Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I'm Definately Gonna Race 'Em - Maybe.

My goal for the season is to run my team in the 2008 Chena Hot Springs Resort's Centennial Passenger Race - a historical reenactment that commemorates the 1905 discovery (by Whites) of the hot springs. In that event teams are not ranked by speed, but rather by the level of historical authenticity. They nonetheless must arrive at the finish line within a specified time frame, so adequate training is required.

Dogs can only do what they've been trained to do, and I was hopeful that I could expose my team, especially my yearlings, to the distracting environment of a race start. Unfortunately, my work schedule conflicts with most races in which I could do that.

However, the Two Rivers Dogs Musher's Association announced that the Two Rivers Tune Up, a very popular fun race in my home town, has been postponed until December 1st due to low snow conditions. Since I will be off duty on the 1st, I've decided to enter most of my dogs in the 6 dog class.

So why write "Maybe?" Because right now we are in the midst of a chinook. No, not my dog named Chinook (the strong winter wind), but rather a "snow eater" chinook. If there isn't enough snow left to safely run the race on the 1st, it will be cancelled.

The Alaskan Interior chinook phenomenon is a Föhn wind that results from the movement of high and low pressure systems over the Alaska Range. As the wind moves over and through the mountains, the moisture in the air condenses and falls out as precipitation, warming the air by releasing latent heat. Then the air is warmed and dried by adiabatic compression as the air descends the leeward side of the mountain range.

Warm air descending the slope can also displace an existing cold, moist air mass, enhancing the temperature increase and moisture decrease observed with the Chinook. The turbulence of the high winds also can prevent the normal nocturnal temperature inversion from forming on the lee side of the slope, allowing nighttime temperatures to remain elevated.

Yesterday at this time, the temperature here at work was only +28 degrees F. (-2.2 C). Today it is +48 degrees (+9 C). As a result the little snow we have accumulated thus far is rapidly disappearing.

Time will tell whether or not I definitely get to race my dogs in the Two Rivers Tune Up, but I'm not going to waste a lot time worrying about it. No matter how much I worry, it won't change the weather. As a very wise woman once told me, "We can't always control the circumstances in which we find ourselves, but we can control our attitude about them." One way or the other I'll continue training my dogs.


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