Sunday 30 January 2000

January 30, 2000

Well, definitely the brightest point of my week was that Mark arrived safe and sound from Alberta. The dogs were about as excited as I was to see him - they went nuts when he stepped out into the yard! Especially Sissy, Spud, and Butchie - they are his favorites and they know it!

He brought up with him around 2000lbs of fish, beef, horsemeat, and turkey skins that will be used on the Iditarod. Monday will start packaging up my food drop bags in order to have everything ready for the February 18th due date. Food drops are definitely one of the biggest tasks in preparing for the Race!
We have our appointment scheduled for February 23 to get pre race blood work done on the dogs. This is just one of the many health checks that the dogs go through in order to make sure that they are in great health for Iditarod. I had some blood work done earlier this year, so we will be able to use that as a 'baseline' to judge these results. Along the same line and on the advice of Iditarod Head Vet Tech, Lynette - I have checked and recorded the resting pulse rate of all the dogs. Lynette says that knowing this and keeping track of recovery rates during the race is one of the best ways to monitor your dogs! Great advice!!

Training has been slow this week. The weather has been warm, windy and snowy. That means that every time we have gone out on the trails there has been heavy, snowblown trail to break. It's tiring and hard work, but I keep reminding myself what good experience this will be for the Coast segment of Iditarod. I'm delighted with how well the dogs are handling the task. It is absolutely amazing how the dogs will find the trail under the snow when all traces of it are blown away. The odd occasion that I decide the dogs are wrong about where the trail was we end up flaying around in waist deep snow. I'm learning to keep my mouth shut and trust my leaders! :) I bought myself a new pair of snowshoes yesterday, so today, between running 2 teams, I'm going get out there are do some snowshoeing to get comfortable with them. I'm sick of crashing through the snow!

Right now I'm off to make breakfast and get on with the day!

Saturday 22 January 2000

January 22, 2000

Back from the wilds of Alaska!!!!

I finished the Klondike at 3:55AM on Tuesday morning in 17th position. We accomplished pretty much what I had hoped and had a great time doing it!!! I wasn't interested in finishing high in the standings, but rather, getting some race experience on the young dogs and proving out some others. I did have to 'drop' Doc at the last checkpoint - I think he stepped in a moose hole (deep holes punched in the packed trail as 1500+lbs of moose walk down them) and strained a muscle. Everyone else was terrific. Grover was absolutely the star - leading every single step of the way. Amazing for his first race.(I should mention that all Grover's testing last Friday came out fine and the vets had cleared him to run the Race) All the dogs seemed to have a really good time.

Almost all of our running was done at night. With the bright moon and snow - it made for some really magical memories. The companionship of my dogs at those moments is a treat beyond compare.
So now it is back to training and Iditarod preparations. The weather is less then Alaskan right now - it is right around 0C, as I type, and raining! I ran dogs yesterday, but may take the day off today if wet, soft trails don't improve. It is not like I can't find things around here to keep me busy - in fact, my 'To Do' list is beginning to overwhelm me. We have asked Bob to hang around an extra few weeks to help us get the food drops done - that will be a big help. Maureen's house is going to start bursting at the seams with all the people staying here! Right now Bob and Josh are standing at the window, laughing hysterically at the antics of the dogs and the Ravens out in the yard!

Well, I'm off to check out the weather and get on with my day!

Friday 14 January 2000

January 14, 2000

I should know better then to say that I was going to have plenty of time to post diary entries - that was a sure fire way to make sure I was going stay busy :)

Tomorrow is the start of the Klondike 300 Race, which I have decided to run. It will be good experience for some of the younger dogs, like Chester, Orion, Draco, Grover, Smiley and Gus. Camilla will not be going with us. She is in heat and the risk that she will cause problems with my younger 'testosterone charged' males is too great! I'm sure most of us remember what it is like to try and concentrate with hormones 'a'raging'. Grover is actually at the vet in Big Lake this morning. He, and the rest of the dogs, passed their vet check yesterday with flying colors, but I was aware that some vets at previous races had sometimes heard something a little off in Grover's heartbeat. I have great respect for Dr. Jim Leach, who is head vet for this race, so I asked his opinion on it. It was of concern to him, and therefore to me, so Grover is getting an ultrasound done on his heart this morning. I'm very hopeful that all will be proven well and that Grover will be joining us on our run this weekend.

