Co-workers help lost musher back to desk

Posted: Thursday, February 10, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Co-workers of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner City Editor Rod Boyce took no chances on the returning musher finding his desk Tuesday.

Trail markers -- wooden stakes painted fluorescent orange at the top -- began at the back door of the News-Miner building and continued through the hallway and up the stairs to the second floor newsroom.

There a large ''Welcome back Rod. This way to your desk,'' banner greeted Boyce, who was lost for six days in the Caribou Hills last week. Boyce went off the trail of the Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race during a blizzard.

A final trail marker was taped to Boyce's chair and another sign above his desk proclaimed, ''Lost musher, Found here.

Beaming co-workers cheered as Boyce limped up the final few stairs, his feet still swollen from a week camping out in bunny boots.

His desk was flanked by two tables loaded with food, snacks, flowers and a decorated cake.

A stainless steel pot, filled with snow atop an alcohol stove, a reminder of his ordeal, was labeled, ''Rod's Personal Water Supply: Only qualified survivalist may drink here.''

Throughout the day, Boyce paused for hugs and handshakes from co-workers and well-wishers and nibbled continuously on an array of food within his arm's reach to help regain the 10 pounds he lost while stranded on the Kenai.

He also fielded numerous phone calls from friends and the media.

''A tipster called in today, and when I said my name, he said, 'Oh I know who you are. Welcome back,'' laughed Boyce.

A woman in Michigan who has a grandson Boyce's age, 38, also called.

''She told me she had prayed for me, and just wanted to hear my voice.''

When Boyce and his wife, Julie Stricker, a News-Miner copy editor, returned to their Two Rivers home Sunday night they found trail markers on the road leading to their home, and a lot of e-mails and telephone messages waiting in welcome.

Boyce had hunkered down with his 10-dog team after he realized he was off the main trail. Bad weather, a continual series of snow- and windstorms and three feet of snow kept him from moving out sooner.

Boyce said some of his dogs look a little thin, but are otherwise fine.

''They look good. There were no injuries,'' he said. ''They're now happily howling at home.''

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