A vintage year and an old story

I am spurred into action this morning by my good friend Joe Henderson’s post about me on his blog over at www.alaskanarcticexpeditions.com, if you haven’t read his stories before you should, they are essential reading for all things alaskan malamute and real arctic travel.

I was lucky enough to be back travelling with Joe and the team after a gap in 2011 and what a vintage year 2012 was. The Arctic and the Arctic travelled in the company of 22 boisterous, feisty and enthusiastic alaskan malamutes is such a joy and one hell of a life tonic!

Meet the team 2012—Farmer, Shorty and Champ in lead (L to R), closely followed by Dino, Hippy and Texas and in the third row we can, just, see Mitch and “little” Savage followed by 14 more team mates.


At the heart of an expedition is their lust for travel, they are just as curious as Joe and I to see what lies round the next mountain, bluff or creek and that’s the thing about such an old and, I think I can say this, cultured breed as the alaskan malamute, they make ideal team mates to us humans.

This year I often travelled out in front of the team on ski or snowshoe, a fantastic place to be and the best place to appreciate what the dogs are doing. It’s also a demanding, heart pounding experience, the vim and pure vigour of the dogs is continuous, their panting and excitement is in your ears and on your tail, almost catching you and leaving me little space to grab a picture!


On some days, particularly later in spring, when the snow is right for modern cross country skis, I have the edge on the dogs and I can put a comfortable distance between them and me and it gives me a little space to reflect and roam in my imagination—it’s remarkable how we have been moving as one entity for weeks, humans and dogs walking and jogging, so closely attuned, matching each others pace and ardour. It can feel like we were made for each other, like we are one pack, and to a large extent that is the truth—malamutes, as one of the most ancient breed of dogs, have been our companions, and we there’s, for an extraordinarily long time in an interdependent relationship. A relationship that has allowed both humans and malamutes to flourish in what would otherwise be a very hostile environment.

Looking at the team now—Farmer, Shorty, Champ… and Joe too—I remember, and I say this with no exaggeration, that we are seeing just the tip of a very ancient story.


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