Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dog Day

Yesterday was the first truly fun day of this R&R.  With the help of Trish Cordon, I ran a team of dogs, and then she and I spent the evening at the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race awards and finish banquet in town.

First, our sled dog run.  While I was away at work we had some snow fall here.  I knew my first team would have to break out the trail from the house, down the power line right of way, to the main trail, and I assumed we would also have to break out trail from my neighbor's main feeder trail, down their long driveway, and back to our feeder trail and house.  To do that, I figured I'd hook up an 8 dog team of larger and more controllable dogs, and just do it as a short, but probably difficult, run.

Trail breaking needs to be done with a toboggan, or a toboggan sled, with a flat bottom that floats on the snow rather than runners that sink in and bog down the works.  Since I only have 1 such sled, Trish agreed to ride in the basket rather than chasing me with a team of her own.

The team I chose consisted of the following:

Lead dogs - Capella and Cassiopeia.  These young leaders are hard working dogs that prefer to trot along rather than loping headlong down the trail.  They are quickly becoming excellent gee/haw leaders and I felt I could trust them to work at a pace that wouldn't tire the dogs following.

Swing dogs - Midnight's Son and Seamus.  Both a good sized dogs that add a lot of power to the team.  Although Midnight can be a bit unruly at times, that is balanced by Seamus who is always well behaved and easy to manage in a team.

Team dogs - Rose and Nels.  Six year old siblings, they are half-Hedlund husky and half from Wil Forsberg's famous freighting lines.  Big, strong dogs who are well experienced, easy to handle, and get the job done.

Denali and Beau - Although both of these boys are older dogs, they are really good workers, good sized, and like the others chosen for this team, well mannered.

So, what happened?  Well, the snow on my feeder trail wasn't so deep as I had thought.  The main trail was very well traveled and packed, and Rod and Julie's feeder trail was also well traveled and packed.  The cross over trail to the long driveway only had a couple of inches of new snow on packed trail.  So, it was a much easier run that I had expected.  Had I known this in advance we'd have gone for a much longer training run.

We did come across a hiker with a loose dog out on the trail.  The hiker grabbed his dog and got well off the trail.  This isn't something that Capella and Cassie have encountered while in lead before, but they handled it pretty well when that is considered.

After our run Trish and I did our kennel chores and then prepared to head into Fairbanks for the Yukon Quest awards banquet.  At the banquet Brent Sass confirmed that his plan when camped at Medicine Lake was exactly as I thought, but he was thwarted by warm weather on the summits.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Jeff Richardson tells the story of the awards better than can I in his article in today's issue of the paper.  Here are some photos I captured that you may enjoy.

Champion Allen Moore receives his trophy, beautifully done in stained glass.

Hugh Neff at the awards banquet
Brent Sass, third place finisher and winner of the Sportsmanship Award
Abbie West said that while running with caribou she wished she had her rifle.
Trish and my table mate, previous YQ champion Sebastian Schnuelle
Previous YQ champion and local heroine, Aliy Zirkle.  She and Allen are the only married couple to have each won the race.

1 comment: