On Wednesday, I had a pretty decent run with the kids - we did a 20 mile back to back training with each team Tuesday and Wednesday and this second day they all ran beautifully, showing no signs of being tired. But in the middle of the run it started to rain and by the time we were home bound it was pouring.
It left me clueless as to how the main road is going to look like, and once we entered it, I knew we were in trouble.
|on the forest roads, everything was fine, despite the rain|
Although I am very cautious person and do all I can to prevent dangerous situations when training and generally handling the kids, there wasn´t much more I could do in terms of safety. The road turned into a mirror made of glare ice, polished by the water from the non-stopping rain. Although I drove from the forest road onto the main one very slowly, the ATV got out of control and only the sides of the bridge stopped it from sliding down the hill into the deep void underneath. My heart jumped frantically, as I knew this wasn´t good. I stopped at a spot by the side of the road, with grass (and thus grip for the wheels) to think for a moment. The kids were calm and thankfully, having only 4km left from the long run, they were thankfully in no hurry to get the ATV moving.
Quickly evaluating the situation, I realized that my first thoughts of asking my handler Katka to come pick us up with the dog truck would bring even more trouble. No car could drive on this safely, which confirmed later that night when even the road workers truck, trying to make the road at least a bit passable, slid off right in the middle of our village. Luckily, it ended well.
Back to my thinking, I realized we are stuck in here and the longer I wait, the more eager the dogs will become to get going again, especially knowing we are so close to home and warm meal and straw beds.
I knew the only way was to try to get home.
My heart was wildly pumping as we started the 4km march towards home, knowing every single spot along the road so well and realizing where the biggest risks await. And the fact that it was already dark did not add much positive to the situation.
The last uphill section was tougher than I thought and the quad kept sliding closer and closer to the edge of the road, despite my efforts to keep it straight and going forward. The dogs had a hard time on that uphill to not slide as well.
Then came the downhill section, which I really really feared. I saw the whole team and situation in a slow motion, like in a movie. Every single second and minute was thought out carefully as I worked on moving forward by gently pressing the throttle while driving the ATV in 2nd gear. The dogs didn´t protest and didn´t try to rock down the hill as we usually do. They too felt what was at stake and all were focused and disciplined perfectly.
I was praying we don´t meet any cars all the way until we turn off the main road again.
We made it down the hill and I saw and heard myself breathing heavily, as I tried to balance out the fast heartbeat. I wonder what my heart rate was at that moment :)
The next half kilometer was a relief for my nerves, time to recover and get ready for the next bridge over the Spjutviken creek that flows into the Vattudalen. The road is slightly downhill coming down to the bridge and what´s worse, it leans downwards a bit to the right (the side we were running on). Not good for us at all, knowing the siding of the bridge is tiny, very short and weak. But we managed to get through that one as well, mainly thank to the great leaders Ziggi and Magpie who made sure the teams goes straight and steady.
The straight stretch leading to the crossing where we turn off the main road back into the woods, tricked us as I thought it will be fine and the ATV started to slide and lose control in there too, but we somehow managed to get over that part as well.
The last and perhaps biggest challenge was the turn off to the forest trail, because normally I have to stop here and see if no cars are approaching from both sides of the road. And now this was not possible. If I hit the brake, we would start spinning without control. If a car came and tried to slow down, it would for sure start spinning. I prayed there will be no cars at the time we are there and the Great Universe and all our guardian angels heard my prayers, so the road was empty.
The dogs almost couldn´t cross the road, they slid and struggled to keep moving forward, but once the first few dogs reached the grass and gravel, the whole team got a grip and we got safely on the other side. It was awful.
I remember that the last time I had such fear, and such feeling in my legs and hands (which felt like pieces of lifeless rugs that did not belong to me) was when the moose attacked us few years ago.
I was so grateful to making it home safely and so thankful to the dogs, who once again proved that when the going gets tough, the tough get going and that when the fun stops, we all work like a team together, no fussing, no stubborn ideas, no mischief, just responsible team work for the good of the entire group.
And it is in those moments, when I realize over and over again, why I love dogs and animals, why I love working and sharing my life with them and what the bond and friendship we have means to me. It means the World.