Thursday, December 22, 2011

Solstice Trail Breaking Run

Yesterday my friend, Trish, came over to help me run a team of dogs.  We received several inches of snow during the time I was done, and in the hours before our run, so the dogs were leaving fresh tracks over most of the trails we covered.  Trail breaking is hard work, but I was very pleased with the way the team tackled to job.  I had Orion and Capella up in lead, and they did a very nice job working together. 

We took a different route this time than we've done in the past.  I had heard that the 'Swamp Trail' is in much better shape now than earlier this month, so wanted to incorporate that into our run.  I also wanted to take the team on a route they've never seen before, so chose to run from the house, up the trail that parallels Two Rivers Road, then cut across a survey line to Rod and Julie's feeder trail.  That trail (more like a path) crosses Potlatch Creek and although we haven't run it before, someone on a snow machine had been over it for at least 1 pass, so it was visible and I was confident the creek crossing would be O.K.  The snow was especially deep over that section, but the dogs worked hard and we made surprisingly good time over that section.

Breaking trail on the survey line
The survey line includes a pretty steep hill climb, but the dogs managed it with no more than a couple of stops to catch their breath.  Mostly they keep their bellies to the snow and just did their "freight dog thing" to gain the summit.

Climbing toward the summit
We made first tracks out Rod and Julie's trail, zig-zagging through the trees.  I only bounced the new sled off 1 tree when my wheel dogs cut the corner a bit too close.  My friend got a giggle when I commented "Well, that'll scratch the paint".  That was really the closest thing to a mishap we faced once we'd gotten the team moving down the trail.

I feel I should apologize for the quality of the photos.  They are stills, captured from video recorded on my CountourGPS video recorder.  There was a bit of snow on the lens which caused the photos to be a bit pixilated in spots.  The darkness is an accurate depiction of the light we had at the time, about mid-day on the shortest day of the year.

We only had about 3 1/4 hours of sunlight yesterday, and with the heavy overcast and falling snow, not much of it was available at ground level.  Nonetheless, we took advantage of what we had and enjoyed a great, albeit physically challenging, day on the trail.

Here is the entry in my training journal:

Date, Day, &c:
Wednesday, Dec 21, 1011
Mileage & Speed: 
~ 5 miles.  Distance and speeds not recorded, but video play back with GPS consistently showed speeds of 8 to 10 mph
Route, Trail & Terrain Conditions: 
Home to 2Rvrs Rd trail to survey line to Rod and Julie's feeder to Little Chena River ridge trail to swamp trail to home.  Unbroken powder over hard-pack.  Traveling sled with passenger.
Snowing.  Temperatures in the + 20 degree range
Orion and Capella (lead)
Seamus (single swing)
Grace (single team)
Rose and Beau (wheel)
Orion was difficult to get harnessed and hooked up beside his sister.  Grace grabbing lines, and chewed through one of Seamus' tug lines.  Would have been a problem if he were not in a single position on a dual dog line.  Once moving things smoothed out nicely.

Had some difficulty getting the leaders to take the "haw" onto the survey line as we've never gone that way before.  At first they needed some help so I had Trish stand the brake while I pulled them over to the trail.  As I was returning to the sled they dashed back to the main trail, but I called for a "haw" and they responded to it properly.  They did very well with directional cues the rest of the run. 

Most of it was just hard slogging while breaking trail, and the team did a very nice job of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment