Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ran Dogs Today (YAY!)

This past week has been a bit of a bear.  In addition to bitter cold weather, I've haven't felt particularly well.  I came down with a head cold that was bad enough to prompt me to medicate myself for a couple of days.  I usually try to avoid taking over-the-counter remedies for minor ailments, but this time it seemed to be a prudent thing to do.

Today the weather was much nicer, so I decided it was well past time I hooked up a team of dogs.  We had several challenges (aka "training opportunities") during the run, but we all made it home without any fights, accidental breedings or injuries, so it can be counted as successful.  Sorry I didn't take any photos today.  I pretty much had my hands full driving the team and running the dogs.

Sunday, 1/17/10:

Work, illness and bitter cold weather have kept us off the trail since the end of December. 

8.5 miles
12.3 mph max speed
7.5 mph moving average
6.4 mph overall average, includes time required to hook up dogs at start, and stops as described in narrative below:

Torus & Grace
Nels & Orion
Seamus & Beau

+5 (F) at start.  -3 (F) at finish.  Home to Two Rivers Rd trail to Swamp Trail to Little Chena Rd extension to wood cutting rd. to steep entry onto Two Rivers Rd Trail to home.  This gives a flat start, serious hill climbing in the middle, and a flat return.

Trails are very hard packed, icy, rutted and torn up from traffic.  Swamp trail exceptionally rough.

Today’s run offered several ‘training opportunities’.  Fairly easy hook up this afternoon.  I took my time with a long pause between each step until the dogs settled down some.  Rode brake hard to control speed on launch.  Nels and Orion got into a tangle involving both tug and neck lines, but I was able to hook into a tree to stop the team and get them straightened out.  I let them open up once we turned onto the main trail, and they were reasonably quick to settle into a nice, fast trot. 

Good haw onto the swamp trail.  Someone has made a couple of passes with a drag, and several snow machines have used the trail.  If anything it’s rougher than it was the last time I ran it.  Not particularly fun. 

The climb up birch hill was tedious, requiring several stops and starts.  Toward the top of birch hill we had a head-on pass with an oncoming downhill team.  It was pretty ugly.  His leaders wanted to clothesline my team, finally passed to our right.  Grace and Orion were both terribly confused and ended up in the guys team for a wee bit.  He finally got around OK and down the trail, but I had to hook down in snow (LOL) to fix a big main-line tangle.  By the time I got that done Grace and Orion were ready to run again, so no apparent harm was done. 

Had a second head on pass on the wood cutting road.  Another big team, male musher with a small child in the basket and towing a little kid’s basket sled.  I called “gee by” as soon as I saw his leaders and this pass went more smoothly.  Orion balked and nearly brought my team to a halt, but we made it by without any major issues.  About a mile down the road from there passed by two parked snow machines and their riders.  Orion shied away from the machines and got into a neckline tangle, so I had to hook into a tree to untangle that. 

Took the steep slope down onto the main trail, but won’t repeat it until we have more snow.  Riding brake on the way down, and the sled was still airborne and basically out of control over one hump.  I was able to regain control quickly, but it certainly wasn’t pretty.  The section of trail just beyond the steep hill is the ugliest of the run, with deep ruts from four-wheeler tires, lots of iced over spots, deep holes, and other obstructions. 

Two loose dogs on the trail, with their owners fairly close behind.  I called “trail” as soon as I saw them and slowed my gang.  Owners got their dogs barely into the woods, and I didn’t have the team close to speed when we reached them.  Orion wanted to visit, drug the team over which led Torus and Grace to believe they were allowed to visit also.  I finally convinced Torus to line ‘em out and get ‘em moving again.  It wasn’t pretty but again no harm was done.  About 400 yards or so beyond them I hooked into a tree to untangle Orion and Nels, another neckline and harness tangle, but not so bad as the first one. 

The remainder of the run was pretty routine, and the team gave me a nice sprint up into the yard. 

I’ll have to decide between now and tomorrow whether or not to mush a team over to Mike’s to board for my next tour of duty at work.

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