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Nine Dog Winter: In 1980, Two Young Canadians Recruited Nine Rowdy Sled Dogs, and Headed Out Camping in the Yukon as Temperatures Plung: With More ... Plunge to Sixty Below and Colder! Paperback – 27 Jun 2008
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Nine Dog Winter: Winter camping with sled dogs in Canada's Yukon by Bruce T. Batchelor is a true story, about two young Canadians who recruit nine mismatched huskies, and head out camping in the Yukon as the temperature plunges to Sixty-Eight Below. Follow this 1980-'81 winter adventure of a young couple intent on recreating the classic Yukon pioneer lifestyle. Includes dozens of photographs, maps and diagrams, plus complete instructions for building toboggans, harnesses, moccasins and other traditional winter camping equipment. Hundreds of tips gathered from native and white trappers, pioneers and others who live and thrive in the Northern bush. About the author BRUCE BATCHELOR: Though he'd lived in the Yukon for five years, the author's unfulfilled dream was to spend a winter in a remote wilderness cabin with a woman he loved, training dog teams and making long expeditions. When he teamed up with backcountry ranger Marsha McGillis in 1980, the (mis)adventures could begin! Bruce Batchelor came to the Yukon in 1973, planning to stay just long enough to earn money for a trip to Europe.Instead, he fell in love with the wilderness and its people, and stayed for most of the next eight years.He has written three books about his stay in the North. Marsha McGillis, heroine of Nine Dog Winter, agreed to marry him in 1983. Their son, Dan, was born in 1992. They live in Victoria, BC, with a white lab-husky cross named Tyhee Too in honour of the Tyhee in this story. Bruce and Marsha own Agio Publishing House, where he edits and directs marketing, while Marsha designs the books and Dan takes photos. REVIEWER'S COMMENT: "A real page turner. I couldn't wait to see what was around the next bend in the trail as I raced through this delightful read. An instant classic about Canada's North as experienced by two plucky southerners." -- David Pettigrew, filmmaker, adventurer and sourdough
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I LOVED reading it. Bruce has a rare gift among writers: he writes like he speaks. His "voice" comes through his literary voice as if he was sitting telling you these amusing incidents while you share a hot cocoa by the fireside of a winter evening. You can almost "hear" his voice rising in excitment at the dangers and pausing dramatically before revealing the outcome. Of course, he didn't die, or he wouldn't have been around to write the book, but he also survived having a Volkswagen slit his throat from ear-to-ear when he was still a teen, so you never know just how close to death he (or the other characters - real life characters) just might come at any moment.
If you know Bruce, you are doubtless one of his thousands of "fans", and you should not miss this delightful "visit" with him and his lovely mistress, er, I mean, lover, well, ummm, bride!
If you don't know Bruce Batchelor, it is all the more reason to take this chance to introduce him to you. This "math geek" from high school was and is full of surprises, not the least of which was his indomitable pioneering spirit to take on the frozen wilderness.
(As some of your older folks may know, the musical group "Three Dog Night" got its name from an Aboriginal expression for a cold night in Australia, "Nine Dog Winter" is just that much colder and you couldn't get me to do it if I had 99 dogs!)
Bruce is one of the smartest people I know. Why he would do a crazy thing like this I will never understand, but I sure am glad he wrote about the experience, because now I will never have to see snow again to know how cold it was.
On the way to the grocery store I caught up with a man with a shaggy mutt on a leash. He nodded & I said, "Good morning" to him and "Hi Dog" to his multi, ½-Shepard/½- Something else. The man said, "His name is Rags."
I said, "I just finished a book about him", pointing to Rags. "It was called "Nine Dog Winter", about a couple who went up to the Yukon, acquired 9 dogs that nobody else wanted bad enough to keep and just had a great time at 45 below zero, teaching them to be a team. They made all their own stuff, sleds, beds, harnesses, mittens, tools, heaters, boilers & freight toboggans "
I told him about Batchelor's talent for bringing the Yukon River country between Whitehorse and Dawson City to life, my life: "The moon illuminated the river valley with blue light, making the scene glow with a romantic, gentle softness, the patches of snow and angled ice reflected the brilliance in an iridescent array of colour, the hues of the evergreens and the metallic sheen on the basalt cliffs, all of it a magical tableau."
Adventure? That too, a murder, a dangerous river ice breakup, "Tyhee" and "Casey" get torn up by a Grizzly (they live). Plenty of excitement to keep you turning pages instead of putting the book down.
In Chapter One there's plenty of reference to the man's Heater, who by Chapter 45 turns out to be accepted by the happy reader as the man's Love. The book is bursting with love. People with each other. People with dogs. Dogs with people. Everybody with the outdoors. And, you and me with "Nine Dog Winter".
Batchelor is a yarn-spinner and a poet, a Gentle Man who can dish it out and take it. I enjoyed, very much, being with him and his lovely, tough lady. And, of course, the other nine.
review by J. Gunn, Morro Bay, CA
Batchelor has done it again. A fascinating story and a great read.
we recommend it highly. Ellen and Arnold Reisman