The above photo is my overall favorite, from a solo tour I attempted on the Iditarod Trail in March. My intent was to ride from Unalakleet to Nome, about 250 miles, over the course of a week. From the moment I rolled away from the Unalakleet Airport, the North Wind shut down every preconceived notion I had about this trip, and every shred of confidence I had in myself. The trails became so drifted in that I could scarcely locate them, and even if I could, I was scarcely strong enough to hoist the bike through knee-deep drifts that had the consistency of sand dunes as 30-50 mph winds continued to blast me in the face. It took me four long, extremely difficult days to cover 60 miles. When I turned around at Little Mountain Cabin, it was because Beat was returning to Anchorage with Steve after tragedy struck Steve's family. But even before I'd heard the terrible news, I was wavering on continuing any farther. I strongly doubted my ability to survive the sea ice crossing to Koyuk. I write about my fears frequently and overstate the odds of dying on occasion. That isn't the case here. Here I explored the situation from the most objective rationale possible, and I realized I wasn't strong enough, or experienced enough, to accept the risk of a 35-mile crossing with no shelter in that weather. I still feel that way. But I learned an incredible amount from this trip, and I actually feel more confident about taking on the journey to Nome because of it. I believe I'll make better decisions, knowing what I know now.
This photo, taken from a slough off the Shaktoolik River, represents the bewilderment and awe I felt in that vast, desolate place. It also represents the way I feel about 2015 — this year was about being a little bit broken, and a little bit frightened, but continuing to press forward with optimism that something better waited just beyond the horizon.
2010 part one, part two