For some people, March means the NCAA Tournament and all the office pools and mascot dances that this implies. But for some of us, it means the Iditarod, the annual 1,000-mile dog sled race between Anchorage and Nome, Alaska, the most insane and extreme sport in the world during which mushers and their dogs race through the cold for close to two weeks with almost no sleep. What’s a basketball game compared to that? The Iditarod began in the late 1960s to preserve the sport of dog sledding, which was in danger of being eclipsed by snowmobiling. It’s succeeded: Dog sledding has spread down to the Lower 48 and is an awesome way to get around should you find yourself in the frozen north. Plus, it involves dogs!
I am far from the only person who keeps up with dog sledding through the Twitter feed of Blair Braverman, a writer and musher who regularly posts wonderful stories about her dogs both from the trail and at home in northern Wisconsin, where she lives and trains the dogs with her husband, Quince Mountain. (Flame is the best dog, and I will fight anyone who disagrees.) They are so damned inspiring that I voluntarily went out on a mushing expedition myself last week.
Last year Braverman ran the Iditarod. This year it’s Mountain’s turn. He was sponsored by his and Braverman’s online fans, known collectively as the Ugly Dogs. He’s also the first openly trans musher to run the Iditarod.
Some of the Ugly Dogs showed up in Anchorage yesterday morning to see Mountain off. And one of them, Nicki Porter, brought cheesecake at the suggestion of her partner, known in Twitterland as LSF.
Porter and LSF ended up giving away more than 30 slices of cheesecake in paper bags. Mountain got eight. I don’t know about the nutritional components of cheesecake and how well it keeps a body heated out there in the Alaskan wilderness, but, well, my heart is a little larger and warmer right now, and knowing what I know of Mountain from Twitter, I’ll bet his is, too.