Saturday 31 January 2009

Pictures from Don Bower Memorial

Donna Quante took some great photo's of Karen and Mark in the Don Bower Memorial 200 Sled Dog Race. This should hold us over until Karen comes back with all her terrific stories from the race!

Thursday 29 January 2009

Off to the races....

Well, we came scurrying home from Sheep Mountain Lodge a few days ahead of our plan. The reason??? Well we are off to the races!

Race organizations decided that conditions have improved enough for the Don Bowers Memorial Race to be a go this weekend so Mark and I are each racing a team in the 200 mile race.

Since then about another 3 or 4 inches of snow have fallen out here, so I expect that conditions will actually be darn nice for the weekend event.

We have a drivers meeting and bib drawing tonight and then the race starts at noon tomorrow. You can follow it online at

Teams for the weekend will be as follows -

Karen's Team (not in the order they will be hooked up)

and Boom

Mark's Team (also in no particular order)

and Jr

We will have stories and hopefully pictures after the race is over!


Wednesday 28 January 2009

Blessings in Weird Packages

I know that I haven't mentioned it, but WAAAAY back in December I 'tweaked' my knee. I didn't fall, slip or anything. One second I was walking along normally, the next my knee just wasn't working. It kind of felt like it needed to 'snap' back into place, but nothing I did helped it. I tried to get into see a physiotherapist, but with the holiday season, it just wasn't possible. I booked a few massages, but they didn't really work. Much of the time it was just an inconvenience but some of the time it was a real problem.
Some days driving a sled has been agony, some days not too bad, especially with a good number of painkillers on board. Walking up stairs, getting into the dog truck, and climbing into bed at night have been a problem too - but the worst has been the aching when it is tired each night.

Anyway, yesterday's run started out with the leg doing it's thing. I stopped a few times and stretched it out some more (I've been doing my Tai Chi each morning but most mornings that isn't enough) but it just wouldn't get comfortable. I figured in time it would settle down. We zigged and zagged up the first mountain pass with glorious sunshine beating down on us. Hard to feel too sorry for yourself when in such a beautiful place. Then we came to probably the only really treacherous part of Zack's trail - a short stretch of glaciated overflow. It was worse then the last time we crossed it and thanks to Dasher insisting that we go up and over, rather then the more 'sled friendly' down and across I dumped the sled and crashed hard onto the ice. I felt my knee immediately and figured this was not a good thing. I urged the dogs to drag me the rest of the way across the ice and then stopped to upright the sled. Getting up was ...well...EASIER than I expected. Much easier, actually. I was grateful for that. I stretched my leg out and thought it felt pretty good. By now Mark was right behind me and the dogs screaming to go, so off we went. I'd worry about the leg later.

A couple times through out the day I'd think about my leg and tentatively flex it. Where I bumped it hurt, but it seemed to have much better range of motion then that morning. By the end of the run it occurred to me that I hadn't had much pain at all from it during the afternoon. When we stopped on a break I walked around a bit and was shocked to find it working way, way better then it has since December.

Yup, it seems like that smack on the ice acted like a 'trail chiropractor' for me and knocked everything back where it needed to be.

Now the knee is not 100%, but it is brushing up to a whole lot higher percentage of 100% then it was before. I do have a pretty good set of bruises on my shoulder, elbow and knee - but I'm not complaining!

I've said it before and I'll say it again - sometimes blessings come in weird packages!


Tuesday 27 January 2009

More Sheep Mountain

We are back out at Sheep Mountain Lodge. No time for a 'real' post, but I did post some pictures of our run today at

Hope you enjoy!

Sunday 25 January 2009

Just Rolling Along

We are back in Willow for the weekend. As most mornings, I was the first one up in the house. I usually spend that time catching up on emails and other computer orientated things, as it is quiet and doesn't wake anyone else up.

So yesterday morning I was typing away at my computer when I swear the table began to roll. I had gotten a pretty good night sleep, so I shouldn't have been too tired. I blinked and tried to clear my eyes, but the rolling didn't stop. When I realized the dog lots were howling and barking I figured out it was probably a small (very small) earthquake. I looked at the clock and remembered the time. Sure enough on the news last night they spoke of a 6 point something earthquake in Cook Inlet at that time yesterday morning. Cool. Not as cool as the one I experienced a few years back when things actually rattled and shook, but still kinda neat.

