Sunday, January 9, 2011

For Want of a .....

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

 For want of a ten-cent lock washer, I had a very interesting training run today.  I'll try to explain in a reasonably clear manner.

The plastic on the newly fabricated drag mat bracket is just a bit thicker than was that of the original.  Even though I tried to thin it down some it is still a bit of the 'fat' side.  I bolted it to the bracket with a carriage bolt and nut, the SAME carriage bolt and nut that fastened the original.  Since I'd never had a problem with the original set up, I figured I was good to go.
This afternoon I hooked up a small, four-dog team.  

Rose (single lead)
Capella (single swing / team)
Orion & Nels (wheel)

Orion and Nels got tangled with each other at the start, so I had to stop before we even got started.  It was so bad I ended up unhooking all the dogs and basically starting all over again.  Once back on the hook-up line I gave them about 15 minutes to settle down, Things went much more smoothly on our second attempt, at least for a while.

As we launched Nels got into another harness tangle, so after letting them trot along for 1/4 mile or so I stopped, hooked down, and got Nels straightened out.  Then we were off again at a high-lope, moving right along.

Rose followed my "haw" cue past the side trail to the Two Rivers Road trail-head parking area, she  took the haw onto the swamp trail, and then took the haw at the top of the hill to my neighbor's feeder trail.  At that point I was really please with the newly fabricated drag mat bracket and the addition of a couple more studs to give it more "grip" on icy trails.  We zig-zagged through the trees in good fashion.

As we approached the same snow-machine trail that Rose tried to dash down the other day, she again tried to take the left trail (though I really can't imagine why).  I stomped on the brake, only to find I had no brake - it was hung up on the new mat bracket.   

Fortunately I was able to stop the team when the sled hit deeper snow beside the trail, and got Rose into the correct direction.   Then came the real surprise.  As we got to Ted's cabin Rose decided to take a shortcut down Ted's driveway.  I have no idea why, as we've NEVER done that.  She's never walked along that cabin on a leash, let alone while in a team.  The lack of a brake became an rather acute issue, but a well planted fence post brought the sled, and the team to a halt.  I ended up planting hooks and bringing Rose around to the correct trail. 

We made it home with no further mishap or damage (for which I'm very, very grateful), and once the dogs were settled and I finished scooping the yard I headed to town to buy a lousy 10-cent lock washer.  Actually, I bought 2 of them, just in case I need a spare.  Apparently the nut had worked itself loose, allowing the bolt to extend inward, blocking the brake bar's movement.

The second team of dogs will have to wait until tomorrow to run.

In the Copper Basin 300, Allen Moore took a wrong turn while running up the trans-Alaska oil pipeline out of Glennallen, which cost him a couple of hours.  Allen has gotten lost in that race before, and come back to win, so we'll have to see how greatly it impacts.  Currently the leading teams are in Tolsona, where some are taking their mandatory 8 hour layover.  The leader board shows a handful of teams into Wolverine Lodge, including front runners Sven Haltmann, Matt Hyashida, Josh Cadzow, Jessica Hendricks and Robert Buntzen.  None of these mushers have yet taken their mandatory layover.

Apparently Abbie West has scratched from the race.  Here is what she wrote in a Facebook entry.  

"About half way out a dog I borrowed from some friends got loose. A couple of mushers behind me tried to catch it but couldn't. I waited and got reports it was headed back towards Paxson. I turned around but didn't see it for miles and miles, finally I caught a glimpse of ...the reflectors on its harness on top of the summit. I didn't see it again until half way across the Gakona River and it came right up to me. I put it back in the team and decided to head back into Paxson. The ice gave out on the river as I was crossing. I was in about waist deep of water and the dogs were swimming I drug everyone out, dried them off as best I could in the deep snow and B-Lined back to Paxson. We all got thawed out, everyone is okay, I am just a little bummed to not have the chance to show off my new pups!"

 So, for want of a lock-washer I had a devil of a time getting my little team home safely, and for want of a dog Abbie ended up scratching from the race.  Thank goodness she and her dogs are all safe, though.  Falling through thin ice is not conducive to longevity.  

Tomorrow I'll try to run my other team, and maybe repeat this run with the today's four dogs as well.  I need to pack my work-stuff as I have to leave for my workplace early Tuesday.  Wishing you a great night...



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