Tuesday, 5 February 2008

February 5, 2008 Never A Dull Moment!

Never a dull moment!!!

So Mark and I headed out to do a nice long run today. We shot out of the yard, up over the big hill, onto the power line, across Windy Lake, over to Lost Lady Lake, the Toilet Seat trail over to the Little Swamp Loop, and headed back across Windy Lake on our way to Romano Lake, Deception Swamp, Ruth Lake, and Steven's Lake.

There was 'Y' in the trail and once I took the right hand branch, I stopped to make sure Mark saw where I was headed.

I knew he was a bit back, so I took the opportunity to go up and play with my leaders, Watt and Q. I was working my way back through the team when Mark pulled in behind me. I was just about to step on my runners again when I saw a team closing fast behind him.

I watched it for a second and then realized there was no musher with the team. I started yelling and gesturing at Mark to get him to look behind him, but he was fiddling with his hood and didn't hear me right off. Finally, at the last second he got my drift and turned around. The team veered onto the side of the 'Y' we weren't on, but Mark made a heroic leap and managed to grab onto the sled as it whipped by. He got everyone stopped and got the hook set well enough that he could go up front and untangle a tangled dog and undo everyone's tuglines. He was on his own with this, as I was stuck on the other trail babysitting our 2 teams.

We waited a few minutes hoping a musher would come running down the trail behind them, but that didn't happen. We were in a swamp, so there was no trees to tie the wayward team to. We were either going to have to sit tight until the musher showed up, or recruit some help.
We were fairly certain the team belonged to one of Vern Halter's handlers, as there was a bag in the sled bag with his name on it, so I pulled out the cell phone I always carry for just such a situation and dialed 411. The conversation went like this -

"State and City you need a number for"

"Willow, Alaska"

"Name of the party you are trying to reach"

"Dream A Dream Dog Farm"

Now, you must realize, as I'm talking the musher-less team and our two teams - over 30 dogs altogether - are barking, screaming and howling to the point that it is hard for me to hear the operator - and likewise for him, I'm sure.

"Sounds like you already have a bunch of dogs there"

"Actually, more then I know what to do with." I paused, "You might not believe this, but I'm standing in the middle of a swamp in the middle of Alaska on the back of a dog sled. We just found a driver-less team and I'm trying to track down the owner."

Dead silence. Then he said, "Well, you did say Alaska - so I guess that is believable".

Unfortunately, Halter's number kept coming up busy. So I phoned Jamie at work, told her what the problem was and where we were, knowing she would track down help for us.

In the meantime, another dog team showed up, not much they could do though. We all just waited together with over 40 barking dogs now.

Soon two of Vern's handlers, the one that had lost the team and another, showed up on a snowmachine - VERY grateful to see the dog team with all the dogs safe and sound. Moments later, another neighbor, this one the one Jamie had tracked down showed up.

Everyone got straightened out and everyone headed off down the trail.

But I bet that 411 operator is still shaking his head.


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