On the Road Again #8


Yes, we’re still on the road in the beautiful state of Minnesota–we plan to arrive home in Montana on the 9th of February…only to re-pack our bags and head up the Alaska Highway and attend the opening ceremonies of the The Last Great Race!

To keep you all entertained, I’m going to share with you a little story I wrote a few years back, about my first Iditarod back in the early 90’s. It’s a fairly long story, and I’m breaking it into 4 (or maybe 5) segments; here is the first–

Rookie by Jason Barron

Part 1

‘All right Barron, here’s the plan. It’s time to get back in the game. We’re going to stay here for the rest of the day,

Image courtesy of Harmony Barron

wait until it cools down a little bit, than we’re going to push straight through all the way to Iditarod. Those front-runners won’t be expecting that, they won’t even know what hit them….’

That was my friend and running mate Joe Garnie, laying out his/our objectives for the coming evening. It was about 11:00 in the morning and the sun was up and blazing with a ferocious heat uncommon for this time of year. The two of us were in Ophir, sitting on our coolers next to his heavy freight style sled and eating a meal of seal oil and muktuk, his team of 16 ruggedly furry dogs stretched out in front and sleeping like babies in the swelter. My team was not nearly as impressive. I was already down to 10 dogs and they were both mildly sick with some bug they had picked up from the trail, and tired from being improperly run and managed by such a dumb ass rookie as myself.

This was 1993, my rookie year in the Iditarod, and I only had a couple of things going for me in the positives column. Beebee and Pilot, my two lead dogs, had been purchased a few years earlier from the Mackey brothers, Jason and Lance, and they were effectively idiot proof; they went left when you said Ha, and they went right when you said Gee, and most importantly they went no matter what. Joe Garnie had started training a year earlier out of Willow, near to where my family lived, and spent a great deal of time training on the same trails as Dad and I, even camping out for weeks at a time on our couch or living room floor. In many ways, he had taken me under his wing and spent a great deal of his time imparting his vast store of knowledge upon me-a legacy which lives on today sixteen years later in my modern-day race aspirations. I considered Joe to be one of the finest dog mushers in the business for that day and age, and the only thing that has changed over the years is that my esteem for the man and his abilities have ratcheted up about ten notches. And lastly, I was as tough as I was green. This was crucial, though I did not know it at the time. The Iditarod trail had a series of challenges in store for me in the days ahead that would break me down into my component parts, and remake me in some new and unforeseen way.

Nobody, rookie nor twenty year veteran, emerges from the forge that is the Iditarod unchanged….

Thanks for tuning in–more to follow….

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2 Responses to “On the Road Again #8”

  1. Marlene Phillips-Daniels Reply February 2, 2011 at 09:37

    Jason, I really enjoy the stories of your early days and the times about becoming a musher the very best. Your writing makes them come alive. I visualize as I read and your writing is certainly a key to brilliant pictures.

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