I think we mushed for about 4 hours stopping only for those dog problems. This is me coming into where we were going to camp. Yep, me, not a Yety.Ok, so Pam and I have done our 'jobs' and finally, ravenously, eaten some of the food we brought, and have time to bed down in sleeping bags in our sleds. Now THAT'S WHEN I GOT COLD. I mean, COLD. We actually slept a little, I think, but I spent most of that time adjusting myself to get my hands warm. No way. And, now I know why Iditarod mushers get so little sleep. And, it's warm here compared to what they are experiencing. So, I layed there and enjoyed to sky full of stars and being amazed at where I was, really taking it all in in the immense silence. I loved it.........but the cold was increasingly creeping into every particle of my being.....and it wasn't even windy. I finally had to get up and walk around to warm up a bit. That helped, but it was still pretty uncomfortable. We made the decision to not go for another several hours as we had planned, but to head on back to the truck, about 5 miles away. (We had made a big loop and could go straight back, or increase the distance of the loop). That is when real trouble started. When we got the dogs up, (actually when we got up, the dogs did, too), the dogs in front got in a big tangle, and we had a major time getting them straighted. Mean time, the other team started the 'boying and girling' again. That meant tangle on their team, and more waiting...........remember.........it is really cold............but ......we're warming a little because we are working so hard........but...........most of it has to be done with gloves off........then gloves back on to warm up, then gloves off to work again. Running the dogs is FUN, taking care of the dogs is WORK.
By the time we were ready to leave, my headlamp had burned out, and my musher didn't have one, so I had my little headlamp only, and we were running behind the other team. My lamp got dimmer and dimmer, and the other team got pretty far ahead. My leaders seemed confused, and didn't want to keep going and I kept having to encourge them. Then, we realized something was wrong, one of the middle dogs was on the ground and the team was running pretty fast. I put on the brakes hard and stopped the team. My helper jumped out of the sled and ran up to the injured dog, and hollared back, "She's not breathing!" Now, I put down the snow hook, and stomped it in tight. It wasn't holding good, cause we were on a pretty packed trail and there was ice underneath, nothing to grip to. She ;was out there ahead in the dark, no headlamp, and my light didn't shine that far. The rule is, "Never leave the sle", but, what should I do?" I talked to her a bit, and she decided to carry the dog back to the sled. I got scared, thinking maybe she shouldn't move Reba, stopped down the snow hook, and went to help her. I got there, and as we lifted Reba, we saw she was breathing again. Evidently, had the wind knocked out of her, but she was pretty lethargic. We were carrying her to the sled, the team was line up nice and behaving well, but when they saw us up and moving toward the sled, they all took off, big time at once. They pulled the snow hook and off they went. My helper grabbed at the brush-bow with one hand and dog in the other, but it slipped out. I ran as fast as I could, jumped on a runner and grabbed the bar, and slipped, and off went the team with us lying on the ground. We had just crossed a road a bit before, so started to walk back there, hoping our dogs would follow the other team.