The rest of the trip took us through some remote areas of beautiful mountains, forests and some sheer drop offs if you got too close to the edge. Near the top of the pass we turned around in what Doug called the helicopter pad. If it was a landing zone, it was big enough to land and park three helicopters. The snowmobiles had been up here and had a field day running up the pass and taking a jump from the road to the pad. John had already taken the turn and was approaching me, heading back to the ranch as I got to the area. I did not see his trail as we turned in and my leaders cut the turn short dragging the back half of the team, the sled and me into the deep snow beside the trail. The last six dogs were up to their bellies with their feet uselessly flailing in the deep snow. I got off the runners to turn the sled and immediately went down through the harder top crust into the soft snow below. The snow was up to my chest and my feet were still not touching anything solid. It was like quicksand sucking my boots off and beckoning me to stay through the spring thaw in June or July. I would have no part of that! The dogs, the sled, me and all my
equipment would leave this mountain. It would not win. I climbed, clawed and pulled myself out of the snow and back onto the runners. We were too heavy for the leaders to pull. I had to inch us closer to the road. As more dogs made it to the road, they were able to pull us. I turned the sled over on its side and lay across it to keep the dogs from jerking it away from me. That is what had happened last year. When I fell off the sled, it had stayed upright on its runners and the dogs had no trouble leaving me behind. Doug had fashioned a safety loop on the handlebar that I put my left hand through so that if I fell off, I would pull the sled over on its side. The drag would cause the dogs to stop long enough for me to get up, right the sled and get back on. As the last dogs cleared the deep snow, the safety loop was getting tighter and tighter around my left wrist. Back on the road and heading home, I checked he time on my watch. The mountain had won; they almost always do. It had claimed it’s prize, my watch and with it, my wedding ring. I had been wearing the ring on the watch band to keep it from getting lost. I had lost so much weight that it slipped off my finger easily and frequently at the wrong times. Until now, the watch band had been the safest place to keep it.