Once upon a time a cheechako asked an old sourdough, "Have you ever been lost up here?"
The sourdough thought on it a bit and said, "Well, I ain't never been lost exactly, but I've been a might confused for a week or two."
I got a might confused for a few minutes today, which resulted in my running a trail I've not been on since I was first learning to drive sled dogs during the 2005 - 06 season. Edie Forrest used to hook up her sled to a snowmachine and run me out to scout the trail before she ran her race team. Her rule was that I couldn't run her dogs until I could get the sled down the Hill of Death without falling.
It seemed like it took FOREVER for me to accomplish that feat, but today, well I ended up running bigger team of bigger dogs down the Hill of Death, and thinking it really wasn't all that big of a deal. It's amazing how our perspective changes over time, eh?
Here's how it happened. I planned to run the team out to a pair of ponds and then take a trail I haven't run before, the Dead Martin trail, off the ponds and back to the Money Trail. It was a good idea at the time, but with a low overcast and snow showers the light was really flat, and I just didn't see the intersection of the Dead Martin trail. Consequently I found myself out on Edie's training trail. Since I knew where I was and knew the trail is wide enough to turn the team around up there, I headed up. Once beyond the peak I stopped the team, hooked 'em down, and pulled the leaders around to the opposite direction.
On the first attempt to bring the team around Grace and Just ducked under the gangline right behind Capella and Cassie (in swing), which caused an ugly tangle that required me to unhook some tug lines to undo. In the process I inadvertently unhooked both Cassie's tug, and her neckline. I got the dogs lined out and realized there only only 5, when I just KNEW I'd started with six. I looked back behind the now-reversed sled, and there stood Cassie, waiting patiently. I called her and she just trotted over into place so I could hook her in again.
Going back down the Hill of Death was easy. I mean seriously easy compared to most of the hills we run. As we dropping back down into the bottoms I was reminiscing about all the mishaps I'd had when I looked down the trail, and here came Edie with her team running right up. We had a PERFECT pass. When I talked to Edie on the phone later she said it was the first time her new leader in training had every had a problem free pass with another team.
We had a nice run down our backtrail, and as we were working our way down to the Swamp Trail we encountered my handler, Ted Kirby with his team of Siberian huskies. We had a nice, smooth pass with Ted as well. Here is a video of that encounter (it's only about 1 1/2 minutes long):
The rest of the run was just an uneventful dash through the swamp and back to the house. Here is a GPS topographical map showing the country we covered today.