Okay so spring has finally sprung here in New England and I am finally crawling out from under my rock. I have been in the world’s biggest funk since the beginning of the new year. I have felt lost and tossed and so hurt by the events out of my control yet forcing me to change my course dramatically.
Mother Nature supplied me with the perfect excuse for my departure from Alaska and my quest to train for the Iditarod; lack of snow. I saw race after qualifying race cancelled due to the lack of significant snow fall. This was difficult and waiting around for weeks and months was not possible. Not because I was growing impatient but because Teva decided not to renew my sponsorship.
Teva was pivotal to the past thirteen years of incredible adventure, and I have loved meeting so many with MS who’s lives I so hope I was able to touch as they did mine. Teva made a great drug to manage my MS for fifteen years. Yes, it was a great ride. But the times they are a changin’ and so we bid adieu.
Watch for news on my sponsors, upcoming speaking engagements, book events and much more…life if full! I’m still planning some exciting future adventures and would love to hear ideas from all of you on places to go, people to see and potential sponsors or partners for my mission.
Today I spent the day in one of my most favorite places in the whole wide world, The Donald McKay Elementary School in East Boston. My seventh year, my seventh class of wonderful fourth graders. We are preparing for our annual climb of Mt. Monadnock in a few short weeks.
But today was even better. The class planted a garden.
Yup, spring has indeed come and with it the excitement and anticipation of the adventures ahead.
Stay tuned and remember…
Come explore with me!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WENDY BOOKER IS CRUISING AT A NEW ALTITUDE
Mountain climber and adventurer, Wendy Booker, announces the release of her first book: New Altitude
April 1, 2013: Wendy Booker, a climber, explorer and musher from Massachusetts, is embarking on a new adventure… and no parkas, skis or ropes are involved! New Altitude, her first book, has just been released and she is kicking off a spring promotional tour to share her story with the world.
New Altitude chronicles Wendy Booker’s bid for the Seven Summits. But mountains aren’t the only obstacles she had to tackle, and this is not your typical adventure saga. New Altitude takes readers far beyond the mountains into the mind and heart of a woman facing challenging circumstances, leveraging her amazing story to share life lessons about the power of self-discovery, serendipity and stubbornness.
After a devastating diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, Wendy fell haphazardly into running the Boston Marathon for charity. From that one simple act, an extraordinary series of circumstances unfolds that is nothing short of kismet. Overcoming illness and divorce, and tackling one of the toughest mountains in the world twice, Wendy finds herself atop Denali (Mt. McKinley, Alaska) in 2004 at the age of 50, forcing the reinvention of her entire life in the process.
Standing on the pinnacle of the North American continent, she aspires to climb the highest peak on each of the seven continents… the famed Seven Summits. It is a mission that will eclipse everything in else in her life for many years.
New Altitude follows Wendy’s inspiring, poignant, and sometimes hilarious adventures as she seeks to conquer the mountains on her list with the intimidating specter of Mt. Everest looming on the horizon, and discovers a whole new world along the way. Along with tales of adventure, readers are allowed a rare window into the internal struggle and ongoing adaption that is required to make extreme sports a lifestyle.
Dave Hahn, the mountain guide on Wendy’s second Everest expedition, has attained the most Everest summits of any non-Sherpa. Commenting on Wendy’s adventures in New Altitude, he recently said, “Climbing high mountains is difficult – plenty difficult for those lucky enough to pursue it with youth, perfect health and all the normal advantages on their side. And pretty near impossible for those not so gifted or fortunate. Near impossible… but not actually impossible as it turns out! Wendy Booker’s story of learning the ropes while battling MS should spur on anyone tempted to simply accept their conventionally defined limitations.”
When asked about her upcoming appearances and book signings Wendy said, “I am so looking forward to sharing this book with long-time followers and new audiences alike. It has been a labor of love to write. My hope is that New Altitude gives fans an inside look at my life, introduces new people to my story, and encourages everyone to approach obstacles in a whole new way.”
Boston radio personality and long-time friend, Gay Vernon, perhaps summed up New Altitude best, “After a diagnosis of MS, Wendy decided to leave her comfort zone and accomplish something that most of us can only imagine. She literally (and symbolically) has climbed the tallest peaks in the world. And in scaling those mountains, she’s inspired others to discover what the joy of living is all about.”
For more information on Wendy Booker, to order your copy of New Altitude, or to invite Wendy to speak to your organization or host an author event, visit www.wendybooker.net. New Altitude is available in print and e-book format from online retailers or at your favorite bookstore.
