Monday, December 27, 2010

Her hardest hue to hold

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and is gearing up for a splendid New Year. Our Christmas was low key as usual, but it was nice to enjoy good food and drink with friends. Christmas day we hung around the cabin, cut firewood, ran dogs, made quiche and opened gifts. It was perfect. I'm getting ready to start work in the New Year and am really looking forward to it. It's been a couple years since I've had a 'real' job (read: one that requires showering on a regular basis) and I think it will be a nice change. Busier, yes, since I'll be running dogs in the mornings and/or evenings depending on my work schedule, but we're not doing super long runs so I think it will be manageable. All the dogs are running, though about half the kennel has picked up some kind of parasite so until we get it figured out completely, the runs are short. We've got meds on order and hopefully they'll be here this week so we can get the dogs healthy and get back to exploring the high country. Until then they're getting plenty of rest and eating a bland diet. We've done a few tours over the past month and have really enjoyed meeting new people and giving them the chance to experience dog mushing with us. Our friends Katy and Franny, who are working for Libby, have been coming over to help with tours and run dogs. They've been a big help and are fun to work with. I'm looking forward to doing some camping trips with them when the dogs are back to 100 per cent. Meanwhile, Rich is working hard on the new bottling facility for the winery and is enjoying being a bona fide builder.
I think that's it for now. Happy New Year from all of us here at the kennel.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Found myself just the other day

Rich and I took two teams out yesterday to explore some of the trails we ran on last winter and I had my first crash of the season. I thought I pulled every muscle from my waist up although this morning I wasn't really as sore as I thought I'd be. Let me paint a little picture for you:
The team was moving nicely up a side-hilly incline and we got to a junction which we call 'Moose Camp.' So far this year, we've gone left. Today I wanted to go right. Since we got new snow, the trail to the left wasn't even there anymore and the trail to the right was a highway, so I figured it wouldn't be an issue. Instinctively, my leaders - Ku and his son Tim - turned left. I stepped on the brake and told them 'Gee!' They went right. Good dogs. But then they ducked back over to the left. 'No, Ku! Gee!' Ku moved back over but this time, since we had moved forward a little, he and Tim went the wrong way around a big hump topped with a big stump. Dammit. I was now in powder, so there was no setting a hook. Well, Ku and Tim were pointed the way I wanted them to go, so we might just have to climb up and over this stumpy hump. So be it. I call the team up and off we went, each pair going up and over. Easy. Until my wheel dogs, Crush and Doyon got there. They went on either side of the stump and Crush's tugline got caught up. Double dammit. The team came to a stop and before I even realized what I was doing I ran up while the team was still fairly calm (confused) and pulled back on the gangline, releasing Crush's tugline and thus sending the whole operation slingshotting forward. I turned to get ready to catch my sled, got hit with the brushbow and rolled onto the sledbag. I grabbed the handlebar, flopped off the sled and, hand over hand, worked my way back. We were heading downhill so I tipped my sled hoping to create enough drag that the dogs would stop momentarily so I could get back on the runners. They did and I did. Off we went, the dogs with a renewed vigor knowing they had dumped me, and me with a parka full of snow and a huge, embarrassed grin on my face.
These days we still not doing big miles but gradually increasing and just having a bit of fun. I've come to the realization that I have to get a real (read: full time) job. I'm still planning on a entering a couple of races at the end of the season and we're still going to do some weekend tours, but taking the winter off from a full time job is just not feasible right now. I put a lot of pressure on myself and it's made things that I used to love doing very, very stressful. So, I'm taking the stress out and getting back to basics. A 1,000 mile race is still on my radar, but not this year and not next. Meanwhile, we've got all the dogs running and they're having fun, too.

Heading down the Swiss Cheese Trail.

Ku, on the left, cooling off while Tim looks on.

Million-dollar view.

Back in the dog yard checking feet after the run, the alpenglow cast warm tones on the mountains beyond...and on Mr. Lahey...