Anyway, as I mentioned, we are back from Sheep Mountain Lodge for the weekend. The conditions there were fantastic and our runs thoroughly spectacular. Mark, I and all the dogs had a blast. Many consider the trails out of Zack's lodge to be challenging and 'too hilly' but I think they are about perfect. The only thing that makes me nervous there is launching the team. The trail starts off right next to the highway - and I'm always a worry wart about those sort of things, but never once did our leaders even glance at the Glenn Highway. After a few miles of ditch running, the trail hooks up to an old highway and begins to climb - I actually briefly chased a black wolf on that road on our run on Friday - WAY COOL!. Then the trail turns off into a small mountain pass and the scenery gets more then gorgeous.
I actually took over 200 photos on our runs. Some of my favorites can be seen at -

(I tried to load a few of my favorite images this morning, but 'Blogger' would have none of it. Sorry!).

The cabins at Sheep Mt Lodge ( are lovely and have full kitchenettes in them, so Mark and I had our meals in the cabin and watched a few DVDs between runs and dog drops.

A HUGE thank you to Marlene and Doug Daniels, our dear friends from Montana. While we were putting away dogs after our run on Wednesday Anjanette Steer wandered over to tell us that Marlene had phoned and paid for our cabin for our 3 night stay. What a wonderful and thoughtful surprise!!!! Thanks again Marlene and Doug! We may not have the fastest dog team on the planet - but I undoubtedly have the COOLEST sponsors!!!!!!!

One of the other advantages of our runs at Sheep Mt was that the dogs got to see alot of other dog teams on the trail, as a number of Iditarod mushers were up training in the area. That is a really new experience for the rookies Rocket, Wifi, Wonder, Isis, Flash and Wolvie, and I was very pleased at how well mannered and polite (they are Canadian dogs after all, so I guess I shouldn't be too surprised) they were during our passes.

Actually, I was just pleased with the dogs period. They ran well and came back to the truck on Friday's run frisky and happy, despite having done 3 days of hard runs after a long layoff. It really picked up my spirits and helped me stop fretting about our upcoming races.

A few of them seem to have a bit of a 'bug' now, but I'm not really concerned about it. It is just one of those things that happens when you travel with dogs. They should all be over it in a few days.

We are working on our YQ300 drop bags today. It snowed a few inches here yesterday. Enough to make things not quite so slippery, but still not enough to 'fix' the damage the rain and warm temperatures did, so we will probably be heading back to the Lodge tomorrow.

We had hoped to run the Don Bowers 200 next weekend, but they are not sure if the trails are going to be good enough to pull it off - so we will have to keep checking the website - - and see how it goes!

All for this morning! Don't forget to check out those pictures - I was really pleased with how they turned out!


Monday 19 January 2009

Heading to the Hills

So, as I've mentioned conditions here in Alaska are HORRIBLE. They have not improved even alittle in the last few days.
I liken this to the weather in 2003, which is the year they actually had to move the start of Iditarod to Fairbanks - except this may be worse, as the warm temperatures and rain seem to be more widespread. Reports from Whitehorse, Fairbanks, the Kenai, Lake Louise and even to some extent - home, are poor.
Last night I was awake most of the night tossing, turning and fretting.

I will sleep better tonight though, as it seems we have found snow!!

Zack Steer from Sheep Mountain Lodge (yup, where I was supposed to race back in December) tells me they have had alot of new snow in the past couple days. They are actually working hard to keep the trails in and groomed as additional snow continues to fall.
I wasted no time booking a room for tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday. Then we will head back to Willow for the weekend to give the dogs and our wallet a break - leaving the trails to the snowmachiners for the weekend.

I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders and can't wait to get out on the trails. I've been smiling all afternoon.

Now, of course, renting a cabin for 3 or 4 days a week is a very quick way to burn through money - even with Zack's gracious weekday musher rate -so we are still crossing our figures for some more seasonal Alaska weather VERY soon.

Snow dances are needed!!!


Saturday 17 January 2009

Thanks for all the Jackets

Wow, I am very impressed with the support all of you NorthWapiti fans.

