So sorry for the delay, but things have been busy 'round here. And sadly, I haven't even started training yet! Tomorrow. First run of the season happens tomorrow! Anyway, I've picked up a second job temporarily and am working seven days a week 10-hour days. Plus dog chores. Poor me. I'm actually staying amazingly upbeat and alert. Even though Rich insists I'm grumpy, I'm really not. (You ain't seen grumpy yet, honey!)
So work at both the winery and Emerald Air are going really well, though the season is winding down.
As the cooler weather settles in, the dogs are getting amped. I can't wait to get them back in harness. Rich went down the road a couple nights ago to scope out a new trail and unlike any years past, we will not be running through swamps! It's a dry trail with a few big puddles for the dogs to drink out of and lots and lots of hills. Ha, ha! The dogs and I will be ready for those endless climbs on the GinGin 200 this year! We'll start with all 18 of our adults (ranging in age from 1.5 years to 10 years old) in two teams of nine and the whittle it down as winter arrives. I'm pretty sure Bully is ready for retirement and that Sister and Hitchcock won't be interested in those long runs (they'll be doing tours and puppy training) BUT we're going to give every dog a fresh start and go from there. You never know, Bully might have one more year of running in him or Sister and Hitchcock might be interested in, oh I don't know, pulling (!) this year. Who knows. I sure am excited to see what happens. The dogs are always full of surprises and seem to pull through when I really need them. We have four yearlings on the team this year: Maude, Mr. Lahey, Bubbles and Wayne. They're all siblings, very small and full of gumption. Rich and I harness-broke them all this spring and though it was a little nuts at times, they all did really well. The rest of the team I had last year, so I'm hoping they will be even more cohesive this season. My race plan changes every day, but right now I'm thinking about the GinGin, the Copper Basin 300, the Tustemena 200 and the Taiga 300 with some shorter races thrown in like the Aurora 50-50, the Goosebay 120 (Rich will run that) and the T-100 (Rich will run that, too.) We'll see how the dogs and the money hold up, though.
We're taking a new approach to fall training this year. Dog whisperer John Schandelmeier talked last season about training to learn and not just to stack up the miles. So, while we have the stability and braking power of the four-wheeler, we're going to train the dogs, not just run the dogs. That means putting my most non-leader dogs up front and moving the dogs around a lot. This is the time to do it. Last year I relied on Capiche and Bully in lead through all of fall training and then as my first race approached, Bully decided he didn't want to lead anymore and Capiche got a tweaked shoulder. That was not the time to find new leaders, I should have been running everyone up front throughout the season. Anyway, I ended up borrowing leaders from Greg Parvin but this year, I want backup leaders and backups to my backups. Anyway, Rich and I will both be on at the winery through the winter but are also going to try and get our own winter tour business going. We both have experience (I guided four-day wilderness tours via dogsled in Finland and Rich worked giving day trips in Montana a few winters ago. Plus we both did summer tours in Skagway.) and love introducing people to the dogs and the sport. Plus, with Rich's Iditarod stories and my Iditarod plight, I think people will engaged and excited. We'll see how it goes. So here's a little brochure I've been working on. It's not a final, just a draft. Tell me what you think. (I realize that saying 'competitive mushers' is a big stretch, but we do race...) The dog on the front is Mr. Lahey.