Monday, 17 February 2003

February 17, 2003

Greetings from the shores of beautiful Lake Louise, Alaska. Where is Lake Louise, Alaska, you ask; and what the heck am I doing there??? Well, it happened like this......

Tuesday after the Knik 200 the weather in Alaska went 'south' - literally. The temperates jumped to the mid to high 30's and rain started falling. The trails were in good enough condition that one day of rain wasn't going to do too much damage - but day after day of that weather DESTROYED them. In no time the only thing covering dirt on the ground was ice - which made it virtually impossible to run the team with either a sled or a 4 wheeler. I was okay with that for the first while, after all, a good rest after Knik wasn't going to hurt anyone, but once things stretched to over a week, I began to panic.

To add to my panic, on Saturday I got a phone call from Iditarod advising mushers that they were considering moving the re-start to Fairbanks because of trail conditions. Tentative new mileages and checkpoints were given, but with the disclaimer that nothing was final until Tuesday - and, yes, food drops were still due Wednesday. Well, that gave me something to focus my energy on - I could redo my drop bags and race plan to accomodate this new route.

That night Mark and all my food drop stuff arrived. He had a good drive up, despite an hour delay at the border as they decided whether or not they were going to let my Iditarod meat supply for the dogs into the US. Seems they didn't believe that one dog team could use that much meat and feared we were going to sell some in the US. (A note to all you Canadians heading up for Iditarod - don't pack any beef tripe in your suitcase, it is a highly regulated item - right up their with automatic weapons, it seems). Anyway Mark and I discussed my state of panic and we decided to work on food drops on Sunday and Monday to get that out of the way before looking for somewhere to truck the dogs to run.
If I do say so myself, we had the food drops well planned and organized and everything went very smoothly. On Sunday afternoon we trucked all the bags of meat over to Underdog Feeds, owned by Natalie's son, JP and his wife, and loaded it into their freezer so we were sure everything would be hard frozen before it went to Iditarod on Wednesday. Monday we did up all the kibble, equipment and personally supplies.

Now, with drop bags done, on Tuesday we got to run dogs!!! We trucked 1 1/2 hours up to Petersville Road with Junior Iditarod musher, Lynzie Baachus and her Dad, Ken. It rained for most of the drive up and while we were hooking up, but eventually the rain switched to a wet snow. It was a nice run, though all of us were soaked to the skin by the time we got back to the trucks.

On Wednesday Mark and I trucked all my food drops into Anchorage and turned them over to Iditarod. I send out a whooping 2058 lbs of stuff. I guess most mushers send about 1700 lbs or so, but I always overpack to make sure I can deal with any situation that arises out there. In 2000 I send out over 2100 lbs and in 2001, just over 2000 lbs.

Food drops done, on Thursday we trucked out to Wolverine Lodge on Lake Louise, where we heard the snow was good. Lake Louise is about 160 miles down the Glenn Highway towards Glennallen. It is one of the checkpoints on the Copper Basin Race. Rumors were true - the trails were terrific. We weren't the only mushers to take advantage of them either - Martin Buser, Cim Smyth, Lynda Plettner, and others were already settled in out on the Lake. On Thursday we got a nice 24 mile run in and then on Friday, our planned 50 mile run turned into a 70 mile one (really we weren't lost, just a little misplaced....but that is a story for another day). We headed back to Willow on Friday night, turning the trails back over to the hundreds of snowmachiners that invade the place for the weekend (I must say though, that the snowmachiners in this area are the politest that we've ever run into!!!).

Today we came back out to the lodge and we will stay here until Thursday. Wolverine Lodge offers guest free internet access, so hopefully I can get some more posts in over the next few days. The dogs are living out of the truck while we are here - so I must run so that we can 'drop' them.

Happy trails!

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