Haha, I thought it would take a couple of weeks to get enough jackets for the team not a couple of days! You are all incredibly generous and I know that Karen and all the NW pals are extremely grateful, as am I.

We have reached our goal for the jackets and again I thank you for your generous donations and support.

I will send you each a confirmation email on the embroidery in the next week.

Thanks again!

Friday 16 January 2009

The Cat is out of the Bag!

Seems my head is alittle foggy from banging it against the wall for the last 48 hours, so when Helen emailed me her post for the Jacket Fundraiser to approve, I didn't even catch the slip up. But she tells me many of you did and have emailed her.

Yes, I had been planning on running alittle contest for folks to figure out which dogs made the trip to Alaska with us this winter - but the names of those 24 dogs all appeared in Helen's Jacket Fundraising Blog (which BTW we REALLY appreciate Helen doing for us!!!).

So, I guess with no adieu left - the 'main string' this year is: Crunchie, Jinx, Sprite, Rocket, Spider, Bingo, Tess, Isis, Wonder, Dasher, Jr, X, Charge, Boom, Q, Flash, Wifi, Barq, Herman, Hector, Watt, Wolvie, Togo and Runner.

That breaks down to 18 veterans (11 of those being Iditarod finishers) and 6 rookies (Wifi, Rocket, Wolvie, Flash, Isis and Wonder).

Of the 24; 9 are girls and 15 are males. There are quite a mixed bag of personalities in this group - from the crazy (Wifi) to the super vocal (Flash) to the strong, silent type (Boom) to the bubbly (Dasher) to the dancing (Rocket) to the snuggly (Wonder) to the focused (Crunchie)... what they all have in common is strength, endurance and drive. I'm am so looking forward to further molding this assortment of quirky personalities into one strong, focused dog team.

If the weather would just cooperate - this is where the real fun begins!!


PS. I'm still experiencing problems sending email from up here, so sorry if I'm not replying to folks private emails. I'm working on it.

Can you hear me screaming....

...........or maybe banging my head on a wall????

Yup, we safely arrived in Willow on Tuesday morning after a fairly harrowing drive. It stormed most of the way and sharing a small highway with fast moving semis in a storm is not a fun thing to do.
We were treated to a lot of wildlife sightings, which always makes the trip alittle more enjoyable - as long as they are off the road, not running onto it or into the truck. The score card of sightings for this drive included moose, elk, caribou, deer, buffalo, 2 wolves and a mystery critter that was probably a fox!

Anyway, we opted to spend one more night on the road this trip and stayed Monday night in Glennallen, which allowed us to arrive in Willow in the daylight, which always makes getting the dogs settled in easier.
It was snowing like crazy when we arrived and the dogs were excited and bounding around in snow banks getting settled in no time.

None of us could wait to get out running the next day!

The next morning I couldn't sleep and puttered around on Jamie's computer (we are having issues with the wireless internet in the house) waiting eagerly for the day to get underway. Then I happened to glance at the outdoor temperature display in the house. It read 34F. No way!!! I opened the door and my stomach hit the floor as I realized it was now raining out.

The only thing that has changed now is that the rain has been heavier and the temperatures warmer. It is actually 48F out right now.

The dogs are bored and annoyed at not being able to run. Running dogs is out of the question. It is too hot, the trails are soaked and being on them at all would just destroy any chance of there being anything left when this weather moves on.

I'm sick about it.

We were already behind on mileage on the dogs when we came up here due to the extreme cold at home in December. We absolutely need to be getting long runs on the dogs right now - but it is just impossible.

The Klondike 300 was supposed to run this weekend but it is on hold. I hear there is up to 8 inches of overflow on the Yentna River.

We'd 'chase' better conditions but that is expensive and besides, I think most everywhere in Alaska, the Yukon, northern BC and Alberta is like this right now.

I'm passed frustrated.

Oh and to top it off any snow left on the ground has turned into sheets of ice, so driving or walking anywhere is more then hazardous. Schools in Anchorage have been closed for the last 3 days due to the ice. The Anchorage buses haven't run in two days either.

This SUCKS!!



