” team losing a football, basketball or baseball game. I could give a rat’s ass. Half the time I don’t know which sport the names of these various teams attach to. When I watch sled-dog racing on TV, I do hope someone wins, and if I know one of the people (you, in this case), I hope it will be them to win because they work so hard. But mostly I imagine what a great adventure it would be to be out there, skimming along the snow, listening to the squeak and thump of the sled, watching the trees, the mountains and the general scenery go past, watching your little friends pull their hearts out for you. Actually, they’re probably running because it’s deep in their ancestral wolf genes and they’re dreaming about catching a moose or a caribou in the end.
A good friend of mine, whom I built a basket sled for around 1975, before the current Ptex-bottomed toboggan sleds became common, wanted to run the Iditarod. He only had seven dogs, so knew he didn’t have a prayer of winning. He was instantly passed by everyone but Norman Vaughn, with whom he hung out with all the way to Nome, helping each other out, listening to Norman’s stories about going to the South Pole with –was it Byrd?. At any rate, I’m not sure which one won the red lantern but my friend came away with a lifetime worth of experiences on the Iditarod, enjoying a long camping trip and getting to know a true Alaskan character, which I imagine most of the other races didn’t have because they were so busy trying to go so fast. There are different ways of being “best,” and you are already a winner at one of those to my way of thinking: you are the absolute BEST at taking such loving care of your dogs, and to my mind that makes you a winner, hands down, regardless of which arbitrary “number” you come in at the end of a race. Knowing how competitive you are, I doubt if this will help you, but it’s just my humble opinion.
Putting on your English Major’s cap here, what does using *asterisks* around a word signify? Is it like a “quotation” mark? It seems like a relatively new form of punctuation that I didn’t learn as an English minor, but then I was a crappy student and may not have been listening that day. 😉
I can totally relate to the struggle of figuring out if your brain is telling you the truth or spreading lies. Yay depression and anxiety! But I’m happy that you’re taking time to remi d yourself of all the good things you have. Keep your head up, and go with your gut. You’re not alone. Onward!
we’re on the journey with you, will. the setbacks and learning curves included. we love the doggies too, and we know that for the dogs to live their best lives, you have to have a very active role as a parent, coach, teammate, supporter, etc.
as a human, finding the balance of all of those things, especially as they coexist with your own personal internal life and self, is a constantly-evolving process.
we’re excited to be part of your journey. we aren’t here because we think a team or a sport is a polished and finished product. we’re here because we love to watch people and animals learn and grow and we’re all gratified by the progress made, even if it’s not where y’all place in a race.
pushing through complicating events and gaining a deeper understanding (or just knowing when to exercise your understanding) of what the dogs do and don’t need, what they are and aren’t ready for… that’s all part of the process that your friends and “fans” are here to support you through. same goes for what YOU do and don’t need, where YOU are and what YOU’RE ready for. we’re here to be supportive through it all.
the dogs are lucky to have you, and you are lucky to have the dogs. and those of us watching from home are lucky you are willing and able to share so much of yourself.
our support is not contingent on whether or not you succeed by a certain grading rubric.
Will, you have gone through some MAJOR life changes in the last year. Happy as I know you are about those changes, I would think that anyone would be simply overwhelmed with accepting your identity, starting T, surgery, getting married, working full time, taking care of the kennel, the homestead, the pack, Shawn, and yourself. THAT is a f*cking load of things to manage. I’m tired just typing it, I cannot even imagine actually DOING it all. Not going anywhere. You are doing what is going to be best for everyone in the long run. Please remember to be kind to yourself. You are doing AMAZING!
Will you are human. Don’t beat yourself up. Have you entered already? Can you start and stop well before it gets hard? Just do what would be a good experience?
And now I’m crying. I’m more proud of this decision and the place of self awareness it came from than any race. I’m also selfishly thrilled about the content level I’m about to enjoy! Lol You’ve disappointed no one. You’ve shown what it takes mentally and physically to even attempt what you do. Throw down the snow hooks and breathe. Pet some bellies and everyone take care and heal up this winter.
