Two Years In Willow, Alaska
For whatever reason, I have just begun to reminisce on the past two years that the Freeborn dogs and I have been living in Willow, Alaska. From the very beginning of our time here, we have truly relied on the kindness and hospitality and friendship of the wonderful people and dogs that live here. Linwood Fiedler and his family welcomed us, back in the fall of 2017, with a smile and warm hug, which we desperately needed at the time. I've only been alive on this planet for 29 years (will be 30 in three weeks!), but there is no one I've met as genuine and kind hearted as the Fiedlers. It is difficult to even be typing this right now, because of the emotions that are flooding over me from all that they have done. They saved us.
I put together this compilation of videos that I have taken over the past two years, images of our daily life/shenanigans/running dogs/dogs parties in the cabin/and a series of videos from our 2018 Iditarod run. I put them together in chronological order, so view them as a time lapse of all the wonderful things we have done and accomplished with the help of so many beautiful people. You all.
Ya know, as I glued these clips together over the last couple of days, it really forced me to think retrospectively. You guys, I'm really sad to have to leave this place and these people. I know I will see them all again down the trail, but it really is the end of yet another chapter. I have been stapled to the Iditarod tracker, following Linwood and Alison and Mats and Jessie and all the teams that I love to watch run, and I WAS jealous. I told everyone that asked prior to this years race, that I did NOT wish that I was out there on the trail. I was lying. I really missed it, and following the tracker AND digging up these videos from my own run in 2018 reminded me just how much I love this sport and the lifestyle. I am an addict.
At this point, I am not thinking too far into the future. We have a lot of work ahead of us with this homestead build and getting ourselves settled up in Ester, but the back of my mind continues to ring with thoughts of future races and expeditions with my OWN team of Freeborn dogs. How cool would that be?! How successful can we be? To what capacity do we really want to run? I wish I had the answer to those questions, and I wish I could let you all know exactly what our future holds, but I can't right now. Will we run Quest in a few years, or Iditarod? Perhaps we will research epic expeditions to go tackle outside of the racing scene.
'One run at a time, Tim' - Says my sub conscience.
Well, If my life is anything like Linwood's, I have another 40 years of traveling the Alaskan wilderness with my dogs. Then again he is quite a legend, one that I might not be able to live up to. He has left me with many lessons, but one that is branded into my mind, goes like this: At 65 years old, to not only be competing at the highest level of the longest dog race on the planet, but to be in the front of the pack with some of the healthiest looking dogs out there, you must have that unbreakable bond with the spirit of your dogs. I have heard it said that what made Lance so successful, was not the genetics or diet or conditioning of his team (although those are KEY components), it was the bond he shared with the dogs.
So, here's to 40 more years of wilderness travel by dog team, and all of the heart that it contains.
I hope you enjoy this video!