In 2009, after a crippling divorce that left her heartbroken and directionless, Kristin decided to accept an offer to live at a friend's cabin outside of Denali National Park in Alaska for a few months. In exchange for housing, she would take care of her friend's eight sled dogs.
That winter, she learned that she was tougher than she ever knew. She learned how to survive in one of the most remote places on earth and she learned she was strong enough to be alone. She fell in love twice: first with running sled dogs, and then with Andy, a gentle man who had himself moved to Alaska to heal a broken heart.
Kristin and Andy married and started a sled dog kennel. While this work was enormously satisfying, Kristin became determined to complete the Iditarod -- the 1,000-mile dogsled race from Anchorage, in south central Alaska, to Nome on the western Bering Sea coast.
“What our hands do these days is shape the dream of our childhoods. There it thrived in two different kids, and as we grew up and in turn grew older, even when our attentions turned to other things, the dream waited there patiently. Whether or not we knew the kind of purchase that dream held in our insides did not matter, because we both ended up following it. The drive of it, the excitement it held, the pure and simple promise in it – all those things were impossible to ignore. Very much the same fear in each of our hearts cast a net toward something familiar and we ignored it, facing instead north and driving away, away. Something in us must have known all along how that dream would be nurtured by Alaska, even if we could never have known the rare kind of love we would find in one another here. And to see that clearing in the woods now, the footprint of our home in the wilderness made by our four hands…The dogs are the only ones who can perfectly describe what that reward feels like - they being incapable of speech and capable of the purest joy, manifested in leaps and snorts and rolls and howls. It is the filling in my heart.”
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- Growing up in Texas
- Ending up in Alaska in 2009
- Accepting an internship in Alaska
- Dealing with heartbreak
- Being in the wilderness in Alaska
- Driving from Montana to Alaska
- Arriving at the remote cabin
- A new beginning
- Getting through the first winter
- Moose & Maximus
- Becoming a dog musher
- Her first 1,000 miles race in 2015
- The joy of travelling with dogs
- Dealing with the freezing cold
- The Yukon Quest
- Running with a team of 14 dogs
- Not wanting to finish the race
- What the Quest taught her
- Meeting Andy for the first time
- Surviving in Alaska
- Needing to take a break from the lifestyle
- Being a woman in dog sledding
- Being supported and encouraged
- What makes a good dog driver?
- Calm and assertive
- Writing the book
THIS MUCH COUNTRY: A Memoir (Grand Central Publishing; March 10, 2020) is about the love between a woman and her dogs, which intensifies with every rollicking adventure and mishap, from mushing under the northern lights to literally running smack into a 2,000-pound wood bison with a dog team.
It is a story about starting from scratch, stripping away all but necessity and living by animal instincts to find life’s richness. From the first time Kristin hooks up a dog team to the moment she roars across the finish line of the Iditarod, readers witness the chaos of starting over in the din of barking, lunging dogs and the peaceful resolution of 15 dogs moving in unison as the Kristin comes to her own realizations about what it means to be wildly singular.