Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Moonrise Run

I loaded up a team to run on the 'other side' of the highway, sharing the run with my friend Stephanie Little Wolf and a very talented junior musher named Robin.  Robin impressed me as a handler last year the Valley Funale race, and she is just as impressive on the runners.  She is quite light, so a small team of three dogs gets her down the trail very well, and very quickly.

When I arrived at Stephanie's the first order of business was to lash a new brush bow onto her sled.  It's the same sled I wrote about lashing last month.  Although I'd warned her the old brush bow had some issues, we reinstalled it any way.  An incident with a tree (the same damned tree we've all hit from time to time) broke one side of it, and an incident involving a puppy and a pickup truck finished the demolition job.  Did I mention that "all dogs are bent on destruction?"

In any event, we got a bit of a late start, but who cares?  It's a full moon and besides, I had a headlamp with me.  What I didn't realize is that headlamp had somehow turned on while stored in my bag, so it cast a feeble yellow glow rather than its normal brilliant white.  No problem, we were back at Steph's before full dark, the dogs don't need the additional light to see, and besides, we were running under a HUGE full moon that rose while we were out on the trail.

It was full dark by the time I got the team home and settled, though.  That's OK, my spare fully charged headlamp was available right next to the door.  I MUST remember to buy some more batteries, though.

All of the dogs got a special treat after I fed tonight - some nice salmon steaks.  They were very appreciative.  Have you ever enjoyed the aroma of salmon breath when a pup belches in your face?

 My mother was a single, working Mom and we grew up on a pretty tight budget.  She raised three healthy kids on an improvised pasta dish she always called "Slumgullion".  It's pretty darned good grub, too.

This evening I decided to look up the word on-line, and here is what I discovered about its origins.  I found a very nice article on this unusual word, written and copyrighted by Michael Quinn, on his "World Wide Words" website.  I do hope you'll click on the link and check it out. 

My Mom's version of slumgullion was more tasty than the word's origin would imply.  I made my own version for supper tonight, and it didn't turn out half bad, all things considered.

First, I chopped up a pair of beer brats I had in the fridge while boiling up a couple of cups of elbow macaroni (any sort of macaroni or noodles will do).  I fried up the sausage in a skillet, and tossed in a small tin of condensed tomato soup, a tablespoon or so of garlic powder, three shakes of tarragon (the last on my shelf), enough basil to notice it, and about a quarter cut of store-bought spaghetti sauce to thicken it.  Drain and strain the macaroni, stir in the sauce, and call it "supper".  Oh, and handful of Parmesan cheese is nice on it, too. 

OK, the dogs are fed, I'm fed, so it is time I can wash my dishes and kick back for a little while.  Here's the full training report from my journal:

December 29, 2009:

6.2 miles
14.7 max
7.1 moving avg

Flat terrain, hard pack and packed powder.  Stephanie’s to CHSR trail to Pleasant Valley Rd to Baseline to Schoen’s Field to Paw Print Path to P.V. Rd. and return.   Running with Stephanie Little Wolf and Robin  Baker, a very talented junior musher.

Torus & Grace (lead)
Cassiopeia & Capella (yearlings in team)
Sheenjek & Beau (wheel)

This was a team that seriously wanted to run.  Capella got her harness tangled on hook-up, but again only once and when I got her untangled she lined out like a trained sled dog.  Cassie had no such issues.  Grace we well behaved on hook-up too.  I brought Sheenjek up last so he wouldn’t be so tempted to yank on lines and such, and I didn’t catch him trying though I might not have been paying enough attention. 

When I pulled the quick release I had to have both feet and my full weight on the brake to keep the team from bolting, and they were still dragging me along some.  I was finally able to call them to a whoa so I could put my snubline into the sled bag, tucked out of the way.  Then we were off and running, even though I had a LOT of drag and brake to try to keep them slowed.

There were power line installation trucks parked at the intersection of the CHSR trail and P.V. Road, but Torus and Grace threaded the needle like a champ.  Torus thought he wanted to go to Lynn O’s place but corrected with my cue and Grace pulling him away.  We fairly flew down P.V. road. 

I had to stop to put my mittens away (they’d fallen down and were dragging on the ground beside the sled), and Beau, who had been running on the wrong side of the gangline to this point finally got straightened out.  The girls stayed lined out very nicely, and they were off again at full steam when I finally called them up. 

Grace stopped the team twice to defecate.  I need to run her back in the team a few times so she can learn to ‘poop on the run’.  It’s a real pain when a leader stops, and can easily lead to dangerous tangles if the musher isn’t paying attention.

A couple of times the girls were distracted by the team following close behind, but  for the most part they focused on their job until we encountered loose dogs at the top of Schoen’s Field.  Even then they picked up the pace along with the team and easily out ran them though they cast a few glances at the wayward pets.  I wish people would confine their freaking dogs.  They glanced toward Judy Currier’s place as we passed her kennel, but without breaking stride and with nothing more than mild curiosity. 

Torus needed some coaxing to run past Lynn O’s place as we returned toward the CHSR trail, and there were more trucks, and several workers standing and watching as we came up.  Torus and Grace did a marvelous job of getting around the traffic jam.  I might have broken a button or two, I was so proud of the team.  Even the little girls stayed focused and acted like full-grown team veterans. 

We slowed considerably on the return portion of the CHSR trail, and Torus again needed some coaxing to take the haw behind Mia’s cafĂ©, but once he knew what I wanted he was great.

One of my companions attempted a pass, but her dogs refused to move ahead further than my sled, so I gave my team their head and let them charge behind.  That resulted in a marvelous sprint to the finish. 

Torus and Grace led the team directly to the truck, just as they would in a larger parking lot. 

Did I mention we got a later than expected start, and got to see the nearly full moon rise?  It wasn’t full dark by the time we finished, but it was nice twilight, and fun to be running under a very visible moon. 

At some point my GPS fell out of it’s holster, but Robin picked it up for me.  It’s possible that the max speed recorded was done by her team rather than mine. 

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