Sunday, 9 November 2003

November 9, 2003

Minnesota Training - Button Box

Time seems to often pass by so incredibly quickly that I am often only aware of the fact that it is passing and not how much and how quickly it is. Maybe that is a good thing.. I do know that many of the bruises and scrapes that seem to be evitable on my journeys to Jamie's are dulling and healing - a sure sign that I've been here awhile. 

It is almost a month since my arrival in Minnesota and my last diary entry. On Thursday I will pack up and head home, via Winnipeg and the Canadian National Siberian Husky Specialty though!
So, so much as happened in the month here (which is probably why I haven't found time to update my diary entries!) that I am sure I will miss some of the stories. I promise to share in later diary entries any of the really good tales I miss this time! 

As many of you know from my previous forays to Togo, the visit is punctuated by several big events - most notably Button Box, the Suomi Hills Run and the Big Dog Bash. 

As per usual, the first of these is Jamie's invitational camping trip most fondly known as Button Box (due to it's location at the Button Box campground on Button Box Lake). I think we forgot to do the formal count this year, but traditionally the event sees over 50 mushers and 300 dogs invading the Campground and this year was no exception. 

The unique format of Button Box makes it suitable for all levels of teams. Teams can either join Jamie for a 20 mile run, an overnight camp and another 24 miles to the Campground; run with another group the 11 mile direct route to the campground or just drive their trucks over and do shorter runs right from the Lake. 

Something like 12 teams, myself included, did the overnight trip. The weather was wonderful and an enjoyable evening around the campfire with a lot of old friends and some new ones followed a fun 20-mile run! 

I was most disappointed that Ward Wallin hadn't joined us on this trip (his lovely and infinitely more charming wife, Colleen was representing 'Team Wallin' this year. That definitely eased my disappointment.). Last year over a similar campfire Ward and I challenged each other to memorize Robert Service's "The Cremation of Sam McGee". I spend the last year reciting "There are strange things done 'neath the Midnight Sun." to the kennel and was ready to challenge Ward to a 'recite off'. But alas, he didn't show. Rumor has it he had done his homework anyway. Next year Ward!! I'm even now working on 'The Shooting of Dan McGrew'. 

My team was reasonable quiet overnight for what was, for many of them, their first camping trip - so I was surprised and a little annoyed come morning to find 2 harnesses, a neckline, and a gangline section thoroughly chomped. Luckily, I was prepared and had spares of everything along with me. Hilda was definitely in my bad books for the morning though. 

The dogs had another strong run down to Button Box and we were able to do a lot of passing and weaving in and out of other teams! This is a great confidence builder for the team and one of the big reasons I like bringing them out to Minnesota. 

After gorging ourselves on deep fried turkeys everyone hooked up dogs and headed out for an evening run. Jamie and I started out with the group, but quickly broke off and headed the 11 miles back to her place to do chores and get a few hours sleep before heading back early in the morning. This works out well for us, as we can swap out dogs, so all the main crew gets to come along for at least part of the adventure. 

The next morning as we were heading back out I ran into a bunch of Button Boxers heading out for a morning run. After many queries of "Do you know the 8-mile loop?" I swung my team down the trail to head out with them. By the time we were back at the campground, we had done a nice tidy little 20 mile run. 

Saturday afternoon's culinary delight was a incredible seasoned roasted lamb from musher, Art Gloor. Rather incredible - and I'm not even much of a lamb fan. 

A Saturday night run and a Sunday run back to Jamie's rounded up the weekend.

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Next...the Suomi Hills run!

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