Into the belly of that rough beast…


Here is a piece from my dog mushing adventure story Ballad of the Northland–I think it’s very appropriate to include this segment here given the fact that the front-runners are now negotiating the stretch I share in the story. I wrote this piece from the heart, and truly believe every top driver in the Iditarod field has had a similar experience going over that epic mountain pass.

In the following segment of my book, the hero of the narrative leaves Rainy Pass in first position in a howling windstorm just after night has fallen…

……the wind came out of the blinded steppes with a kind of bludgeoning madness, and still they climbed. Between granite snow-capped peaks that raised yet further to pierce the bellies of the clouds, unseen in the dark, but felt like the existence of a great hulking creature ready to pluck them from the face of the world. The trail wound them through a sudden forest of standing boulders and the rough ridges of exposed feldspars. Through slotted eyes, The Boy observed his dogs pitching into this maelstrom, ears planed out and stumbling, stroboscopic images of the brothers Titan and Legend earning their namesake as they plunged through the drifts.

And then the wind stopped, as suddenly and decisively as if some mighty breaker had been thrown. They had won their way to the summit of Rainy Pass. They emerged from a tumult of driven snow into a world of utter stillness, and The Boy’s weak headlamp beam now flared across a moonscape of jutting rock and scoured frost, looming shapes rendered in dead negative. It was so cold here in this place that clumps and fragments of snow hung in the air without motion, dreamlessly suspended in time. Overhead, glimpsed between a pair of gaping granite jaws, a river of crimson undulated across an ocean of flashing stars…

It doesn’t sound like the weather should be as bad as I’ve just described going over the Pass tonight–but it certainly has been known to be…

Most of the front-runners will leave R. Pass and stop for another rest at Rohn–if they do, you can bet that those same drivers will come off the straw and push all the way to Nikolai. If it’s not too cold, I imagine that a number of good teams will grab straw bales, food & fuel from Rohn and light out for Egypt Mountain to take the equivalent rest, then continue on to Nikolai themselves. The only practical difference between the two strategies will be preference of camp site & creature comforts, and breaking the total mileage between R. Pass & Nikolai into more manageable chunks.

Thanks for tuning in–more to follow…

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8 Responses to “Into the belly of that rough beast…”

  1. WOW Jason, what powerful words!!! I need to buy the book!!! I loved your blog today!

  2. Thanks man

  3. glad you are back!
    still going to be on the yukon radio show?

  4. good job on air jason
    thought your analysis on lance was very interesting

    • Sorry about being so tardy with my replies–it has gotten very hectic here! Glad you enjoyed the show–I’ll be on Mush You Huskies every night at six Mountain Time for the next ten days or so.

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