“Even though I haven’t done as much as I should, I’m simultaneously pushing myself too hard.”
Will, this is the hardest damn lesson to learn. Honestly. I’ve been there. Hell, I’m still there so often now. A few years ago I acquired the mother of all burnouts, and I just did not understand at all how on earth to balance this. How to give myself time when there was so much I should have been doing. Until I began to understand that “should” is not at all what I should be living by. But “could” is. I’ve done as much as I could and I won’t push myself too hard.
Do what you can. Do what’s fun. The dogs will understand. And so will your fans and community.
We support YOU as a musher, not as a racer. Sure yet races are a goal but NOT a requirement. Support is here to do what is best. You got this.
Will – I am here to watch you learn, grow and be the best you can be for, with and because of your team. Racing isn’t the important part. I celebrate you guys because you have priorities that I think would mirror mine. You haven’t failed us. I hope the dogs help you to find your place, your speed and your joy again.
I , for one, want you to know that any money I donate I consider to have no obligation. No buddy videos required – or races or anything except I guess keep the pups fed and you guys too. Beyond that? You owe us nothing.
Will, thank you for allowing me to tag along on your journey. I want you to know that I support ATAO out of an abundance of joy – never out of expectation. I’ve followed you and your team for the last 18 months or so, and I’m so grateful to see your journey. Your high regard for the pups and respect for your supporters exemplify the reasons people want to give to you and the team. The things you are learning and the muscles you are developing now will serve you for a lifetime of mushing (and caring for yourself.) If I could, I would somehow surgically transplant the grace and mercy that I feel (and I’m sure almost all of your supporters feel) directly to your heart and your mind – so you might know in the realest way possible that you have not let us down. In no way do I want to commandeer your story and make it about me, but I do want to affirm that you are not alone. My dog pack is actually a team of humans in an HR office. I try my best to care for them, coach them and train with them, so they are ready when the “race” comes. And, I fail every single day. I said multiple times today that I am failing in every category of my job. BUT, it doesn’t make me a failure. Just as you are not a failure. We are learning new things that will make us even better mushers going forward. (I am saying all of this to both of us, because I need to hear this too.) I’m learning to care for myself well, right alongside you. You are unique AND you are not alone – both are true. Your inner-critic is very familiar. Your commitment to the team rings true. I’m not yet sure about me and my success, but I’m damn sure about yours. You got this, Will. So glad you are seeking the joy in the thing you love!
Belly rubs and ear scritches,
Hi Will, nothing to forgive whatsoever! Don’t beat yourself up! As I said in my last comment, I’ve never understood the competitive aspect of sports, anyway, but have always enjoyed getting out in the woods, skiing, and a loooonnng time ago, running on friends’ sleds with borrowed dogs. I enjoyed the dogs, but not untangling them as I didn’t know them very well and they got themselves tangled up again. But anyway, just go for a run, let them trot along at their own speed, and enjoy the scenery going by. Have fun! Enjoy your dogs and Shawn (not necessarily in that order).
Best to you and Shawn; pat the dogs for us!
The puppers look healthy and happy and that’s a big accomplishment! Take the rest at the pace that suits you right now. We love ATAO!!
SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE (breath) EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
My experience of learning I have ADHD is very similar to yours! All of the sudden, so many things I felt/feel as base character flaws in myself have identifiable roots. Now I’m struggling with the feeling of having lost a decade of my life to executive dysfunction.
Keep it up Will; you’re never alone in this. Onward.
I so get the feeling of having lost time to that, and also frustration with not knowing what was going on.
Thank you so much <3 - Same to you you know?
This post makes me happy and hopeful. ❤️
OMFG I had noooo idea! I seriously thought that you had taken them out for a joy ride!!
This is beautiful Will. I’m SO happy that everypup is alright and also impressed with your excellent engineering and wonderful sled build. Onward and mush love!