About the Author
Diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS in 1998, Wendy Booker was never an athlete. But over the past decade she has run ten marathons, climbed six of the Seven Summits, attempted Everest twice, mushed to the North Pole and skied to the South Pole – setting records and breaking through barriers all the way. Always on the lookout for her next great adventure, she is training with a team of sled dogs in Alaska to race in the Iditarod in 2015. Wendy lives in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts and is the mother of three grown sons and a yellow lab named Cada. New Altitude is her first book.
If you would like more information about Wendy Booker, or to schedule an interview or appearance, please contact:
Published: February 5, 2013
By: Mary Pilon
WILLOW, Alaska — By 9:30 most mornings here in the world’s unofficial dog-sledding capital, Luan Marques has harnessed 10 Alaskan huskies to his sled and shot off into the awakening woods for a training ride, his sights set on the famous Iditarod competition next month.
Mushers at the start of the Northern Lights 300, which was moved from Wasilla, Alaska, to Willow because of trail conditions compromised by warm weather.
The thick, powdery blanket of snow on the trails and the frigid temperatures have made a musher haven out of Willow, where locals joke that dogs outnumber humans. But as Marques rode this winter, he and his huskies trudged over dirt
patches and bramble, surrounded by tree branches that once held fluffy snow. Instead of subzero conditions, which are ideal for the sport, temperatures have been in the 30s and 40s.
“It’s raining and not snowing,” Marques said during a recent training ride, maneuvering the dogs to avoid puddles on the trail. “That’s not good.”
It has made for a trying winter for mushers. Several Iditarod qualifying events have been postponed, rerouted or canceled because of a lack of snow. The John Beargrease sled dog race, a trek of some 400 miles in northern Minnesota, postponed its start to March 10 from Jan. 27. In Alaska, the Don Bowers Memorial 200/300, the Sheep Mountain Lodge 150 and the Knik 200 have been canceled. The Copper Basin 300 in Glennallen, Alaska, had to cut its trail for several teams by 25 miles because there was not enough snow at the finish line; the mushers finished the race with their hats and gloves off and jackets unzipped.
“That was crazy with the warm weather,” said Zack Steer, one of the race’s organizers. “It was such a drastic change from last year, but the trail at the end was dirt. It wasn’t safe.”
Blake Freking, a musher who trains Siberian huskies on the north shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota, said he planned to compete in the Beargrease race in January. “With global warming, it’s hard to deny that there are some big changes going on right now,” he said. “We’re in it. It isn’t looking good.”
During last year’s snow season, defined as July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012, Anchorage had 134.5 inches of snow, according to Jake Crouch, a climate scientist with the National Climatic Data Center. This season’s tally in Anchorage was 39.2 inches, through Wednesday. North of Fa
Fairbanks, another area where mushers train, snowpack is 21 percent of average.
“This is a pretty big deal,” said Crouch, who is among the climate experts who attribute the conditions to global warming. He said climate change had resulted in warmer temperatures for Alaska over the last century.
“One of the things we’re seeing with climate change is that the high latitudes are experiencing the brunt of it,” he said. “They’re very vulnerable.”
Mushing in Alaska originated with Native American settlers and pioneers who traversed the chilly landmass using dog sleds out of necessity. Canine-powered transit was a practical option for transporting fur, medicine, freight, mail and passengers in the snow. Even as airplane travel diverted much from mushers’ daily business, the culture endured along with the Iditarod trail, which stretches about 1,000 miles from Anchorage to Nome.
“It definitely has us concerned,” Erin McLarnon, a musher and spokeswoman for the Iditarod, said of the long-term effects of the weather. She is among the mushers breeding dogs with thinner coats, more suitable for warmer weather. Continue Reading…
Jane Knows had a great post on the 2013 WILD (Women Inspiring Leadership Development) Summit where Wendy shared her inspiring story with 400 Colorado business women and college students!
“Redefine “the top” and do it without regret. Wendy Booker became an accomplished athlete after being diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis. Now in her late 50’s, she has run a bunch of marathons (she made me feel like an underachiever in the nicest possible way) and climbed six of the seven highest peaks in the world. Her “top” was to climb all seven and after two unsuccessful tries at Mt. Everest, she knew she could never do it. She felt she had failed and was depressed and sat on the couch watching Oprah and eating bon-bons for months. And then it struck her: be the first woman with MS to go to the top of the world, the North Pole! That would be her new top! And she did it and the South Pole and much more!”
I know that many of you are curious about my Iditarod training. It’s been a whirlwind season and my plans have had to change along with the ever-shifting Alaska weather! This year has seen a lack of snow in many areas, so races have been cancelled or rescheduled wreaking havoc with my travel. Along with the uncooperative snowfall, I have had conflicting priorities… in a good way!
I am so happy to announce that my first book, New Altitude, has just been released! It took years of work to take my story to the printed page, but I must say that it felt so good last week to hold the first copy in my hands. As my most ardent fans and supporters, you are the first to know and the first to receive the order link. Go to http://amzn.com/098877030X to get a copy from Amazon.com hot off the press! If you would like signed copies for friends or family – just email and we’ll make it happen.
