Yesterday I got up really early and started putting everything together to go on my longest run with the dogs yet. Six hours out, six hours rest and six hours back. Total of 100 miles. I packed my sled with everything that is needed including the cooker to boil water for the dogs feedings, sleeping bag and survival gear.
As the dogs and i set out on this journey it was easy to see when the sled has some extra weight it handles differently. Mostly when we are going downhills it doesn't steer as well making me over shoot the turn and hit whatever is there. Not always a bad thing however the trouble comes when you are caught by surprise and do not have time to prepare. Over shooting the turn into fresh powder I had a rude awakening when there was a smaller tree stump only standing about 4 inches off the ground with a diameter of less than two inches.
I know what you're thinking. Why would that be so bad? The way my sled is designed is there is a storage section in the front and back, with me standing in the middle. I have a break to slow me down when standing on it called a drag break. Essentially the drag break is a thick rubber door mat with spikes sticking out of the bottom to catch the snow and ice slowing the sled down. Now the problem comes when you run over small tree stumps your foot can sometimes get thrown back off the drag map making contact with the moving ground, pulled underneath the back part of your sled. As this took place I yelled for the dogs to woo and lied forward off my sled onto the ground so not to make my food to a 90 degree turn as it gets dragged under.
As the dogs stopped I laid there in the snow taking stock of my situation. Never breaking a bone before I slowly moved my foot out of my boot and placed it raise up on the cooler attached to my sled. Giving time for the adrenaline to disapate I slipped my sock off to examine the area of my foot where was pain emerging. After several mins I decided to stand and see how it feels. Going through my mind was how Ken's client last year broke her leg from dog sledding last year ending her season. Preying it wouldn't end my dog sledding plans, I put weight on the foot and could feel a sharp bearable pain coming from one section on the outer side of my left foot. Thinking I may have dodged a bullet I started walking up and dog the gang line checking on the dogs and distributing their meal. With the pain being bareaable I decided to keep sledding and nurse the foot through the remaining 40 miles to the cabin and the return 50.
Once at the cabin I could still feel the pain however it wasn't slowing me down. Got the dogs ready for their nap and took one myself. When I awoke, I could see my foot had swelled and was in more pain. Pushing though I decided I would take it extremely slow on the way home to avoid any chance of making it worse. Sledding though the night and arriving home at 6:00 am. I did a couple conference calls for work, lite a fire and went to bed. After sleeping 4 hours I called mom and explained the foot was still hurting and she more than advised me to get an X-ray. Without having insurance in the states I called several places in Fairbanks to find a suitable price. I made the 50 min drive to the location where I was created by a super friendly staff excited to charge be the $500 it would cost. After getting the x-ray I was in the waiting room playing over scenarios on what to doctor could tell me. This whole dog sledding trip is costing me close to $30,000 and the last thing I would want to hear is you should take a few months off ending my season. The doctor came is and said it looks like you have some soft tissue damage and could have hurt your ligament. Sometimes this can hurt more than a broken bone and take 9 months for the pain to go away. I asked the obvious question, "so I can still sled tho right". He said yes!
I chalk this up as another situation where life always works out. Sled on my fiends. Sled on.