February 17, 2016

‘Just me and my dogs’

BY ALYSSA MEIER
Editor

Even at a young age, Jim Ryder knew he wanted to be a musher, or dog sledder, if you will. Something about being out on the open tundra with just the necessities, a sled and his trusty four-legged companions to keep him company called out to him. And he decided that there was nothing in the world that would stop him from doing it.

"You have to know what’s gnawing at you and what you really like to do," Ryder said. "It just happened to be this for me."

When he was young boy, he built a harness out of moose hide for his dogs. As his interest grew, he did more research and found out where he could find the best sled and harnesses, and the best dogs.

"I got a couple of male dogs from Greenland and a puppy whose mother had gone over the North Pole, and I knew I had the right foundation," Ryder said. "I had 16 litters in 10 years from those dogs."

After dozens of shorter trips and two long ones through Canada, he made preparations for one final adventure. In early 2011, Ryder traveled over
800 miles through Alaska, following the original Serum run, along part of the Iditarod trail. It wasn’t a race. It wasn’t a competition. It was simply, as Ryder calls it, an experience.


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