This is a cause that I really believe in. The NorthWapiti crew has already donated $75 - which is CLOSE to a dollar per dog. Please don't think this issue doesn't affect all of us - it does. I have no doubt that 'Huskies' will one day - probably sooner rather then later - end up on the banned list.


From - C. Prothro & Barberycoast
If you can help by posting this on any group lists,facebook groups or any other means of campaigning, it would be much appreciated. We need to post this everywhere and often. We need help getting the word around. Thanks for your help.

Dollars for Dogs

ALERT:The constitutional challenge to represent the collective, national interest of responsible dog owners is in dire straits.We are $67,000 short of being able to get our voices heardin Canada 'shighest court, the Supreme Court.

We have been granted an extension to come upwith this amount, but just till the end of January 2009.

On-SCARIO ( AKA Ontario Canada ) has flagrantly wasted taxpayers dollars to act as Goliath against our David ( Banned Aid Coalition ) toban any "substantially similar" dogs to the banned pure bred dogs,American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American PitBull Terriers.

Over 4000 dogs dead, yes even puppies¢ folks.In essence, the Ontario governmenthas taken over our Pedigree Act and has decided what breeds and mixes thereofwill live, drive through or visit within its boundaries.It simply doesn't matter whether you like the bully dogs.It is now a matter of sending a message to government we are no longer willingto allow politicians to sacrifice the lives of innocent dogs.


PAY PAL. Please go to and click on the "Donate!" link for the Pay Pal tool.You can also make an online payment from your financial institution' s website by sending a bill payment to

Send cheques or money orders directly to Mr.Ruby at the following address,
Ruby & Shiller
11 Prince Arthur Ave.
Toronto, Ont.
M5R1B2416 964 9664

On behalf of the BANNED AID COALITION--- -- THANK YOU!

Thursday 15 January 2009

Jacket Fundraiser

As Karen was just about to leave for Canada we were having a quick chat on the phone when she informed me that she needed new jackets, for the dogs that were racing, and what about helping out with a jacket fund raiser. Now we all know it has been a tough winter for Karen and the dogs and new jackets might just be the ticket to helping them all feel better about the weather!

So here's what we thought would be fun!

We are asking you to buy a new jacket for the team. Now this will not be just any jacket but an insulated fleece and nylon jacket that will keep all of the dogs toasty warm. Also we will embroider on each jacket "I'm warm thanks to ........." and include your name or whatever name you would like.

These jackets will be used over and over for years to come so this is really an investment in the team and for the many races in the future. They will be differentiated by size only and the dogs will all share the jackets too!

Each jacket is $30 which includes the embroidering and of course shipping to Alaska!

We need to get the jackets ordered quickly and all the information for the embroidery so I would ask you to act quickly and order a jacket now. The Quest 300 begins on February 14 and we need time to get the jackets made and embroidered, oh and then shipped to Karen in Alaska!

I will be handing all the payments and will be using my paypal account, so if you go to, click on the send money tab, next put in my email address and then put in the amount of $30 US (of course if you want to buy more than one jacket just do the math!!). In the next page where there is the comments page please put in the name you want to have embroidered on the jacket. If you would like to send a check for a jacket please mail it to Helen Thorgalsen, 143 S Gunflint Lake, Grand Marais, MN 55604 but please be sure to email me as well so I know the check is coming and have all the information.

Lets get all the jackets ordered by January 26 so there is plenty of time for embroidering them and shipping them to Alaska!

Karen, Mark and Crunchie, X, Jr, Boom, Q, Togo, Herman, Wifi, Hector, Tess, Wolvie, Charge, Flash, Watt, Runner, Barq, Sprite, Wonder, Bingo, Rocket, Spider, Isis, Dasher and Jinx thank you!

Friday 9 January 2009

Something to Hold Close...

I love Alaska dearly and have been chomping at the bit to get up there for over a month now, but more then that I love my home and know I will miss it and all my family members that are staying behind starting the very moment we drive out the driveway.

This morning I was presented with a memory of the yard to hold close to my heart until I'm back home.


Tuesday 6 January 2009

So Much for That....

Well, so much for that 'break' in the weather. Temperatures today were sitting right around -25C when I left on my run and down to -28 by the time I got back in. BRRRR....but it was awful pretty while the sun was out. Helped keep my mind off the fact that my knees were solid blocks of ice.

