GALENA -

Coming from a print journalism background to work for a broadcast news station, you find yourself learning all sorts of new things.

These tricks of the trade are put to the test when working on the Iditarod race trail, especially when traveling through some of the more remote areas of Alaska. There’s a certain amount one can prepare for, certain things to expect, but even the most seasoned Iditarod participant might tell you each experience is unique.

Simple tasks like filing stories back to headquarters from the Bush can become laborious exercises in patience and grace. Friendships are tested when the long hours and hard work put into a package of stories are mishandled. The fumbles or the missteps are accounted for and cooler minds eventually prevail. The stories are filed, the reporter does the live shot and from the reader or viewer perspective, everything went off without a hitch. Never mind what happened behind the scenes -- like the last-minute scramble to get the live shot to work, or the three-hour-long file transfer just to get a couple pictures back to the news desk.

The tasks we all know how to perform under more manageable circumstances push each and every one of us. They also help us discover our breaking points, that moment behind the veil of professionalism that reveals our inner human frailty. Some of us reach this point differently, and when it materializes, we each react differently as well.

There’s no doubt it’s cool hopping on a plane in Anchorage, zipping over to McGrath, hop-scotching over to Takotna, then back to McGrath to file your story. Shove as much food in your mouth as you can when you can as fast as you can, then hop on the next plane over to Ruby. Then Galena. And so on. Clock a couple of hours of sleep in between story writing, video edits and live shots, and get up and do it all again the next day. There are five days more to go. Besides, we can sleep when we’re dead.

Interviewing the mushers is great, because they put it all in perspective. Those are the guys really challenging themselves, putting dog, life and limb on the line in the pursuit of a higher calling. They keep us humble, because no amount of whining or arguing amongst ourselves will change the fact we get a cot to sleep in every night and a hot meal to eat somewhere.

Sometimes we fail, sure, but for every failure there’s a lesson learned. And the successes are made all the more glorious knowing our fallibilities. Ultimately, though, it’s the experience dealing with the adversity that brings the team closer together. At the end of the day people rely on each other to fulfill their end of the bargain.

We chose to be here, by the way. It’s an important point to remember. Some of us actually volunteered for the journey, which isn’t to say “be careful what you wish for,” just that you should be sure to take stock of the situation, especially your own. Sure, we work hard, but plenty of us do -- and we’ll get up tomorrow on four hours of sleep to do it all again.