This was such an amazing adventure tale. Thank you for sharing. I laughed so much at the descriptions of Mo being lifted into the bag. Atao adventures are the best.
“Meanwhile, Mo and Oli probably won’t make the Iditarod team this year.” Ha ha ha ha ha! This story made me happy cry. Thank you, Will, Oli and Mo for a rollicking goid adventure!
Wouldn’t be surprise if Oli and Mo, especially, now slept right through your whole Iditarod. They must be pooped.
“…sometimes he is not interested in coming inside when asked.” Ha ha ha ha ha! I like how you framed that. Glad everyone is OK.
What a wonderful story and brilliantly written!
Congrats Mo & Oli on your Yukon quest! Great sled, great build, great rescue, great story! 👏👏👏👏
Amazing story. I’m team Mo forever.
Great story telling of an amazing journey!
Well, that’s a perfect story! What a moment back then in the truck for you both. What a moment for you both on the trail. Just beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.
Love this. So happy for you!
Love your story. Thank you for sharing. Looking forward to more.
Beautiful story! I hope you are writing a book. Your story is truly one to be told. Congratulations to you and all of your team- human and canine.
I’m totally not crying after reading this, nope nope nope, it’s all lies, this wasn’t at all a moving piece of writing.
Damn you, Will. *wipes at eyes*
Really touched me. Thanks for sharing what was in and what was between words and time. Journeys rock. Inside and out.
Great story! I am so happy for you and your team. You have many more stories to tell and I look forward to reading them.
The picnic is fun but so anxiety filled for me and I’m just there to eat food and be the creeper staring/taking pics of all the mushers and listening in to all the conversations trying to catch the good gossip!
Hopefully we’ll bump into each other on Saturday!
Narrator: They did bump into each other on Sunday
There is a reason the flight attendant warns you to put on your oxygen mask first. It makes me angry that getting help is such a challenge. Please continue to take after yourself even when the red tape is discouraging. Nome isn’t going anywhere.
As someone who has to deal with several really annoying physical breakdowns, I can sympathize with your frustration.
Remember that you have been given a gift of time. Break it into small, easy-to-deal-with chunks. All accomplishments don’t have to be world shattering. Sometimes, just getting out of bed and petting a dog are enough on a really tough day (says someone who falls on my face sometimes when I try to bend over to pet a dog!).
Have a “dog of the day” to hang out with each day. It is very restorative.
Remember that you have blog followers as well as friends who send you wishes for healing and strength physically as well as mentally. In quiet moments you will be able to feel their caring coming to you.
Peace, love, and a return to good health,
Will and Shawn, I am on your side, and the side of ATAO Kennels. Guard your health, Will, get better and enjoy your dogs. As one with multiple autoimmune diseases, cancer twice, and other assorted lovelies, I do everything I can to stay busy. I stop short of exhausting myself, make sure to eat well, and get some exercise daily, if possible. This is not about me, Will, I’m just letting you know my experience in hopes it might give you an idea or two. Feel free to contact me, you or Shawn, on Instagram. I’m 66, married, and live in the South of the USA, Army brat.
Love to you and the team! Glad to be supporting such thoughtful, caring humans and wonderful dogs.
Well that was a rollercoaster of emotions to read. My heart goes out to all of you. Please take care of yourselves. I don’t interact much on Twitter anymore but I still love and support Atao. I wish for a better year for you all.
Thank you for sharing. Sometimes bad news is hard to share because you are trying to settle, to process, and even support feels like one more thing, when you don’t have energy for all the things you already have.
I have anxiety too and for me it’s the quiet times, the silence, when I can’t keep busy and I’m all too aware if the things I’m not doing that it hits the worst.
I hope it gets better. I won’t give advice but I will just say this. I support you. You have people who love and are rooting for you. And those anxiety thoughts might convince you that you owe everyone something, but your health and sanity are what matter most. Take care of yourself. And I’m hoping everything gets better for you.
