The Yukon Ultra: Day 4 – A Sense of Isolation

The Yukon Ultra: Day 4 – A Sense of Isolation

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7th February

It was still dark. The fire was dying so I threw a couple of logs on it and got to work repacking my sled which I’d disorganised through the night. Filippo was nowhere to be seen and I really wanted to chase after him. I knocked on the cabin door, intending to register my time and then carry on. The race doctor, Rebecca, opened it and within what felt like seconds I found myself sitting at a table with a bowl of hot soup under my nose.

It wasn’t long before I was laughing and joking with her and the cabin’s other occupant, Jans. They told me there were only 5 athletes left in the 300 mile race. ‘I was really struggling last night though,’ I told them. ‘There are 3 other guys behind you who are struggling a lot more.’ Rebecca replied. Over the next 150 miles, that thought would keep coming back to me. 30 minutes after the soup, I said my goodbyes once more and left the checkpoint. But not before Rebecca got a photo of us with my lucky mascot. The sun was above the horizon by now and I had another tough day ahead if I was to reach Carmacks checkpoint. It began much like the day before; another long lake that provided some good speed. All too soon the trail headed off into the woods and I had a lot of ascents to deal with. Every now and then I would get a view of the river from way above on a ridge. By mid afternoon I checked my map and refused to believe I had made as good time as I had done. I kept telling myself ‘still loads to go yet so don’t stop.’ All day I don’t think I saw another human being. The sense of isolation was incredible.

Going Downhill

By the time night came, I had an inkling of where I was and still felt in good shape. I decided to have a few hours rest instead of pushing myself too far just to make it to Carmacks. I pressed the ‘bivvy’ button on my GPS tracker and settled down for 4 hours sleep. I woke up absolutely freezing, probably because I was up on the ridge above the river. Otherwise I felt good. Hungry, but good. I ate a couple of my oat bars and a few of Karl’s Rolo’s (thanks Karl!), strapped myself in my harness and hauled onwards. The trail descended onto Coal Mine lake and I had hardly stepped foot on it when a snowmobile’s headlights flashed in the darkness. It was Gary who had gone in search of me. What I didn’t realise was my GPS unit, for whatever reason, wasn’t transmitting when I bivvied. So all race control saw was my dot not moving from when I bivvied to now. I could tell Gary was pretty relieved to see me. I was way more relieved to see him, especially as he told me Carmacks was just 2km away.

Tim Williamson - Aug 13, 2012 | The Yukon Arctic Ultra
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