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On Halloween, I tested the waters as a dog “driving instructor,” giving a one-on-one seminar on how to camp with a dog team. The class went so well that I’m considering opening it up to anyone interested in becoming more efficient or just gaining confidence in taking a trail break, whether inside or outside of checkpoints.
I sat down with the musher for two hours on the night of the 30th, going over what she knew and what she needed to learn. And the next day, she was on her own to pack her supplies (cooker, straw, booties, etc.), and head out on a training run to a spot where I could meet her. She set about doing all the routine dog duties while I watched and we talked about her routine. After a two-hour pitstop, she turned her team around and drove them back to her dog truck.
Heads up: I have a new article posted on the Momentum dog food web site, \Dr. Tim’s Pet Food Company – Champions’ Corner, or short url: http://bit.ly/3SwTsk. There should be more articles coming over the course of the winter. Parts of them may be posted right here as well.
The article is part of a mini class I may be teaching here in Kasilof, talking with newer distance mushers about camping on the trail and then giving them an opportunity to practice while I am with them. The whole point is to go over the fundamentals of caring for dogs when you are by yourself, being efficient, and gaining confidence so you can pull over whenever it is right for the dogs to have a big meal and take a nap.
Mushers who’ve gained skills in running long distance often come from backgrounds where winter camping is foreign and a little intimidating.
There isn’t a lot of excitement, usually, during the slog days of fall training, and it has been a fairly typical year so far. We’re running a little longer than when we started, but the temperatures have remained stubbornly high, so water breaks are a major plus for the dogs. I’ve started running the team on the beach between Cohoe and Clam Gulch, and there’s at least one creek that really helps cool them off. They look vastly smoother in gait and more peppy once they’ve left the water. Here’s some images from our last water break…
The 2010 season is officially under way here, in Kasilof, despite the lingering warm weather we’ve enjoyed lately.
I’ve been taking the dogs on runs in the evenings, which wouldn’t be possible if our trail didn’t cross a wetland between two lakes.
That’s what a friend of mine called this time of winter in Alaska, when you’ve got 12 hours of daylight and the snow is hard-packed and the daytime temperatures are warm.
Contrary to popular belief, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race does not end when the nose of the first dog crosses the finish line. There’s 35 other teams out there still “racing” at that point.
Lance Mackey’s 15 dogs looked so good coming to the finish line that it was almost inconceivable that they’d just raced nearly 1,000 miles through some of harshest weather the Bering Sea coast can dish out.
The big poll has ended, since they’re starting to make their way onto the trail. Seavey already passed Burmeister in the first few miles, but mushers need to be careful in this run. If they go out too fast early, they can really slow down once they’ve passed Safety. It is an art.
And Unalakleet, and Kaltag, and Eagle Island and Grayling. Finally, They’re just about all moving again.
Young Dallas Seavey was among the first out of Shaktoolik this morning, accoring to the green blip that shows his movements on the Iditarod’s GPS tracker. My wife, Brandi, quickly guessed that Dallas, the dutiful son, was selflessly bringing food, straw and supplies to his father, Mitch, and to Aaron Burmeister, who’ve been parked almost 24 hours at the shelter cabin just 12 miles beyond Shaktoolik. She called Danny Seavey to find out. Danny laughed.