Whitehorse Daily Star

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TAKING A BREAK – Mark Hines had to add some additional rest time during his journey on the Yukon Quest trail after suffering frostbite and some broken ribs at different points along the route.

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A HEAVY LOAD – Mark Hines hauled his supplies by sled for his 39-day trek along the Yukon Quest trail.

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ENJOYING THE JOURNEY – Mark Hines is seen on the trail of the Yukon Quest during his trek from Fairbanks to Whitehorse.

Quest trail walker endured cold snap, nasty fall

Nearly a month after the last musher in the 2016 Yukon Quest crossed the finish line at the Takhini Hot Pools,

By Stephanie Waddell on March 18, 2016

Nearly a month after the last musher in the 2016 Yukon Quest crossed the finish line at the Takhini Hot Pools, another finisher walked across it, completing his own journey of 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles).

Mark Hines spent 39 days trekking along the trail from Fairbanks to Whitehorse.

As he explained in an interview Wednesday in Whitehorse, he has taken in the Yukon side of the Quest trail by competing in the Arctic Ultra adventure race (from Whitehorse to Dawson City) by foot in 2009, 2011 and 2013.

However, since he wanted to experience the whole trail, he set out on Feb. 1, five days before the Quest mushers left the starting chute in Fairbanks.

“It was really different,” the 37-year-old from the U.K. said of the solo expedition.

With no set checkpoints where he could restock supplies, Hines had to haul all his gear, fuel and food by sled rather than just taking enough to make it from checkpoint-to-checkpoint.

It all made the sled much heavier to haul behind him, Hines said.

“It was about a million pounds,” he laughed.

He recalled how the sled would sink into the unstable snow, made all that much softer with the warm weather this winter has brought.

That extra exertion saw Hines have to rest more than he’d planned, adding an extra couple of days to the trip along with the rest days he had already scheduled.

With Quest mushers hitting the trail Feb. 6, Hines said, he was pleased to share the trail for a time with the mushers who were passing him, or who he’d stop and chat with along the trail.

“It was a really good, positive vibe,” he said.

He enjoyed sharing stories about the trail with the mushers.

He acknowledged, however, that just as many of the mushers told him they would not want to walk the entire trail on foot, he would not want to have to be looking after a full dog team, bringing all the supplies that go with it on the trail.

Whether mushing or trekking by foot, the consensus between Hines and Quest mushers seemed to be the same: the “stunning views”, northern lights and the experience of just being out on the trail were worth the effort, he said.

“I feel really privileged,” Hines said.

That’s not to say the adventure was not without a few mishaps along the way.

On the Forty Mile River, he experienced a rare cold snap along the trail, with the temperature dropping to -35C.

The temperature change saw him suffer frostbite in his fingertips.

After extending his rest period at a cabin, making sure his fingers were OK, he was able to get back on the trail and continue.

Another instance on Scroggie Creek saw Hines take a fall on some ice and land on a fallen tree trunk, suffering what he assumes were “a few broken ribs.”

Along with extra rest he needed to recoup from the injury, there were a few nights following the incident when he just couldn’t crawl into his bivy bag to sleep, as he had been doing.

Instead, he created a “mattress” from spruce branches and put his sleeping bag out on that.

Along with the unplanned rest days that came up, Hines had planned for some time off in places like Eagle, Alaska and Dawson.

“Dawson is such a special place,” he said as he recalled taking in the Gold Rush history as he drew closer to the Klondike.

Coming into the Takhini Hot Pools finish line long after the Quest was over, Hines had his own cheering section of friends who had gathered to encourage him on.

“Coming into Whitehorse is like coming home,” he said.

In fact, that’s exactly what he’s hoping to make it: home.

Originally from the U.K., Hines said his goal is to move here, something he’s had his eye on since his first trip to the territory in 2009.

Once he finishes up his PhD in biomechanics and physiology through the University of Roehampton in London next year, he plans to look more closely at making the move.

As always, Hines – who’s been competing in adventure racing for more than a decade – also has his sights set on his next big adventure, a paddleboarding race on the Danube River in Europe.

Hines’ website is available at http://www.markhines.org

Comments (3)

Up 3 Down 0

YTer on Mar 23, 2016 at 3:16 pm

The burning of wood is Carbon neutral. Neutral means, oh, never mind, you can look that up, right?

Up 7 Down 20

jc on Mar 18, 2016 at 5:45 pm

Isn't the smoke from that bonfire an environmental hazard and adding to Canada's horrible carbon footprint? Just curious. Must ask Dr. Suzuki or the Sierra club.

Up 14 Down 3

RobertFalconScott'sBigBrother on Mar 18, 2016 at 4:14 pm

The latest in the great tradition of British eccentric adventurers. We salute you sir. Jolly good show !

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