Hmmm, where to start telling the stories of our weekend…. should I start with the road kill story? The Hercules? The psycho mini horse?? …. Well, let’s start at the beginning …with the story of Mark trying to break his hand.
On Friday, as Mark’s quad was in the shop getting new wheel bearings and brakes (second set this year – the price to pay for a smokin’ dog team - VBG), we decided to truck a 14-dog team over to the Forfar campground and do some exploring out that way. Forfar is where we camped a few weekends ago and we are hoping to find more trails so we can do some multi day trips later this month.
We loaded down the Honda with an axe, saw, shovel, lunch for dogs and humans; the two of us and off we went. Sure enough, within the first ½ mile on the new route, we accidentally got off the main trail. Mark walked ahead and we picked our way through the frozen beaver dam and pond we had wound up on. As the trail hooked back up with the main trail there was a small ditch. I looked at it and vowed the quad wouldn’t go through. Mark muttered a few comments insinuating that I lacked courage and offered to drive it though for me. Not to put too fine a point on it – but I WAS RIGHT!
The front of the quad jammed into the ditch and Mark did a spectacular flip over the handlebar and smashed into the road on his back. Very lucky for him, his injuries weren’t too serious, although his hand got caught between the grip and the brake and I thought it might have been broken. Whether it had been or not (it wasn’t), I don’t think there was anyway he was going to admit it was. Men! It is now starting to burst into a lovely display of interesting colors. I told him when it is the most colorful, I’m going to take a picture of it for the website.
The rest of the day was lovely. We found more trails then we will ever be able to fully explore. There were even some really beautiful, marked snow machine trails. The dogs loved the change of scenery – as did we.
On the way home we spotted another quad working it’s way towards us on a long straight stretch of trail. We watched him coming towards us for about 1 mile and when he was just ahead of my leaders, it occurred to me that he hadn’t seen the team and was about to hit them. I hollered out ‘GEE’ to Camilla and Draco and they scooted over – at the same time the man (a trapper out checking his line) on the 4 wheeler’s head shot up – he had obviously not been paying any attention and I think we scared the living daylights out of him. Mark and I smiled and exchanged a greeting with him – but I think he was still trying to clear his head and figure out whether we were real or not! J
We arrived back at the truck – the dogs had done 34 miles of pretty tough trail, pulling both Mark and I, and still were full of beans at the end. Wow!
On Saturday, Mark ran into Athabasca and picked up his quad and we decided to run from home instead of going exploring again. The plan was to do a 40-mile loop that wound around the Perryvale area. Plans changed when we came out of our rough, bumpy muskeg trail and Mark realized his favorite leather mitts had bounced out of the box on his quad. We decided to do a different loop so we could come back on the same trail and, hopefully, pickup his mitts. The run was uneventful until we came around a corner and I noticed a flock of crows fly off something in the ditch. Ah, road kill, always fun to pass with the team.
A few weeks ago I had to wrestle a dead squirrel away from one of the dogs. YUCK! Anyway, as we came to the spot all the dogs took a good look at what was in the ditch (a dead coyote) but, very obediently, kept moving and stayed on the edge of the road UNTIL the pair in front of my wheel dogs got level with it. At that point Grover, yes, Grover…my sweet, wonderful, bulletproof leader grabbed the coyote and started carrying it down the trail.
Now, you have to know that the coyotes around here are about the same size as my dogs, so Grover was having some trouble carrying this while moving – so he decided to drop it. Surge and Kobuk were right behind him and instantly jumped on it. Surge grabbed it and gave it the ‘death shake’ (I think the car already took care of that for you, Surge). As I was braking, I was seriously thinking of puking knowing that I was going to have to wrestle this thing from them.
Thankfully, Mark had secured his team and was up to help me out in seconds. It took the two of us to convince the boys to give up their ‘treasure’, but they did and Mark flung it further into the ditch. At that point, we realized a car was coming down the road and we wanted to get out of there before that added to our problems. My team headed out and I looked over my shoulder to see Smiley drag Mark’s team into the ditch after the coyote. As the car went by Mark was wrestling him off it, while Gus tried valiantly to get everyone back on the trail. Sometimes it is so hard to smile and wave when cars are going by!
Not 2 miles down the trail after that we passed a field of horses. They all stopped grazing and lifted their heads as we approached. After a moment, they all turned and trotted off away from the road EXCEPT for the one tiny, miniature horse that was ‘thundering’ across the pasture after us. The dogs all turned their heads, and I SWEAR their jaws were hanging open as they watched this ‘snack size’ horse charging us. Mark was laughing so hard; I thought he was going to fall off his quad. We passed the field without incident and the little horse headed back to the pack to tell the others how brave he was and how he saved them from the ‘wolf pack’.
The rest of the run was uneventful. Mark even found both his gloves – although he swears there are tiny teeth marks in the leather on one of them.
Sunday we decided to head back to Forfar with 2 teams. The run was great and we found even more wonderful trails! Both of us are so excited at having found all these great trails reasonably close to home! As we pulled out of the trails and onto the gas company road that led back to the truck, there was a terrific rumbling. I looked up to see a huge military Hercules plane banking steeply, right over the treetops, just ahead of Mark. Mark swears he could see the pilot’s face it was so low. I braced myself for the crash I was sure was going to come – thankfully, it didn’t. The plane made another 5 or 6 passes as it appeared to circle over Cross Lake Provincial Park – although none quite as low or close as that first one! Must have been some practice run out of the Edmonton base! Pretty cool, actually.
On the way home Mark radioed a scary message back to me – “The porcupine is out” (Terry, if you are reading this – I was thinking of you!). Along the road is the home of a porcupine. He’s appears to be living in a tree on the side of the road that he has mostly stripped of bark. We spotted him on Friday, but luckily, the dogs didn’t. This day, Mark’s team had moved right over because of an oncoming truck and spotted ‘Quilly Willy’. Thankfully, they all went by him. I was very nervous about passing that spot, but Willy had tucked himself into a hole at the base of his tree, and we didn’t even see him. I think we are going to have to find a way around that spot, until the porky finds a new home. No point in tempting fate too often!
Sunday night we pulled back into the yard in the dark. As we waited for the yard lights to come on, so we could put dogs away and feed the yard, Mark asked if he could go back to work tomorrow, so he could get some rest!