Thursday, 5 January 2006

January 5, 2006 Good Times!

The other morning I was looking for a quote to use for something I was writing and came across this neat little webpage of quotes - They had a ‘Quote of the Day’ service that I signed up for too. The other morning’s quote is one I have heard before and love -
“Not all who wander are lost” – J.R.R. Tolkien

We have indeed been wandering around the state of Alaska of late – and only very rarely have we been lost!

Trails are very inconsistent this year, being great in some locations and pitiful just a few miles down the road.

The trails behind Jamie’s don’t quite rank as ‘pitiful’ yet, but they sure aren’t the greatest in the state. Mark (yes, Mark is arrived on Monday night) and I did a slippery, wild 20 miles with 8-dog teams out of the yard on Tuesday.

Myself, Jamie and her neighbors – Paul and Erin McClaren did a nice 32-mile run out on the Willow Swamp and Big Su River on New Year’s Day and the trails were great.

It was very fun to travel with Paul again – we previously traveled together on my first race in Alaska, the ’99 Knik 200 (that coincidently is the same race I meet Doug Grilliot on – who I train and hang out with a lot in Alaska).

Anyway, that was such a good run that Mark and I headed over there yesterday and put a great 43 mile run on everyone. Although I’m a little behind where I want to be in training when you look at the numbers, when you look at the team – I’m pretty much exactly where I want to be. I’ve been grinning a lot after runs lately.

Although I have yet to pull a camera out on this trip, I have been capturing many mental snapshots that will last a lifetime (most of the images that really strike me would take a lot of time and good gear to get to reproduce like they look through my eyes anyway – or so I keep telling myself, so I don’t feel bad about not having a camera along).

Yesterday’s run scored big in that area – the ghostly blue image of Denali, with soft clouds hugging it in the fading daylight yesterday was simply surreal.

I looked over my shoulder once to see how Mark and his team had negotiated a trail around an open lead on the river and was treated to a spectacular image of he and his team bathed in late day sun with steam from the water (it was very cold on the river yesterday) drifting up in front of them.

The one image I don’t care to keep (but will) was little Kara hot on the heels of a big moose. The moose’s hackles were all up and I was amazed that Kara’s only reaction to the beast was excitement – ‘cause mine was fear. After the moose had thundered off the trail and we were safely passed it, I stopped and had a heart to heart with my favorite little A team leader – pointing out that she weighs a mere 35lbs to the moose’s 1200 + and that she didn’t even come up to the thing’s hock. She cared not a whit. The fearlessness of these dogs never ceases to inspire me.

Denali has also shrugged out of it’s cloud cover long enough to give me a few more snapshots. The day Jamie West and I ran behind Bob Chlupach’s was cloudy, but enough light snuck out at the start of the run to bathe the remarkable mountain in warm, rich colors – making it stand out for more reasons then just it’s size.

Later in the run, I looked over my shoulder for Jamie’s team as we were out in a big swamp – her dogs strongly picked their way through a broad expanse of white, with Denali as the most amazing backdrop. Jamie’s wonderful purple parka added the perfect punch of color to the scene. So beautiful!

So, any of you feeling sorry for us on this ‘bad snow’ year can put your minds at ease – we are finding trails, building a strong team, and adding many memories to the ‘bank’.

Good times!

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