These three "chechaquos" learned about the terrible hardships of the Yukon the hard way. Although they were anxious to find the riches of gold, they were not willing to learn the rules of survival that faced them on their journey. Everything Buck saw about them was in "disorder," from the dirty dishes to the "slipshod" manner that they set their tent. The group was totally out-of-place in the harsh environment, and they made many mistakes along the way. Perhaps their biggest mistakes were:
- Overloading their sled with unnecessary items, such as canned goods, excessive clothing, and personal items. The woman, Mercedes, refused to walk, so she further weighed down the sled by riding on it.
- Using fourteen dogs, an excessive number, in part because enough food could not be carried.
- Spending too much time in camp and not leaving early enough each morning.
- Overfeeding the dogs, which caused them to run out of food even sooner.
- Not heeding the good advice that they would arrive at the White River too late, and that they would not be able to travel over the thin ice.