photo by Gail Palmer Perrin

Sunday, March 13, 2011

`Part Three` the last nine miles

 While we were around the fire, I had asked what had happened to Bruce. They told me he had held up at the Safety Station cabin. Bruce later told me that the boys had encouraged him to follow. Bruce then tried to follow, but then deciding what was best for his team, he decided to pull out. I wondered if the situation would be relayed to headquarters and if there would be a reply or a course of action. It was well after two hours hanging around the fire when all four of us heard a snowmachine approaching us from Fort Kent. It was Denis Cyr. Denis.C told us that everyone behind us was held up at the S.Station with Bruce. Although a snowmachine had cleared a path for us ,we all elected to stay put for five hours. It was important to all of us that we all went in with Happy Dogs. Denis .C. then said he was going to go around us and head for the S.S. to clear a path for the remaining mushers. Just before leaving, Denis.C. left us a small bottle of water and a half a bag of chips which we all graciously shared.
 Now were back at the fire. Then we heard a team approaching. It was Jamie. Jamie asked if she could pass. Because we weren`t expecting anyone else,( held up at the cabin) our dogs, sleds ,gear, cookers, fire going, etc were scattered all over a very tight trail. This is where not being able to speak french bothered me the most. Can I honestly say that having Jamie go by us wouldn`t have bothered me, well I`d be lying if I said no. I`m not really sure what my French friends thought of her ,but I don`t think they were keen on just clearing everything out of the way so that she could pass. Because it was such a tight trail and the dogs were resting comfortably there were concerns raised that if Jamie went through ,there was the possibility that some of the dogs would get disturbed, tangled or even hit by the oncoming sled. After an uncomfortable period of time ,it was decided that we would pack up and Jamie would follow us out. Jamie had also stated that she had no problem taking up the rear and that we would leave in the positions the teams were lying in. We took no haste in packing up, of course it took some time but we did the best we could. At the Banquet, Jamie told me that her team would have been unlikely to pass four teams lying down. Did she say this to humour me?  I don`t want to take anything away from Jamie, she has a career in this sport that far exceeds mine. I know up to the point that Jamie had caught up to us, it was no picnic for her either. It didn`t take long for the trail to blow back in with each passing team.
  We're packed, we're ready to go. At some point during our stay, it was discussed among my Quebec friends that we were going to change the order up while enroute. Immediately after pulling the hook, Denis assisted my team to help me get by, a little perplexed I carried on. André then let me pass. The team at this point were getting their legs back, we sure weren`t loping, but we were moving. Now were getting into the feilds, Martin tipped his sled over and let both André and myself pass. The thoughts of how selfless these men were being was overwhelming, tears were rolling down my face. Never have I witnessed such sportsmanship. I was a little leary on how my team would react to being out front again. I had visions of everyone right on my butt encouraging me to go when they could have very easily gone by. This type of victory didn`t settle well with me. But my dogs did well, very well. We held our own and set a good pace.
 Painfully and slowly the mile markers would reveal themselves. It was somewhere around the the two mile marker that I intentionally slowed down a bit. I was thinking how cool it would be if we rolled into Fort Kent convoy style. I turned to André to explain my intentions but he urged me to go. There was this one particuliar straight away where I had turned around to see how close my friends were. Behind André I saw Jamie, now I know why André was telling me to keep moving. To this moment I still don`t know how or why Jamie got passed Martin and Denise. It was discussed in the bush, that if a team were to lie down again, then by all means would a team be welcome to go on by, that included my own. I don`t know if their teams did lie down again or if once again their true sportmanship spirit relinquished the trail, I don`t know. I`ve tried to contact Amélie but have yet to hear a reply.
 At the Awards I graciously accepted my award. At the banquet I pulled Jamie aside and grasped her hand and asked her " Are you good with this and do we understand each other? " And without letting go of my hand she said, paraphrasing here " Yes I am and yes we do"

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