Monday, March 2, 2015

Canadian Challenge - MacLennan and the Tears

Steve, Carol and myself arrive in MacLennan sometime after 12:30 in the morning on Wednesday.

MacLennan is a campground in the middle of nowhere.  There is nothing here except an outhouse that looks as though a murder took place there.  It is so horrible a small tent  with a bucket was erected to be used as the outhouse.  I personally used neither opting instead for a bush.

The people, angels, volunteers here were terrific.  Super friendly and fun to visit with.  They put up a tent with a wood stove inside so there was somewhere to get out of the cold besides a vehicle.
Photo Credit: Jim Williams

I crawled into the back seat of the truck once we were parked to try and have a nap.  I had gotten a bit of a chill and the truck was cold so it became impossible for me to sleep.  I broke out my hand warmers placing them in the small of my back hoping to warm myself up.
Nothing seemed to help.   I felt frustrated that sleep wasn't coming to me.  It didn't help that I kept checking the web site to see where Randy was on the trail.

Randy arrived at 3:26 the coldest part of the morning.  We left the dogs on the gang line undoing the neck lines so they could curl up on beds of straw.  We covered them in blankets and dog coats to keep them as warm as possible.
The cooker was pulled out and a warm soup was made for the kids.  Most of them ate well.  A few were just too tired.  They all slept curled into little balls.

I sent Randy off to have a sleep and he ended up in the backseat of the truck while Steve and Carol took the front seats.  This time Steve had the truck running on and off to keep the cab warm.

I spent a bit of time going down the line of dogs massaging ankles and shoulders and making sure everyone was warm and covered.   After this was done I was not sure what to do, or where to go.
Most mushers were in at this point.
We were still waiting for Greg and Laquasha.  There may have been others but those were the two at this point I had my eye open for.
It was here that I learned of Anna scratching but finding out everyone was okay after she had been out on the trail for a very long time, we were all getting very concerned.  Sometimes things happen that you have no control over and that is what happens with every scratch.  In Anna's case it was a lead dog having an issue and as a musher you make the call as to whether or not a team can carry on without certain dogs.
I was sad for Anna but knew she made the right decision in the best interest of her dogs.
Photo Credit: Scott Knudsen

I wandered over to the tent that was super toasty and stood inside having a visit with other handlers and volunteers.
It was warm, but at times would get very crowded.  So I would then head out for a walk and to enjoy the northern lights that had filled the sky.

Greg's team arrived at 6am and looked great.  They were camped next to us so I was able to peek a bit at his crew.  I'm sure at one point I saw Greg eating dog food... he assured me it was his breakfast, but when you've been up for over 24 hours your mind starts playing tricks, so I'm sure it really was people food he had.

My memory of events here starts to become a little hazy as my mind began to lock into sleep deprivation mode.
Randy woke up and the routine of walking dogs, massaging dogs and feeding dogs began.
We had some sore ankles and shoulders that needed some attention.  Wolverine still had a bit of a sore inner thigh, knee going on but it didn't seem as bad so he was massaged and his harness changed from the x-back to a shorty.
One dog who I cannot recall at the moment had a sore ankle.  It was rather swollen so it was massaged and wrapped.  It was due to this that Randy stayed a little longer at MacLennan.  We wanted to make sure no further injury would happen and to actually see if the swelling would come down in time.

I know I picked up a chill this morning and if I stood still too long I felt cold.  Keeping myself moving either with the dogs or wandering to the tent and watching out for Laquasha.

Laquasha had been out on the trail for a very long time and we were getting rather worried.  It turns out she had camped only a short distance away from here and rode in just after 9:00.

Checking on dogs again and with everyone looking great Randy finally left MacLennan at 11:13 for the wilderness checkpoints, Harolds Cabin and Fafards Cabin before making his way to La Ronge, with all 12 dogs on the line.
Photo Credit: Jessica Fielding

Once they were gone I could clean up the sight.  After raking up more straw and putting away supplies left laying around we could then leave MacLennan for La Ronge where a hotel with a bed and shower were waiting for me.

I don't remember the drive into town, I think I dozed in and out of sleep, but I don't really remember. I know that Steve likes to tell stories and chat up a storm so I tried my hardest to pay attention.
By the time we arrived in La Ronge I was feeling rather out of it.
Steve parked our trailer at the park where Randy would be arriving and dropped me off at the hotel which was way too far away from where we needed to be.

I couldn't wait to shower and crawl into bed.  I didn't even care that I hadn't eaten anything but a muffin since Tuesday afternoon.   
The tears began at this point.
I called my husband to give him a run down of events and burst into tears when I heard his voice.
I cried when I realized my blanket and pillow were still in the truck.
I cried because I felt cold.
I cried because my shampoo was frozen and I had to use the hotel shampoo.

Finally drifting off to sleep I awoke with a start a half hour later worried about the fact that I was not sure what time Randy would be in, or how I was to actually get to the race site from where I was.
This happened three times until I finally was able to speak to Bart to get a rough idea of how long it takes a musher to arrive... I needed to know what time to set my alarm.

I had set my alarm for 1 am.
But because of who I am I awoke 3 hours later at 11 to see that Randy had blown through Fafards. 
I wasn't sure exactly what time he would be in at this point so I got up, got dressed and organized... called a cab and head down to the trailer.

Amazing how refreshed 3 hours of sleep will leave one after being awake for 48 hours.

To call MacLennan a handlers hell is a little unfair.
It would be more the lack of sleep that made me feel this way.  

1 comment:

Mom Carole Forhan said...

Rochelle, you earned your money that's for sure! Wait a minute, I should say, if you got paid, you would have earned your money, that's for sure, haha! I think you are fantastic that you have such passion for this though. Good going!! xo