Rooting for you and supporting your efforts are easy decisions. Just because you aren’t bleeding on the outside doesn’t mean everything is fine on the inside. There are a lot of things on your plate, when it feels like to much, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
Max looks so happy! Like all your decisions for the furry team members, you did great.
Heart wrenching. I feel for you, for the moose. You did the best you could by her. A quick passing and a gift to those who need her. She now becomes a part of everyone who partakes.
Take care of yourself, Will. Ask for help when you need it. One foot in front of the other. Onward!
Will, I was so engrossed reading this, and it brought back memories of the first moose casualty, which you wrote about with such reverence. Thank you for sharing your joys and your pain with this phenomenal community. ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ to you and Shawn and Emmy and the rest of the team!
Sheesh, Will that was quite an update. I’m glad everyone is okay after the moose and I’m truly sorry you had to do what you had to do. It was the right thing, but the hard and scary thing. I have to say though, that you are a gifted storyteller and I was riveted by the whole thing.
I miss you on the Tweeters but totally understand your need to step back. I’m glad you are in a better place with better focus and I hope you’ll keep us updated as the projects proceed.
Love you, Shawn and all the ATAO gang.
P.S. Thanks for the Cassidy poster!!
Oh, my friend, so sorry for all the stress lately and the loss of dear Mo. We miss you over on Twitter but I was hoping you and Shawn were taking care of yourselves and resting up for the next adventures. Your tale of the moose is absolutely harrowing and conveys much of how hard this was. I’m so relieved you are all safe and proud of all you did to keep the dogs safe. Can only imagine how hard that was!
We’ll be around when you need us or want to hang out. Or just send us an update like this, so we won’t worry.
I’m glad Max has a sweet home and more humans who love him.
Can’t wait to hear more about Shawn’s new pup.
Sending love to you all!
I’m very happy for you Shawn. You deserve to be comfortable in your own skin.
I am so happy and excited for you. I can’t wait to watch your journey and love your skin suit.
I’m late to the congratulations party because I don’t seem to see the important stuff in my Twitter feed anymore. I’m glad you’re doing something for you.
Astro’s head and ears look sooooooo soft!!! She looks like such a sweetie <3
She is SO soft and so sweet. Yet again, 10/10 perfect dog. I don’t know how we were so lucky to get 10/10 perfect dogs EVERY TIME
Yeah Belle!! Best summer ever!
I’m so proud of her and SO happy she is doing exactly what she is DESTINED for
omg, the nose! Astro’s nose looks extra boop-able in these new photos.
She has always had SUCH a boopable nose. It’s extra long, too!
Thank you for sharing updates on Furiosa. Glad to hear she is doing well with her own health and energy and in her relationships with other dogs and people.
She still thinks she’s immortal… And maybe she is!!!
Love this! So glad to hear the updates. ❤️
Fingers crossed for a race team for Will! (But later is fine too.)
When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four e-mails with the same comment.
Is there any wayy you can remove me from that service?
Hey kia, sorry for the delay, and sorry for the annoyance! I’ll see if I can disable that for ya. -WT
Always pleased to see how Furiosa is doing. Like Furiosa, Lennie turned 6 last year but continues to act like a big puppy (with distinguished white hairs in his eyebrows).
Will and Shawn-
While I can’t imagine the depth of this loss I am so sad to hear of Bonnie’s passing (and Linda). I know Hooch has greeted her with a whiff of indifference but a way as well. Always here to support the senior staff for as long as they are here
I’m so sorry! No matter how long they’re with us it’s never long enough.
Shawn is an elder angle for dogs that might never get homes. They have beds, and treats, and so much love!
Thanks for letting us know. Bonnie and Linda will always be with you. Bonnie will be leading the team on every rum
Thank you for sharing. Your love for both these magnificent creatures is so clear. They were lucky to have you.
This post makes my heart happy. I’m so glad to be a small part of your journey. Onward, friends!