One Woman\’s Epic Journey by Dog Team
by Pam Flowers and Ann Dixon
Pam Flowers fell in love with the remote, beautifully empty wilderness of the Arctic. She wanted to follow the footsteps of explorer Knud Rasmussen- traveling from Barrow, Alaska to Repulse Bay in Canada- crossing the entire width of the Arctic alone with her team of eight sled dogs. Lots of planning and preparation- training the dogs and herself in endurance, stashing caches of food, shipping supplies ahead to communities she knew she would pass through. Often she stored her items in a school and in return would speak to the students about her trip, about going through whatever it takes to make dreams become reality.
She accomplished her goal, but several times in the journey feared for her life. The cold she and the dogs could deal with, it was the relentless wind during one part of the year, and the early warmth of thaw at other times, that seriously threatened them. They faced whiteouts and early breakup, nearly drowning in attempting to cross a bay when the ice started rotting beneath them. It sounded terrifying. Twice she lost a dog, later her valuable lead dog became ill. They had a frighteningly close encounter with a polar bear, and several times encountered caribou or other wildlife that excited the dogs, causing trouble. Most times passing through native villages she was met with generous hospitality and helping hands, but a few times her visits were unwelcome. Kind of amusing was the time an Eskimo dog followed her out of one village, and wouldn\’t turn back. Later she found out this dog was famous for miles around, had a habit of tagging along behind whatever team came through.
Her story is told in a very straightforward fashion, drawn from brief journal entries I can only imagine she was often too exhausted or cold to write much at the end of a long day\’s travel. Still the vastness of the land and the stark beauty of it that inspired her is palpable. A woman who thrived on solitude, she speaks very fondly of the bond with her dogs. The story of her adventure is further detailed by side texts that describe various facts and history- everything from her daily routine to the effects of wind chill factor, how she planned for storms, what was behind certain abandoned structures she passed on her journey, methods she used compared to the Inuit and other natives, and so on. A very interesting and inspiring account.
Rating: 3/5 120 pages, 2001