As my blogs indicated, life in Clam Gulch is fascinating. Tending to 70 dogs of all ages and abilities means that every day is an adventure of some sort. I’ve never been dirtier, smellier or colder! My biggest training challenge has been not losing the sled when I fall. I have a 50% success rate, but am improving everyday. The lack of snow has made training that much more difficult, and I have the bruises and cuts to prove it. I can’t thank my trainer, Dean Osmar, and my handler, Anna Berington (and Aaron, too), for their patience, endless hours of teaching, and for always tracking down my errant team when I lose my sled. I have loved every minute of it!
Right now, I’m not predicting that I will complete my qualifiers this season as I hoped. If that is the case, you will get to follow along with me for another season of mushing competition and preparation for the Iditarod. I hope that 2013 holds many grand adventures for each of you as well. It’s a great big world out there, so go out and have fun!
PRAISE FOR NEW ALTITUDE:
“If you love exploration – of the soul as well as the physical world – then this is a must read. Wendy Booker will take you on a journey like none you have experienced before.”
~ John Crane, Emmy Award-winning TV Reporter and Anchor
“In her memoir, New Altitude, Wendy dives right in to the nitty-gritty, leaving nothing to the imagination … and we the readers get to experience the extremes with her. She is a courageous, exceptional woman who’s powerful story of overcoming obstacles is a must.”
~ Gay Vernon, Award-winning Radio personality and journalist
“Wendy Booker’s story of learning the ropes while battling MS should spur on those tempted to simply accept their conventionally defined limitations. She tells it with humor and humility, detail and depth.”
~ Dave Hahn, Mountain Climber and Guide
“Meet an exceptional woman who refused to allow an MS diagnosis to define her. Instead, she put one foot in front of the other and found herself on top of the world’s tallest mountains. New Altitude is the truly amazing story of Wendy Booker. I think her middle name should be: INSPIRATION.”
~ Candy O’Terry, Host: Magic 106.7’s Exceptional Women radio show; President, Boston Women in Media & Entertainment
“Wendy made the decision that Multiple Sclerosis would not hold her back from anything that life has to offer. Her book inspires us to live life to the fullest.”
~ Florine Mark, President and CEO of The Weight Watchers Group and host of ReMarkable Woman Radio
If I can get up by 6 am., which means crawling out from under down quilts and a real sheep skin, quickly lighting a fire in the stove and crawling back under the warm skins covering my bed- I have exactly one hour a day to myself.
So far Alaska has had its coldest November on record, December is starting out no different. Now how lucky can I get? Temperatures well below zero both day and night but no snow.
From 7:30 on the work begins. Me and lots of dogs that is. I put on every piece of clothing I own, cover my face with my buff and head for the barn. It’s 10 below most mornings. The days all blend together, the difference in each is where we will run the dogs. That of course depends on where we can find some snow. The dog’s daily mileage is meticulously entered into a log book and their health, diet and disposition noted. They are doing great, its the snow that is the problem.
So we head out for hills and valley; Dean having checked in with other mushers to get a trail report. All I can say is, “Is it really only Wednesday?” I feel like I have been bounced and beaten for weeks. Every inch of some part of my body aches. The lack of snow makes sled travel over hummocks, grassy knolls, rock and ice an exercise in pain and terror. All I can think of is the sled careening down a hill in “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” – control is impossible.
I can’t tell you how many times I fell. The rule is never let go of the sled especially when falling. The dogs will continue to run miles without a driver. Heck, they are probably thrilled with the now lighter sled. I have managed to pulled the sled over with me which will momentarily slow the team down but more often than not, the sled pops back upright and off they go leaving me attempting to get my Michelin Man clad body off the ground and running. My enormous boots preventing any dexterity. Fortunately, Anna is up front about 50 feet and responsibly aware that I am not faring well. I don’t think I have ever sworn so much.
The sun rises at about 10 and sets at around 3:45. It is never high in the sky but just skimming the horizon. I fall into bed at nine after downing Advil. I no longer care that I am dirty, taking a shower seems like way too much work. Did I mention Advil? In the morning, if I am brave enough, I examine the newest cuts and bruises. I know I should be icing my elbow or left shin I’m too tired to bother. Getting out of my dog laden clothes is about all I can manage. I collapse into bed and before I know it the day begins again.
Sorry it’s 7:30 and there are 70 hungry dogs out there.
Climb, explore and mush with me! Woof!!!
