Friday, January 29, 2016

Photos from Training

In case you don't follow our Facebook page:  Here are some pictures from training - taken by a snowmobiler who passed us about 60 miles into our second 100 mile camping trip:

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Race to the Sky 2015 - Part 3

    We left Seeley feeling optimistic and the dogs were moving well, even better as it cooled! The trail had been changed from previous years and I thought it was a lot more fun - with beautiful views and a nice, steady climb.
   Going in and out of the mountains seems to take FOREVER and I tried not to worry about it. At last, we began to go down the mountainside on a hard, fast trail. Although the dogs were moving well now, I noticed Razz favoring his shoulder. I took of his booties but by the time we reached Owl Creek I realized he would need dropped. The vet's agreed and I took him over to the dropped dog trailer.
    I was thrilled to have caught up to Laura and Jenny, but figured they'd be gone soon - so set my watch to head out. However, when it came time to go I was surprised to see them hadn't left. I gave some extra time, figuring they were my competition at this point so I'd wait...but it became clear they were not leaving. So I booted up the dogs to go.
    Unfortunately, I had about three dogs with sore wrists - I was going to be left with seven dogs to head out of Owl Creek on a hard, unforgiving trail. As much as it pained me to scratch again, it was for the dogs - I had three yearlings and since Razz is my smoothest moving dog who had never been injured - I worried about more injuries on the youngsters.
    I don't feel bad about the decision, although perhaps I should've conquered the mountain leaving Owl Creek and made it back to Seeley...but what's done is done and this year I look forward to going back and conquering!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Race to the Sky 2015 - Part 2

   Everything was going pretty well coming into Whitetail and the dogs rested well. Leaving the checkpoint, however, Summer managed to grab Sweetwater's leg and start a fight. Although I was able to pull them apart, and no damage was visible, as we neared Seeley it became clear that Sweetwater would have to be dropped - she began to limp and her leg had begun to swell from the small puncture wound.
    The hard part about mushing is the ability to dwell on this for several miles (and many long minutes) as we came into Seeley. I didn't see Laura ahead of me - who later informed me she kept looking back and seeing us get closer!
    When we came into Seeley the vets came right over and we got Sweetwater dropped and on meds right away. Now I dreaded going to Owl Creek without my main leader...but being tired, hungry and distraught is never a good time to make a decision so I went in to the checkpoint and ate some wonderful chili my handler (mom!) had made and got some sleep. Needless to say, I felt much better thanks to the food and rest - and a pep talk from Brett Bruggeman.
    We rested through the heat of the day and got ready to set out for Owl Creek when it cooled.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Fall Training 2015 - Trailer Adventures

    You either laugh or you's something I find myself saying time and again as I run dogs. Why? Because there's a lot that can go wrong at any given time. Equipment gets used...and it breaks. Usually my dad or brothers rescue me...
    This fall, I found myself telling this to Emily (a local Jr musher) because - on her first run with me - we got to the trail head and I got out to smell something burning. The pictures above show what happened to the 4-wheeler trailer.
    I'm rather surprised Emily's parents let her come back - the first time she came running dogs was the first time I had a major accident with the dog trailer. Coming down our steep driveway, the trailer slid out behind me and flipped on it's side. God was watching over me, because the dogs were unhurt, the trailer only a bit dented and neither sled (on top) were damaged.
   That trailer, now retired, had a habit of blowing a tire every year we went to the American Dog Derby...on the way there. One year, when I planned a trip to MT to go run dogs with friends, the axle broke an hour from I was stranded at a post office with a load of dogs in the dark. My awesome dad found the parts and got it I could get home.
    But as I think about it, I'm glad Emily got to witness some jerry-rigging as we flipped this trailer onto another trailer, and with my brother's help got the 4-wheeler on top of it all and strapped down. Life rarely goes as planned, especially in mushing, and one of the things I'm learning is to stop being so uptight about things. It will work out in the end...or plans might change (for the better!).
    It's the same way with the weather. So many times I sit at home stressing because it's November or December and the trails are a sheet of ice causing me to be unable to run. Yet it works out - the dogs come back better for the rest (I tend to over train) with healed up feet and ready for more.
    It's just a thought: I wonder how much happier we would all be if we worried less about the things we can't control and just enjoyed the moments God gives. Laughing when the trailer breaks (it really IS comical how we got everything home in one trip) made good memories. After all, as I'm sure you've begun to see as we look at my mushing journey, it's remarkable I'm even here running dogs today...even on the bad days I'm blessed to be living my dream so do I have an excuse to be worrying about the things I can't control?

Race to the Sky 2015 - Part 1

    I meant to have the 2015 Race to the Sky documented before 2016, and now we've come through the 2016 Eagle Cap Extreme already! Time goes by fast when you're on the trail with a dog team...but before I get into our 2016 adventures, let's get caught up on last year!

    Our trails continued to deteriorate after Eagle Cap. We had horrendous rain, which literally washed away our snow. Every run I had less and less trail to work with and even had to drive through a flooded road to get to the river trail (scary!).
    On the bright side, Race to the Sky cancelled their 1st leg (whether it's ceremonial or part of the race, it's the part of the race I like the least) and decided to keep the race on track - with a minor change: the race would start in Seeley Lake, go to White Tail, then back to Seeley, on to Owl Creek and then back through Seeley to White Tail for the final 6 hours mandatory rest...with the finish back at Seeley.
    My run/rest/food had been packed with the assumption of 5 legs, so the change threw me off a bit but I think, like everyone else, I intended to make the best of it.

    Due to the temperatures, we started in the afternoon and the run towards White Tail was uneventful. Climbing part of Huckleberry Pass turned out to be a blessing because of the cooler temperatures up there. Some of the big boys - like Mambo - were really having issues with the temperatures and it gave them a nice 10 mile cool down when we descended back to White Tail to take some rest.