Here along our section of the old Historic Iditarod Trail we came oh, so close to experiencing our all-time record winter snowfall. Just going by memory of what I’ve read, the all-time, set in the mid-1950s, was a skiff over 130 inches. We’re finishing winter somewhere around 128.
It’s been enough to move the mayor’s office to warn folks repeatedly to clear roofs. All over the area are cases of structures going ker-splat under the accumulated tonnage. This one pictured occurred so close to our place we could almost hear the trusses crrrreeaak, grrroooaann, then explode and land with a humongous ka-whumpp! that musta pretty well ruined someone’s day.
After several days of hunting and hard packing, we had our winter’s meat supply hauled in from the two kill sites to our lake camp. Early next morning, my younger brother Alan and I, with our four pack dogs, pulled out bound for the highway with the larger of the boned-out young moose on our backs. Alan bent under 110 pounds. I, the big brother, was humping 140. Each of the huskies lugged around 40 in his panniers. Dog Woman—we always liked to have a “dog woman” or “dog man” along to keep the dogs quiet back in camp while we hunted—stayed behind to guard the second moose from bears. We figured to make the five miles to the highway, return to the camp in good time, and get our second load out by dark.
It was shaping up as an unusually warm fall day. Sweat ran in rivulets from every pore. With no rest stops, in but two hours our procession arrived at the ancient International Scout, parked hidden in the timber from the many sets of snooping eyes that would have loved to discover the Perry’s trailhead. Bone dry thirsty, as we spread out the meat bags over a latticework to allow air circulation, we guzzled down the only drinks found at the truck: One quart of grape juice, and one quart of pure, thick prune juice per packer hit our empty stomachs, dehydrated systems, and hot, racing metabolisms.
My inbox is still smoking from the urgent appeal just in. Sender is my friend, that wonderful, internationally-adored darling of the Iditarod Race and perennial top contender, DeeDee Jonroe. She’s urgently soliciting prayer from the multitudes making up the vast Iditarod family for her neighbor George Murphy, just landed on Providence Hospital’s helipad, and fighting for his life in the emergency room. George is a legend here in the North, a great bush pilot who not only flew race dogs, mushers, supplies, and media during his almost thirty years winging the trail in the Iditarod Air Force, but served a stint as Chief Pilot.
Now George, 82 years of age, with a six-inch-long gash to the head running blood like a faucet, with his heart bruised and other possible internal injuries, seven of his ribs smashed in, his leg lacerated, was at risk for even holding on until reaching Anchorage, and would have almost certainly been headed for the morgue instead of raced by chopper to emergency had not a very remarkable someone else been fighting for his life.