Actually there is no such thing as just another day here on The Gulch. Take yesterday for example. Anna and I headed out about an hour north to the lake region of Shilak in the dog truck with 26 dogs. Getting prepared for any trip requiring the truck, I have learned, means a lot of pre-planning. Harnesses, extra harnesses, dog booties (now that there is snow and ice we bootie to protect their feet) gang lines to tie to the truck to which the dogs will be hooked onto, snacks for the dogs and us! Some broth for the dogs after their run, a shot gun and 22 (just in case) and we’re off! And I thought traveling with a baby years ago was a ton of work.
We sit in the cab and the dogs run their little tails off loving every minute. Their happiness is palatable. We run the truck between 8 and 10 miles per hour, the same speed we train with the ATVs and snow mobiles. When I am on a sled I have no clue how fast we are going I only hope the dogs remember the speed and are able to hold to it. I took advantage of not having to drive anything yesterday and really concentrate on the dogs. Once again I watch their gate, if they are working hard enough or too hard, are they paying attention? So much to watch and the more dogs we add the more to look for. The big lesson of the day was turning the team around. This requires a large area where the entire team and truck can turn without bunching up. Anna got out and directed the lead dogs. I drove the truck. Once we were in the direction we needed to go Anna told me to go look at the bear tracks. Yup those were bear tracks alright and five minutes later there was the bear! A huge grizzly right in the middle of the road about 100 yards ahead of us. The dogs were going nuts, I was going nuts, Anna always calm, started yelling at the dogs to keep running, I started yelling and the bear took off like a bat out of hell. Yup, just another Alaskan adventure.
The day before we headed out from the dog yard on sleds. We had about 7 inches of snow and decided to head for the swamp region south of the farm. The trails were tough, lumps of weeds and straw, ice and slush along the pond edges. I loved it. Felt like surfing on snow and maintaining control of dogs and sled which you cannot steer. I fell twice which I figure is pretty good but the best part is that when I fell I didn’t lose the sled and team as I was able to pull the sled over with me as I went down. It all felt so slow motion-ish. It’s righting the sled again that causes the adrenaline rush since as soon as those sled runners hit the snow the dogs are off whether you are ready or not you’re moving and fast!
It’s -11degrees this morning. Dogs are fed and I am about to go make room for some new additions to the dog yard. The puppies are big enough to leave the puppy pen and live with the big dogs. My little Prada is four months old and today she will have her own dog house. I’m a nervous Mom and would still like to bring her into my little cottage and cuddle. She wants no part of it and true to her breed is ready to run. I think I have been here before except instead of a wet nosed female pup, I remember this same melancholy as my three sons were raring to go and headed out the door for the big dog world.
Come Climb, Explore and Mush with me!
I am asking that myself. Since leaving “The Gulch” on Oct. 12 I seem to have been all over the place. If I had a GPS tracker affixed to me I would have made quite the pattern up and down east and west coast. Not exactly how I like to spend all my time but certainly an interesting month.
Now I am in Boulder, CO my home away from home. Or as we from Boston call it, Boulda. I was to arrive five days earlier but as we all know air travel was a mess last week due to the hurricane. A very minor inconvenience compared to the suffering and fear still taking place. My prayers and thoughts are with so many.
Next stop…Clam Gulch or so I thought. Dean called late yesterday and said to stay in the lower 48 as I would be heading to Milwaukee for a speaking appearance on Thursday anyway. Are you following all this? He figured it wasn’t worth my time to fly to Alaska then turn around and fly out two days later. Ah!! finally some down time! These four days are a bonus for me; time to catch up, get ahead and enjoy the beauty and warmth of Colorado. The key word being warmth. Minus 3 in the Gulch.
I am also excited to be in the lower 48 for election day. Alaska is so far off the grid that the Alaskans tell me the outcome has practically been decided before they even get a chance to vote. I cast my ballot two weeks ago in The Farms!
Hooray for Rye High!
I am bleary eyed. I have traveled from Alaska to Boston, Boston to Sacramento. Drove to LA , took the ‘red eye’ back to Boston. Slept for an hour and drove down to Rye, New York for my 40th high school reunion.
I went with some trepidation but perhaps it was just exhaustion from my intense speaking schedule. I have never been a big ‘reunion’ person and seem to prefer to contain my memories in my heart and head. Still I was curious and forty years passed seemed like a good time to see what had become of so many I have known since pre-school.
I was blown away.
The ‘kids’ I knew at 15 and 16 have become amazing, accomplished and incredible adults. Oh the faces have changed slightly, the bodies, well we won’t discuss what time does but the windows to the soul…the eyes and the connection we all felt was something I am hard pressed to describe. I just feel so lucky to be reconnected with so many who meant so much to me a long time ago.
To Rye, New York for being a home town like no other and recognized everywhere I go. And thank you to the class of ’72 for a wonderful weekend. For your successes, your laughter, your encouragement.
Come climb, explore and mush with me!