I'm running 12 dogs for the Klondike: Orion, Draco, Chester, Gus, Smiley, Grover, Hawk, Striker, Sundance, Doc, Buddy and Spud. Icey has been vet checked in and will step in if Grover is not up to racing. The team was chosen based on who needs the experience, rather then picking my strongest dogs. My goals for this weekend are to finish with all 12 still in harness, so we will be taking our time along the trail. I will make sure to post to the diary as soon as I get back, hopefully sometime on Tuesday.
Things at Maureen's have been going very well. We have been getting lots of good training runs and have been in awe of the beautiful trails that we have discovered. Bob and I had a bad scare last Sunday, the dogs stormed through a difficult section of trail sending both of us crashing into the the snow. The sheer power of the team was too much to hang onto and they got away from us. Luckily, a wonderfully designed snow hook (the 'rollover hook' designed by Rusty Hagen and sold by Cold Spot Feeds in Alaska) did it's job and caught in the snow, holding the team until we could catch up 1/2 mile down the trail. All the dogs were fine. I have a few scrapes and bruises and Bob did some damage to his shoulder, but nothing too terribly serious.

We are really enjoying the company of our Aussie housemates, Neen and her son, Josh. Josh and Bob spend a great deal of time bantering with each other, basically keeping the rest of us doubled over in laughter at their antics! We are teaching them a fair bit of Canadian slang and sayings (eh!) and they are reciprocating (mate!). Neen also is running Klondike this weekend.

Well, I think that is the news and gossip for today. We have a bunch of last minute chores and packing to do today before the Race start tomorrow! I should also mention that there are some of the big names of mushing in the Race - mushing legends Charlie Boulding and Martin Buser, as well as Lynda Plettner, Wayne Curtis, and Mike Nosko. It certainly is a treat to share the trail with so many mushers that I admire.

Thursday 6 January 2000

January 6, 2000

Greetings from Alaska!! Bob, the dogs, and I arrived safely at Maureen's place in Willow at around 11pm yesterday. The household: Maureen, Aussie Iditarod musher Neen Brown and her son, Josh, were all kind enough to wait up for us. We fed and watered our critters and then gabbed until well past 1am! It's nice to be back up here!

The trip up was certainly an adventure. The roads were one giant skating rink, there were semis and cars in the ditch, as well as many tracks in the snow where others had gone in. The truck handled very well and with 1000 + lbs of dogs and an equal amount of humans and gear we certainly had lots of weight to help keep us on track. We did see a large variety of wildlife on the way up - the standard: deer, coyotes, and moose, as well as buffalo, caribou, a fox, and even got a nice good look at a lynx. That was very cool! We were also welcomed to the Yukon by a fabulous display of Northern Lights! Just beautiful!
The next few days will be busy ones. We need to get the dogs settled out in the yard, us settled in the house, the sleds geared up and, most important (and fun!) the dogs out on the trails. The snow conditions look great. Maureen says that there is still some overflow in some areas, but that will be good experience for the dogs and I will go, specifically, looking for some of those spots. I just can't wait to get out to Stevens Lake, Windy Lake and some of the other beautiful spots out on the trails.

I'm still planning on running the Klondike next weekend. It looks like that will be a pretty busy race too, many Iditarod rookies are using that as one of their qualifiers this year. That includes Neen and our Alaska neighbor, Blake Freking. Speaking of Blake, he is running Earl and Natalie Norris' Anadyr team this year, he did his first Iditarod qualifier last weekend, the Knik 200, and finished 7th!! What a great results. My congratulations to him! Those of you interested in finding out more about Blake and his awesome Siberian team can check out his website at

Well, the dogs spent the night sleeping on the truck. They are going to want to get out and get breakfast pretty quick! I will probably be getting a chance to keep the diary pretty updated for the next while. I'll try to do around 2 a week for the next few weeks!