Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Yukon Alone – John Balzar
In 1996,musher Bill Stewart was forty miles from the finish line and running smoothly in third place. He was, of course, exhausted. But everyone was. He'd been depleted for days. With a secure grip on the handlebars and a forgiving trail, mushers sometimes allow themselves to snooze. They talk about it in terms of distance, not time, as in, '"I think I got about five miles' sleep'"
But who knows what happened to Stewart this time? He says he met the old veteran Frank Turner on the trail, and Frank was not happy. Frank claimed this was his private trail and said Stewart was encroaching. "Besides, you're going the wrong way," Frank told him.
Bewildered, Stewart turned his team around and mushed off the way he'd come. Awhile later, he met another dog team head-on' "Hey, you're going the wrong way," the driver told Stewart. Damn, this is a confusing trail, he thought. Again he dismounted, grabbed his lead dogs, and turned around.
By now Stewart knew he was tired, probably too tired to continue. He dwelled on that thought, and then came upon an old friend standing by the trail. Sensing that Stewart was about to collapse, the friend pointed him to a guest lodge located nearby in a grove of trees.
Thank God, said Stewart. Without regard to his place in the race but obsessed with the idea of a warm bed with sheets, Stewart trod to the lodge and checked in to the best room in the house.
Musher Mark May, who was running behind Stewart, found the man later, sprawled unconscious in the snow. May discovered him only because Stewart's abandoned dog team was sitting in the trail. May followed the boot tracks and found Stewart lying on his back, snoring at 25 below in the cosy warm bed of his dreams with a pillow of drift snow.
Stewart had hallucinated the lodge. He had not really seen Frank Turner. His friend was five hundred miles away, at home.
The source of the experienceAthlete
Concepts, symbols and science items
Activities and commonsteps
OverloadsExperiencing earth forces
Sleep deprivation, insomnia and mental exhaustion