The Yukon Quest starts tomorrow.
Every year since 1984, mushers and their dogs have taken on this the epic 1,600-kilometre challenge.
We will eagerly follow the trials and tribulations of the 28 teams as they make their way between the 10 checkpoints.
At times the word of their progress will be scant, like on the long lonely run from Stepping Stone on the Pelly River north along the Dawson Trail through Scroggie Creek and into Dawson City.
We will listen anxiously as they climb up and over Eagle Summit.
And, finally, we will celebrate along with the winners of the many staffroom betting pools, when the teams finally cross the finish line in Fairbanks.
For the next 10 days to two weeks we will be at least vicariously on the trail with them.
The hundreds of volunteers will be closer to the action. They assist in all aspects of the race, from providing security at the start line, keeping the trails open to providing a musher with a warm bowl of soup in a trail-side cabin at 2 a.m.
The crew for the Stepping Stone hospitality stop is already gathering. Bruce came in on the 4:30 a.m. bus from Edmonton yesterday. Kathleen arrives from Victoria today.
Jim Tredger, who along with Carole Kroening owns Stepping Stone, will take the first three of the crew from Whitehorse out tonight.
Their priority, after snowmobiling in from Pelly Farm, will be opening and warming the main house and the summer kitchen.
When the rest of the crew arrives on Saturday, stove and kitchen wood has to be cut, food organized, a hole cut in the ice out on the Pelly to draw water for the dogs, tea and coffee water pumped from the well and a dozen other tasks attended to that Carole has carefully set out.
This year’s rookie volunteers will have gotten the hang of how to run a roadhouse by the time the first mushers are expected to arrive at Stepping Stone late on Monday evening.
The volunteer’s efforts all are focused on the same end, helping the mushers on up the trail.
We know their goal, the finish line in Fairbanks, and we are all rooting for them.
Globally we are all realizing now that we are just beginning our own quest.
And everyone will be on it, possibly the most momentous journey humankind has undertaken in all its history.
It is almost as if a dramatic, sudden awakening has occurred across the planet.
Last week, the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change laid out the problem in all its starkness.
This may have been the tip point of a clear, worldwide consensus on this issue.
Even our politicians have begun to sense the necessity for action coming from the growing awareness and concern of their constituents.
Many of us won’t be around when the impacts of global warming really begin to bite.
However we can help our children and their children face the challenges.
We can set the goal now of a just, sustainable world.
With that goal in mind, we can begin figuring out what we need to do to get there.
How well we spend the time we have to help them prepare and get started along their way will to a large measure determine whether the trail ahead will be just a little less difficult or plain impossible.
Getting our priorities straight will be an important first step.
One thing for sure, we have to learn what every musher knows: travel light.