Friday, 31 January 2014

And You Thought The Border Collie Was Taking Her Time Blogging!!!

I just checked and it has been THREE weeks since I blogged!!! How bad is that? Not like nothing has been happening! Too much has been happening, in fact!!!
So last reported I was sitting around the kennel in Perryvale watching Bait teach young KD all about the joys of the bathroom.
Since then we have packed up Bet, 23 Curly Tails, Sophie from Australia and myself, and headed up to Alaska.

A tire blew up on the truck around Tok, winter fled from Alaska, I lost a dog team, my computer blew up, we had to head further north in search of trails,  my dog truck tried to run me over, a herd of caribou tried to kill me, the thermostat on the dog truck cratered.....did I miss anything???

No, I think that about covers it. Watch for the next update in February. Thanks for reading!!

Yeah, figured I wasn't getting away with that. 

So yes, first on the list was the explosion of one of the dually tires on the dog truck about 50 miles south of Tok, Alaska. Big, big thanks to the very nice trucker from Lynden Transport and the folks at NorthWay Junction who helped me figure out a strategy to safely get 24 dogs, 2 people and a mound of gear safely to Tok. Sophie can tell you how fun it was to drive at 20mph the 50 miles. Wheeeeeeee.....

Once in Tok we holed up at Fast Eddie's. Awesome place to be stranded. The next morning Willard of Willard's Repairs slid under the truck, announced we needed not 1 but 2 new tires, and set about finding them for us. Five hours and $1000 later we were back on the road.

Late that night we arrived at 'NorthWapiti North' which is at WestRunner Kennels with my dear friends Jamie, Harry, Kip, Ashleigh, Toby, Nick, Romeo and a bunch of sled dogs!!!

During our drive north the conditions in Alaska dramatically changed from good to MISERABLE. Warm temperatures and rain quickly destroyed the trails.

The day after we arrived I took a 7-dog team out to check the trails and lost them while launching. No good story or excuse, I just wasn't giving the team the attention I should have.
Thankfully I recovered them about a 1/4 mile down the trail after the snow hooks caught and held (for the record, that is exactly why I don't secure my hooks to my sled. I've seen all too many sleds careening down a trail with snow hooks tucked nicely in holders over the years.)

I had an okay run after recovering the team, but the trails here were not suitable for training an Iditarod team, in my opinion and a few more days of rain and warmth made them even worse. I began chatting with other mushers and looking for something to train on.

That search eventually led me to the Denali Highway near Cantwell. I've heard talk of the Highway for years, but never been up. Trail conditions are less then ideal, but certainly 'doable' and the dogs and I have enjoyed a number of runs up there in the past week.

There is one 'dicey', at least for me, spot on the trail, and that is a 'humped' over stretch of overflow/ice a mile or so from where the dog trucks park.  To make things worse it is at the bottom of a long hill in both directions and has a bridge in the middle of it. Coming home one day, the dogs were flying along jazzed by sighting a moose and then a small herd of caribou near the top of the downhill section. I was on my brake for everything I was worth to keep things under control when we all spotted a herd of caribou standing on the worst of the icy section.
Caribou panic well when faced with danger but they seem incapable of coming to decisions that would get them out of such situations.
The next few minutes were chaotic. Musher, dogs, sled and caribou all came out of it fine. I'm still really not sure how. It was a WILD RIDE!!!

One of the nights I drove back from Cantwell, I parked the dog truck near the entrance path to my dog lot and began unloading dogs. Scud 'bambied' on the ice when he got out and I moved him behind the truck into the light to check him over. As I was doing that I noticed movement. The dog truck, which was in park, was sliding on the ice towards us. I leapt over the snowbank I was next to, dragging Scud with me a split second before the truck crashed into the bank. Thankfully, no harm was done to the truck but that sure woke me up after a long day!!

It does require a lot of driving and is also a lot of work to manage and maintain 23 dogs alone on the road, but I'm making it work - or at least was until day before yesterday when the engine on the dog truck 'went cold' on the way home. Luckily, we all made it back to Willow and yesterday morning got the dog truck into a diesel repair shop in Wasilla. Looks like an antifreeze hose sprung a significant leak. Part being in stock, I should have the truck back later today!!! My fingers are crossed!!!

And now I think you are all really up to date!!!


Ricki said...

It's all one grand adventure! <3

Anonymous said...

I looks like the fun and adventure never ends..weeee

thecrazysheeplady said...

Holy. Moly.

Shirly said...

I sure wish you had some help and hope no more things happen. You know I never had help and I just sprint raced, so all 25 dogs and if there was any pups to the race but usually only 8 raced. I had my first husband who usually did nothing but once in a while drove. He thought it was social time the whole weekend. But I got used to it and still had a good time. But would of liked more time off than working from Friday till Sunday night and then up in the dark taking care of dogs and working a 10 hour shift. You know Karen you find out you can do things you thought you couldn,t. Hoping someone turns up to help you. Thinking of you every day and hoping for good things from now on.

Anonymous said...

Of all the years for me to be in school! :( :( I'd volunteer to help you in a heartbeat and guard the truck whole you train the PCTs. Gary says thanks for the shout out to Lynden Transport, 1/2 of Nana/Lynden. I think you have had more than your share of excitement this year. Sure hope things settle down now!


Anonymous said...

Wow girl, That is enough "stuff" for this year.
Praying for all smooth trails for the rest of your Iditarod.