IN THE TRADITION OF INTO THE WILD, HERE IS A STORY OF DARING AND
DETERMINATION IN ONE OF NATURE''S HARSHEST, LONELIEST, AND MOST
The Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race is among the most
challenging and dangerous of all the adventure contests in the
world. In February, a handful of hardy women and men set out from
Canada''s Yukon Territory for Alaska''s remote Interior with teams
of fourteen dogs. Ahead of them lie 1,023 miles of frozen rivers,
icy mountain passes, and spruce forests as big as entire states.
Some mushers will try for victory. Many hope simply to finish. In
the darkness of seventeen-hour nights, temperatures drop to 40
degrees below zero, and sometimes rescue may be days away.
Why would anyone want to run this race? To find out,
award-winning journalist John Balzar, himself an adventurer, moved
to the Far North months in advance of the Quest. He trained and
lived and caroused with these intrepid people who have abandoned
the comforts and routines of the lower forty-eight states. The
result is a vivid day-by-day account of this adventure that also
offers an insightful look at the exhilaration and travail of life
on the distant edge of the North American frontier.
Among the colorful personalities competing in this year''s race
is Aliy Zirkle, a twenty-eight-year-old former college
track-and-field hammer thrower and a sometime wilderness biologist.
Aliy is one of four women, all rookies, who will be running the
Quest this year. Like a lot of "new" Alaskans, Aliy came north for
what was going to be a temporary stay. She ended up settling above
the Arctic Circle in the village of Bettles, population 45. We also
come to know Paddy Santucci, who embodiesthe character of the Far
North: at thirty-seven years of age, he is an accomplished
mountaineer, hunter, bush pilot, construction worker, and dog
driver. Paddy never seems to eat or sleep, seldom speaks, rarely
smiles, but has rigorously prepared for the race and commands
respect from those who understand the life-and-death arts of winter
bushcraft. As we follow Aliy and Paddy and others, we are given an
understanding of the fascinating bonds between humans and the
majestic dogs whose strength and devotion have made them the true
heroes of the story.
Yukon Alone tells a tale that has all the danger and drama of
the landscape through which the mushers and their dogs run. Anyone
who has ever dreamed of wild country will be inspired and
entertained by this adventure of a lifetime.