Things didn't go exactly as planned, but no lasting harm was done to anyone or anything, and though we hadn't planned to be out quite so long, we were able to enjoy a nice moonrise as we were returning to the kennel.
Here's the entry in my training journal, which will provide a bit more detailed information.
12/20/10 – Run to the Ponds and back
Two teams, 8.85 miles. Home to main trail to swamp trail to Little Chena Road Extension trail to money trail to the ponds, and return. Mostly hard icy trail, though we broke out trail on a couple of inches of powder on the section of the Money Trail from the Little Chena Rd Extension to "Times Square" intersection. 13.8 mph max speed (NOT during launch), 6.5 mph average speed.
Temperature -22 F (-30C) at start, -24 F (-31C) at finish.
My team (5 dogs) – on my wooden basket sled
Grace (single lead)
Just & Cassie (swing / team)
Seamus & Beau (wheel)
Ted's team (4 dogs) – on his Mackler sled
Rose (single lead)
Capella (single team/swing)
Orion & Nels
Everything went smoothly during launch and up to the Chena Ridge Extension Trail. Grace tried to take the "haw" down the Boyce feeder trail, but corrected and followed the "gee" cue after a couple of attempts. She took the haw onto the money trail just fine, and took a gee to go past Mike Green's feeder trail well. I called for a haw as we entered the first pond, but finally had to hook down and pull Grace over to the correct trail, as she wanted to go straight ahead.
At the top of the second pond there isn't a clear trail to follow the pond perimeter, but there is a very active trail leaving the pond, which Grace wanted to follow. I was unable to convince her to go "gee" on a snow machine trail that would have taken us on around the perimeter.
After several attempts at pulling her onto that snow machine track, I brought Just up beside Grace. That's about the time they popped the hook and headed up their original route. I ran toward the sled and tried to grab it, but fell on my face and missed, so had the "joy" of seeing my team and sled disappear through the trees.
I asked Ted to chase down the team and I headed up on foot, but that trail intersects a busy trail shortly up from the pond, and we were at a quandary about which direction to follow. Then I heard Seamus bark, and found the team only about 30 yards down that big trail, planted by the snowhook that had been dragging.
There wasn't enough room in the trail to turn the two teams around, so we went further down it to a wide spot. We were able to get both teams turned around without too much disorder, but on the way back Rose wanted to follow our original route in, but Ted wanted her to take a "haw" cue to follow the left bank of the pond. He had to make several attempts to finally convince her. Meanwhile Just broke the tug on his harness, so I had to hook down and go up to fix that. Finally we got the teams going again.
Once off the ponds Ted asked me to pass his team to take the lead. Grace and Just aren't real good at passing another team so we had a bit of a ball up during that process, but finally got around the other dogs.
The trip home was slow, as the dogs were flagging by then and the terrain is a steady uphill climb. Once back to the Little Chena Rd. Extension trail, which is hardpacked on ice, they had less trouble hauling us up the hill, and maintained a nice trot going back down toward the swamp trail and on toward home.
No injuries to any of the dogs, but it didn't do my backache a whole lot of good. No major harm was done, we had some training opportunities, and we finished our run as the full moon was rising in a mostly clear sky.