Since I'm sure you are all sick of 'dog butts' - here are some 'non dog butts' pictures that I squeaked in before the camera froze.

Looking back at our 'out trail'. Pretty, isn't it?

I love the stark look of bare trees against the snow and blue sky

Do I look cold?? I am!!!!

I've been meaning to take a photo of this truck for awhile. I love the colors!
Okay, in case you wanted to see the 'dog butts', check them out at

A Break in the Weather

After weeks and weeks of brutal weather, things broke alittle yesterday and I scurried out and got in a nice 45 mile run with the team.

That's Herman and Hector in wheel. Notice that Hector is shedding like crazy.

We were treated to another nice sunset on the way home.


Sunday 4 January 2009

How To Post a Blog Comment

Brought to you by: Kara!

Hello Musher friends. I heard that some of you were confused about how to post a comment on the Musher's blog, so I'm here to help.

The first thing you do is send me a box of dentastix... ok, you don't have to do that, but you will need to read the blog post, then at the very end of the post, you will see the words "Posted by (and whoever posted it) the time, and next to that 0 Comments (it may actually be a number, depending on if there are comments that have already been posted). Click on "Comments"

Clicking on "Comments" will take you to the "Comments" screen (how handy!).

Under "Leave your comment" you'll click in that box and type whatever you want (be NICE!).
If you have a Google/Blogger ID, click in that circle and it'll ask you who you are. If you have an OpenID or Name/URL, click those. Don't know what those are? Don't click them, you can click Anonymous and then leave your name in the comment so we know who you are.

Then, you simply click the "Publish your comment" button. You can also preview it if you want, but be brave... just click, honestly, if you don't like it, you can actually delete it once its posted.

Once you click "Publish your comment" your comment will automatically show up on the comment page! Amazing! To get back to the blog, you can click on the "show original post" or hit the back button a few times, whatever you prefer.

Now, do you remember how I said you can delete a comment? Notice how (as an example) I wrote Kira instead of Kara? See the little trash can underneath the date in my comment. Click that and that will delete your comment.

See, now wasn't that easy? Ok, so send a box of Dentastix to me, quick! I'm not getting my daily allowance of Dentastix from the Musher so I need to hide my own stash.


Saturday 3 January 2009


That is it. I am entirely sick of the lies and broken promises. Every week changes are promised and every week it's the same garbage over and over. I'm done. The trust is gone. There is no rebuilding it. I just have to move forward. I am through with weather forecasters.

For the past about month we have been in the middle of a nasty deep freeze. I don't ever remember it being so cold for so long. Our nighttime lows are consistantly in the -30's, with many mornings, like this morning below -40. It has only been the odd day in the past 3 weeks to a month where daytime highs here in the valley have cracked -25.
Really good stuff for breaking the cycle of West Nile virus, Pine Beetles and the likes, not bad stuff for people who work in offices and only have to travel from their car to warm buildings, but really sucky for those of us that work outside for hour upon hour. Really sucky.
Every day I've been checking the weather forecast and I swear it has said the same thing for the last month - cold for the next two days and then warming to above normal temperatures, but the warming never comes - never. It's always 2 days away from happening.

I'm sick of these empty promises. I'm done believing. I'm done checking forecasts. I'm so sick of it all!!!!!



Friday 2 January 2009

Seeing Eye to Eye

Ah, there is nothing like seeing 'eye to eye' with one's dogs - however, when it is LITERALLY and the dog is a 3 month old pup - maybe it isn't quite so good.

That's Grimmy hanging near the top of the 6 foot fence. She has been my favorite in the litter almost since birth.

Now the deal is that no one gets fed until all puppy paws are on the ground, so we are hoping that Grimmy eventually figures out that the fastest way to get fed is to NOT climb.

I guess I shouldn't mind too much - previous fence climbers in the yard included Sprite, Spider and Rocket. If Grimmy is aiming to follow in their pawprints, I'm very cool with that.

Siberians USA People's Choice Awards

Thought some of you might like to check out the winners of the Siberians USA People’s choice awards.
Specifically, you might want to check out the “International Breeder of the Year” and “International Siberian Husky of the Year”.


We are very honored!