To some extent the environment in which we live shapes us into who we are. Ive been asked several times if I am a traditionalist?
Apparently, because I travel by dogs in a very “traditional” way. Even though I didn’t try to mimic older equipment and traveling methods, it’s just these old methods were naturally created in my traveling strategy because it’s the only method that works in the arctic and deep snow backcountry.
Basically, I started dog mushing without any knowledge of it whatsoever.
No one had given me advice or tips on how to get started or dogmushing in general. I just “dove into it.”
I had sewn my first dog harness from moose and bear skin, built the first sled out of spruce poles while living in a cabin I built with an axe and my first team was three to five dogs. And I never ever rode on the sled because the thought of riding on the sled never crossed my mind. It didn’t make sense to me because I was fully capable of running, trotting, snowshoeing or skiing ahead or behind the team.
I just couldn’t wrap my head around this concept of standing on the runners and asking the dogs to exert their energy to haul my ass around.
Of course, after my team grew in size there were and are times when it isn’t an option. But this is a necessity rather than a demand.
And as my team continually grows in strength I still adhere to the basics. Which coincidentally is similar to traveling methods a century ago.
That said, I have modified much of the old methods like, the sleds: my sleds are built of different material and are over 3ft wide and 12ft long which are wider but similar length to the old sleds. And I never travel with a single sled regardless of the duration of my trip.
Aside from the US mail teams, single sleds were and are still the norm. And my hitch system is totally different than the old-timers’ hitches.
Interestingly my harnesses, except for a few modifications, are exact same design of a century ago. These old harnesses are still called the single tree harness. Nowadays I’m seeing them described in a different name but they are still the basic design that were used for at least 100 years.
Even my tent design is similar design the Inupiat used for many centuries. I actually designed the tent without any knowledge of the Inupiat design. I harvest, tan, sew and wear caribou fur clothing like the old-timers wore and my snowshoes are the classic design with a length of six feet long.
Its interesting how the environment shapes people whether it’s in modern times or a century ago.
I find it most interesting however that our Good Lord provides all we need to survive in one of the most brutal environments on earth.