We arrived in Fairbanks three days before the horses did. There was a lot to get done and little time to do it.
I visited the ranch and boarding stables where the horses would rest prior to our journey. When I explained my long ride to the girl behind the counter, she didn’t care much—something I slowly became accustomed to in the North.
After we paid for the horse’s stay and made sure it was okay that I started my final ride from the stables, Clara and I went shopping. Because we are going to ride through some of the most remote areas of North America, we needed to make sure we had all of the equipment, food, and materials we needed for both the horses and ourselves. If we forgot something, finding it out here or in the Yukon would be nearly impossible.
After making and remaking long lists, we went to war.
First, we visited to the local tack and feed store, which had a very small selection of things for horses, and bought the last items we needed. Hoof pick, hay pellets, shoeing tools, fly spray… the list went on and on and on. After spending way too much money (everything is more expensive in Alaska due to hauling distances) we drove to Walmart.
“I hate shopping,” I said to Clara as we rang the final cart of materials on our second day inside the giant superstore.
That’s right: it took us two days to get everything we needed. The closest city we will cross on this journey is Whitehorse, Yukon—population 25,085. And that will probably be in two months time or more.
Strategic planning is everything in life. For me, it’s life or death. Lists, planning, and insuring that nothing is forgotten and I have everything I need to succeed out on the trail, is almost as important as the ride itself.
“Now, we ride south,” I said to Clara wearing my recently acquired fly mask as we celebrated the end of shopping and planning. I looked like a beekeeper. We laughed hard.