Saturday, January 5, 2008

Much Better Running Today

Most of Thursday's problems are forgotten, or least cast aside as today's run turned out much smoother, and was a heck of a lot of fun. It's been quite a while since I tried running Rose, one my Hedlund Husky twins, up in lead. I decided to give it a shot today to see what she might be willing to do. She's been running in the team like an old pro - so I figured to give it a go.

Oops. Today she wanted to be a puppy instead of a lead dog. We were no more than 1/4 mile into the run when she started trying to play with Dutchess, the other leader. This lead to a bit of tangle that had to wait until we got off the hard packed and icy road to fix. Once fixed she gave me maybe another half mile of solid performance before trying it again, shoving Dutchess into the deeper snow off the trail in her attempt to play. I hooked down and switched her out for Amazing Grace, and all the difficulties melted away.

This was a long run today, more than 12 miles. The weather was chilly but with a light snowfall that was welcome and a delight to run in. We did a little bit of everything during our run. We did some "gee/haw" work in Swenson's field, we were passed by a four-wheeler (no dogs) that the team was allowed to chase for a while, we encountered moose in the trail, and had a reasonably clean head-on pass with another dog team. We stretched our legs and looked at some more country, and basically we all just sort of got lost in time and space.

With Daisy apparently unable to handle the longer miles we are now running, Tammi and Many Rego of Rogue Summit Kennel own Dutchess. They have most kindly offered the loan of Torus. Torus is a well known, semi-retired Yukon Quest leader originally trained and run by Eric Butcher. I've driven Torus before and he's just an awesome dog. He's a bigger dog with a beautiful traditional appearance, and a great match for my team. I really love that guy and I'm honored that he'll be joining the Stardancer Historical Freight Dogs team. I'll be picking up Torus the next time I return home from my place of employment. That way he won't have to hang out in a "strange" yard just days after coming into my yard.

Here is the entry in my training journal about today's most awesome run:

1/5/08 Saturday: -10 to – 15 degrees F. Hard packed trail with a trace of new powder. Snowing lightly during most of the run. Toboggan with 120 lb of weight plus gear bag. 12.2 miles, 15.7 mph max speed, 9.2 moving average. 8.4 mph overall average (with stop to let moose wander off). Pleasant Valley Rd. to Swenson’s Field, quartered across the field to baseline. Baseline to airfield by Aliy’s, around airfield to hay field. Around ½ of hayfield to return to baseline, gee / haw work in Swenson’s field to baseline. Baseline past P.V. rd to big field, around big field to Paw Print Path to Pleasant Valley Rd. to Lynn’s yard.

Starting Lineup:

Dutchess & Rose

Grace & Polar (Lynn O’s)

Seamus & Nels

Sheenjek & Gump

Lynn O had to work this afternoon, but she helped me get the team hooked up and started out, for which I was very grateful. It’s been a long time since Rose was in lead and I wanted to see what would happen. It didn’t take long. She wanted to play with Dutchess instead of lead the team. As soon as we got off of Pleasant Valley Rd into decent snow I hooked them down to untangle. They ran pretty good for about a half mile or so before it all started again, so I hooked down and switched to this line-up:

Dutchess & Grace

Rose & Polar

Seamus & Nels

Sheenjek & Gump

That certainly did the trick. We did the southeast corner of Swenson’s field, and headed down baseline. On baseline a fast moving four-wheeler (no dogs) caught up to us, and I signaled him to pass as we hit the wide spot at Sonny Lindner’s place. He went wide around. Seamus and Rose shied away a bit to the side, but nothing drastic. Then the dogs gave chase to the machine, which I’m sure is where we hit our max speed of nearly 16 mph.

Just beyond Aliy and Allen’s place we took the ‘haw’ to circle around the landing strip. At the southwest corner of the landing strip a moose calf ran across the trail, and it took my full weight on the bar brake to prevent them from chasing the calf. I planted a hook in addition to my weight on the bar while the cow made up her mind (eventually) to follow her calf. I then made the team wait another couple of minutes to let the moose get well clear of the trail before we continued.

We finished our circle of the airfield back to baseline, then took the “haw” into the big hay field. We cut that in half taking the trail past the big equipment shed, “gee” on the crossover trail, then “haw” on the little trail along the treeline toward Aliy and Allens, which gave the excuse for a “gee” back onto baseline.

Just as we hit the turn onto the west edge of Swenson’s field we had a head on pass with another musher on a sled. Although Dutchess wanted to take the turn she corrected immediately and the leaders kept the team moving fore a clean pass. Seamus wanted to ‘visit’ but never got a chance to get far out of line. We took the “haw” to cut across the middle of Swenson’s field, but Dutchess refused to take a haw onto the main trail at the end of that, turning toward Rick’s place instead. Rather than risk an ugly tangle I let her get away with it, but decided to add some more gee/haw work into the run. We did the little loop away from Swenson’s yard, but instead of following it around I gave a “gee” to hit his outbound trail, a “haw” onto an unbroken side trail, a “gee” onto the main trail along the east edge of his field, followed by a “gee” onto the quartering trail, so we circled that quarter of the field again before going back up onto baseline.

I took the “straight ahead” past both the gravel pit and Pleasant Valley Road trails, and continued down baseline to the east edge of the big potato field. We then circled the ‘tater field back to Paw Print Path. Dutchess missed the “gee” onto Pleasant Valley Rd. but Grace pushed her into the turn, taking us back to Lynn’s yard.

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