Sunday, March 7, 2010

Looking Ahead

It's not quite 8 am on Sunday morning.  I was awake early this morning, probably because I also crashed early last night.  I had originally considered going to the Lodge for supper, but I really didn't feel all that hungry nor all that sociable, so I took a pass.  Now I'm enjoying a cup of coffee, contemplating breakfast, and planning the week ahead.

This afternoon I plan to run dogs with James Langston, Edie Forrest and Randy Dunbar at their place on the Baseline Trail.  I hope to shoot some video or at least capture some still images that I think you'll really enjoy.  I visited with all three for a little bit yesterday while they were training dogs at Edie's place.

Tomorrow afternoon I need to deliver a black powder order to a gentleman outside of North Pole and then go into town to pick up the check for the cabin project.  I'll get that deposited straight away before doing just a wee bit of shopping.  I've run out of fluorescent light tubes and need to replace some that burned out.   That seems to be a constant issue here at the house, and I'm not sure why.  I was under the impression that fluorescent lighting is supposed to be more long-lasting and less energy intensive than incandescent, but I'm starting to question that.

Tuesday afternoon I have an appointment to meet with my accountant to prepare my income tax return.  Not much can be said about that - it's a necessary evil.

Wednesday will be the last full day I have to myself this R&R, and I plan to spend it mostly running dogs.  If I can manage to do so I should run two teams and it will likely be our last opportunity to run with sleds this season.  Thursday I'll take the dogs over to their boarding kennel before boarding a plane for Anchorage, where I'll spend the weekend doing my annual medical refresher training.

Since this is not a recertification year, the only "alphabet" course I have to do is PALS - Pediatric Advanced Life Support.  We also will be doing some training on suturing and wound care and on emergency dentistry.  It's all part of the broad scope of practice expected of medics at remote sites in the oil industry here in Alaska.

I'll be home from Anchorage Monday afternoon, just in time to prepare to return to work for two weeks of night shift.  By the time I return home and have free time to myself, I suspect the snow will be gone from the trails and we'll be in the midst of break-up, AKA "Mud Season".  Once the temperatures are consistently above freezing the trails won't hold up for very long at all.  With a little luck I may be able to pick up a used four-wheeler to extend the mushing season by a few weeks. 

We did get a break in the weather yesterday.  About noon it started cooling off, and a few stray flakes of snow started falling.  By sunset the snow was falling steadily, and showed a bit of promise.  The falling snow made the task of feeding and deworming more fun.  When I feed tonight the crew will get the last of three doses of dewormer. 

I'm not sure when the snow stopped, but it was much earlier than I would have preferred.  We ended up with considerably less than an inch of very dry, powdery snow on the ground.  It looks like the temperatures will remain cooler for a few days.  Today's high is expected to be around 5 (F) above. 

The most recent reports I've heard regarding the Iditarod trail aren't totally horrible, but it won't be the easiest trail those racers have ever seen.  There is reported to be adequate snow between Willow and Alaska Range to be safe and manageable.  There is good snow in the mountain passes, but it becomes more sparse once they cross into the Interior.  Trail conditions in the Farewell Burn are very poor, as the photograph below, taken during the Iron Dog snow machine race, will demonstrate:

Challenging Snow Conditions in Farewell Burn

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