Divide resident on the Iditarod trail in Alaska

For Julie Nelson, mushing in below-zero temperatures is glorious. . . Thats because the Divide resident is committed to qualifying for the 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in 2022. And thats why she moved to Alaska three years ago. . . For the first two seasons, Nelson lived in an 8-by-16-foot cabin with no running water. Hired on as a handler with a team of dogs, she thrived on the sacrificial existence. . . I really learned a lot but wanted to do more, she said. . . So Nelson invested in a team of 13 dogs nine Alaskan huskies and four Canadian Inuits and has competed in several races. . . While her living quarters have improved she now lives in a cabin with electricity, running water and Wi-Fi the cost of chasing her dream is substantial. There are expenses that go with caring for 13 dogs, in addition to buying gear and outwear for herself. A sled alone runs $4,000 and a bag of high-performance dog food is $70. . . When her husband, Brett Nelson, who remains at the couples home in Divide, suggested she get a part-time job to help offset the costs, she went to work two days a week at a nearby thrift store. I love it, she said. I see all the locals and have a great support system here. . . The job also takes her away, albeit briefly, from worries that accompany those who mush, such as potential dog fights and dealing with too much or not enough snow. On top of all that, theres the fatigue factor, the possibility of losing the team, and the risk of encountering bear and moose or being drug through snow. . . Its challenging, Nelson said. . . But its also rewarding. . . When I go out on the trail, its just me and the dogs, she said. I cant tell you how beautiful it is so quiet, so amazing.

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