Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Long Day

Yesterday turned into quite a long day.  I was up at 6:00 AM, which is typical.  I fed the team and then Ted Kirby (our handler) came over to discuss projects we want to do around the kennel this summer.  Mike Green stopped by and joined us as we discussed the only topic worth discussing in Two Rivers, that being sled dogs.

I shoo'ed Ted and Mike away to go run some of those sled dogs before it got too warm.  That's difficult this time of year.  Yesterday the low temperature was about -10 below zero when I fed.  When I started my run only 2 hours later it was up to +15, and when we finished our run it was up to +34.

While trying to launch, the mechanical quick release I've been using jambed up very badly and I eventually had to just cut the snub-line to launch the team.  I did that knowing it would require a trip to town for replacement rope.

We had a couple of adventures while out on the trail.  I took a somewhat different route out to the ponds, and of course I can't do something new without losing my way at least once.  I spontaneously decided to take the Dead Martin Trail up to the ponds, but ended up taking a wrong turn and had to hook down and turn the team around.  There is a bit of a process to that probably worth describing.

First, hook the team down.

Second, take the snowhook on the side around which you want to lead the dogs beyond the front of the sled, and hook it down.

Third, go to your leaders and guide them, and the team, around to face the opposite direction.

Fourth:  Now the original hook is located ahead of the sled.  Remove it from the snow and replant it beside the sled.

Fifth:  clear all the tangles that result, 'cause it never goes as easily as one might hope.

Sixth:  Love up on each dog in the team.

Seventh:  Mount the sled, pull the hooks, and launch.

Here is a map of our trip yesterday.  You can click on it to see a larger version.

The "Dead Martin Trail" is the easternmost trail in the loop up by the ponds.  The "tag" above the loop shows the route up to where we turned around.

I had Orion leading beside Just on the outbound portion of the run.  He did a nice job up front and it was fun to watch him working well.  Here is some video of that.

When we got onto the pond, I hooked the team down and did a leader swap, so that Capella could run up front for a while.  Shortly after leaving the pond we had a really bad pass with a team driven by one of my neighbors, who was carrying a passenger in the basket of her sled.  While untangling my dogs little Capella got loose and went dashing off down the trail.  Here's the result of her little escapade.

With all the dogs back on the gang-line we launched again.  I noticed very shortly that Orion was off his tug.  When his tugline went slack it bounced off his back legs, causing his "wierd" gait change.  It was the same sort of oddness I noticed after our accident with the tree the other day.  I'm not sure if it's a result of him being tired, hot or stressed by unusual incidents.  It's probably a combination of all three, and a few nice, clean runs should provide a remedy.

Meanwhile, here is some video of Capella working up front.

Once we had returned home, I watered and settled the dogs and then dashed into town to buy some new rope and some dog biscuits.  I got home with just enough time to feed the dogs their supper and scoop the yard, grab a shower and head over to Stephanie Little Wolf's house for supper.

When I returned home I started processing video while I worked on the new snub-line.  This required splicing a loop into one end of the 3-strand twisted nylon rope, and whipping the other (working) end.  It's not difficult, but it does take some time.  I didn't get finished until nearly 11 PM.

Thus far this morning I've fed the dogs, prepared and eaten my own breakfast, answered Emails, made some phone calls, prepared this Blog entry, and now I'm getting ready to go out on the trail and do it all again.

Here is yesterday's training journal entry:

9 1/2 miles.  Home to Two Rivers Rd trail to Swamp Trail to Money Trail to Dead Martin Trail, past ponds.  Backtracked to come out in between the two ponds.  Return via the first pond to Money trail and backtracked home.  See map labled this date for additional details.

6 dogs on 8 dog line:

Temperature +15 at start.  +34 at finish.

Starting team:
Just and Orion (lead)
Capella (swing)
Cassiopeia (team)
Nels and Grace (wheel)

Orion did an excellent job running lead beside Just.  The pair were spot on with their cues, even when I called for a gee onto a trail we have run before. 

Grace was awful to Nels.  He'd somehow gotten under the gangline and was crowding her, and she took severe exception to it.  I finally had to hook down and help Nels under the line.  Even then Grace was snarky, and I ended up stopping a second time to shorten Grace's tug line.  That was better, but not so good as I'd like to see. 

I missed the turn to the ponds off of the Dead Martin trail, so we ended up about half way up the hill before I found a wide spot in which to turn the team around.  That required some time as I had a couple of tangles once the maneuver was completed.  I could probably prevent some of those problems by unhooking tug lines before turning the team back.

Back on the correct trail, we came out onto the trail between the two ponds and I turned the team "haw", to do the first pond.  Stopped on that pond to make a leader change.

Second Team:
Just and Capella (lead)
Orion (single swing)
Rose (single team)
Nels and Grace

Again Grace snarked at Nels on launch, but finally settled in to run pretty nicely.  Just and Capella took us along at a very nice trot, matching their gaits very nicely.  It was pretty to watch.

Had a head on pass with Judy Cooper that didn't go so well.  Capella wanted to visit, spun around and ducked under the gangline just in front of Orion.  That resulted in a big tangle that took some time to clear.

Orion had been running nicely up to that point, but after the bad pass went off his tug and was necklining pretty much through the remainder of the run.  I'm thinking the combination of being hot, tired and then something unusual happening on the trail is the trigger for that behavior.  I'll need to give him some nice, clean runs in order to resolve it. 

Rose was a trooper throughout.  She just ran along enjoying the party, working hard the entire time. 

1 comment:

  1. As usual, enjoyed your commentary and videos. But the "recall"- YAY! for sure!