Long Hard Trails and Sled Dog Tales is a memoir of sorts, an adventure story to be sure, and a look at what it’s like to follow a champion sled dog racing team across thousands of miles of Arctic wilderness. Award-winning author Helen Hegener hitched her wagon to a star: The legendary four-time Iditarod and Yukon Quest winner Lance Mackey, beginning with his fourth bid for the Yukon Quest title in 2008.
For the next several years she followed Lance and dozens of other mushers, many of whom became close friends, across Alaska and the Yukon Territory. She founded Northern Light Media, which produced the DVD Appetite and Attitude: A Conversation with Lance Mackey, and published the books Yukon Quest Album, All Alaska Sweepstakes, Along Alaskan Trails, and others. She has produced two Mushing History Conferences, and is among the founders of the Northern Lights 300 sled dog race from Big Lake to Finger Lake and return.
In this newest book, scheduled for publication in the winter of 2014, Helen shares her adventures paralleling the sled dog trails, with quotes from the notebooks and journals she kept while traveling. But going beyond the exciting sled dog races, she also gives readers the backstory of her life as founder and co-publisher of a leading publication in alternative education, and the riveting nationally-watched lawsuit which cost her that business; the ‘long hard’ part of the trail…
Excerpts from each chapter of the book are shared at the book website, illustrated with photos (which will not appear in the book). Click the titles to read each chapter excerpt:
Chapter 1: McCabe Creek – It’s three AM in the middle of nowhere and it’s my turn to watch for them. I scan the dark snowy landscape outside the car, note that all the black shadows are still in their proper places, and go back to watching the northern lights shimmer across the sky.
Chapter 2: Bannon Creek – I missed a lot of school when I was growing up, and the last grade I actually completed was the sixth – barely. My attendance record was shot full of holes, and things went downhill from there.
Chapter 3: Dawson City – If I slowed my walk down and closed my eyes, I could almost imagine it was a hundred years ago, and the mushers thronging the streets were freighters, miners, mail carriers, fresh off a long hard trail and looking to make deliveries or to restock their meager supplies before setting out again on another trail, for another lonely snowbound settlement.
Chapter 4: Pelly Crossing – Arriving at the Pelly checkpoint shortly after midnight, Anderson’s dogs appeared exhausted. They laid down and waited with their noses on the snow for him to go through his drop bags and fill his cooler with hot water. When Mackey arrived half an hour later his team looked more lively, but as he rummaged through his drop bags and snacked the team, Lance was still concerned about having cut their rest times to stay in the running with Ken.
Chapter 5: Wauconda – The decision to produce a video about the champion dog musher Lance Mackey was made in late 2007, as other opportunities for our new business were also breaking. At dinner one evening our friend Donna Quante asked if we’d like to go to Nome.
Be sure to follow the site for updates on new excerpts. The book is planned for publication in the winter of 2014.