In the North Pole we rested at Sarah Nolan’s ranch.
“I hope you guys like pizza,” she said, unloading 4 boxes of pizza from her truck.
While we ate the delicious pies we got to know this amazing family. They told us about how much they love Alaska’s lifestyle.
“We hunt and camp and fish… it’s amazing,” Sarah’s 8-year-old son said with bright eyes.
The next morning before we rode out, Clara drove to Whitehorse to pick up Marzio Lorenzo from Globo TV International. The journalist flew out to Alaska to capture the beginning of my journey.
Alongside Debra and Kathy, two amazing horsewomen who accompanied me out, we rode south.
“We will ride with you this morning Filipe,” they announced while I tacked up my boys.
This was great news! Not only because I would have company all day, but because Smokey was still extremely green. Having these two experienced horsewomen out on the trail made me feel a little safer and more confident.
That is until they started telling me horror stories. Worse yet for me, they were bear stories.
“They [a family friend] tied their horse to a tree and when they returned only the head was there,” Debra told me the gory story about how one of her friend’s horses was attacked and killed by a grizzly.
They had more bear stories and a lot of tips to stay safe on the trail.
“You guys will be fine out there, just be smart, put a bell on the horses at night and always carry your pepper spray,” Kathy said from her horse.
At lunch I bid them farewell and continued south alone. A few hours later I found myself in a torrential downpour in front of Eielson Air Force Base. It was a cold rain that came from all sides due to the out-of-control wind.
While I rode with my hat tilted down to try to protect my face from the rain, both horses took off at a gallop when the airport’s loud speaker went off. Luckily, I managed to stay on but I couldn’t understand what the muffled voice was saying over the speaker.
“You guys relax now,” I said trying to calm my prancing ponies down. It didn’t work because as soon as the muffled voice went away, a colossal, plane took off right next to us. Making Mac and Smokey want to run off the other way.
First I heard the B-52 Stratofortress’ loud turbines coming on. Then, it screamed down the runway right next to us. The horses completely losing it. Making me hold them back with force on the reins and love in my voice.
We made it to the other side of the runway alive thinking the fun was over. It wasn’t.
A few hours later I was again trying to control my runaway horses when a fighter jet broke the speed of sound right on top of us. The “sonic boom,” a large explosion that sounds like a bomb is going off, made my heart jump and my mustangs take off… again…