Wednesday 31 March 2010

Bucket Day

Temperatures have been quite warm. Last night it didn't even freeze - and more of the same is predicted so, today was Bucket Day!!!

The dogs could barely contain their excitement...

...okay, maybe they could - but we are excited because it cuts feeding time in half.

There are rules to remember from last year though....

Q has to have a metal bucket, as he beats up plastic ones.

Crunchie has to have a bigger bucket, as Cricket and Kara often steal drinks from it.

Pink is for girls!

And already chewed buckets go to the youngsters!!!

Plants may not be blooming yet, but at least there is color back in the yard!!

Tuesday 30 March 2010

I, Bet....

I'm of the opinion that Bet is pretty happy living here.

She's fed well, plays hard, has great sleeping arrangements and is very loved - but she has always enjoyed heading over to Lisa's for a little 'border collie face time'. Dogs seem to 'know their kind' and in my experience, always enjoy spending time with their own breed.

Today I was heading over to Lisa's for coffee and she extended the invitation to Bet.

For the first time, Bet didn't seem to related to Lisa's Border Collies. In fact, she could have cared less. Eventually Lisa's pack ended up outside and Bet snoozed on the their dog bed soaking up the warmth of a sun beam.

On the way home Bet mentioned that she would like to renounce her 'Border Collie Citizenship'. "Are you sure?", I asked. She nodded her big Border collie ears and emphatically stated that she was putting all that in the past.

I hope she knows what she is doing - but somehow I think she does.

Sunday 28 March 2010

No Doubt I'm A 'Winter Chick' But..

Make no mistake, I'm a 'Winter Chick'. I love winter. It is 'the season of the sled dog' but more then that I love trees heavy with hoarfrost, blankets of untouched snow covered fields, snowflakes, icicles, the crunch of snow underfoot,polar fleece,winter trails, woodstoves... heck I even love it when it's so cold your nose hairs freeze together when you inhale. I'm a dyed in the wool 'Winter Chick'. Now that we are starting to leave the season behind, I can't help but mourn it's passing.

All day today the skies seemed to be thinking of drizzling rain on us, but just before we started to feed the clouds drifted off exposing a beautiful blue sky. When we finished feeding the kennel it was still daylight (unlike a few months ago when it was dark by 4:30pm), so I gathered my 'chicks' (Kara, Bet and Cricket) and headed down the driveway on a short walk. Bait and Tic joined in, of course. Thanks to the the great job of plowing (funny how that is a chore that never gets overlooked now that we have that fancy tractor) the guys have done all winter the driveway is already pretty dry.
We are still a long way from trees budding or flowers stirring, but deer and moose tracks littered the ground. Things are stirring.
Bait and Bet roared up and down the road chasing each other (yes, Bait chases Bet as much as Bet chases Bait - maybe more). Kara and Cricket explored the remnants of snow drifts and checked out game trails. Tic trotted cautiously behind us all.

When I got to the 'Turn Around Here' sign I stopped and raised my face to the west. A warm wind touched my skin. The sunset reflected onto a few scattered clouds tinging them with hues of pink and orange. To the east the last of the cloud bank floated by.

Yeah, I love winter, but it is sure hard not to be touched by the promise of spring.

The 'Winter Chick'

Friday 26 March 2010


The Mission: Scoping out the Iron Horse Trail

The Team: Dasher, Jinx, Billie, Runner, Bingo, Wonder, Q, Barq, Hector, Wolvie, Shooter, Junior, Roscoe, Wifi, Karen, Mark, Richard and Bet

The Equipment:
an ATV (sadly)

0600 hours: Richard souped the 14 dogs selected for the mission
0730 hours: Dogs and gear loaded into the dog truck
0830 hours: Departed NorthWapiti
0945 hours: Arrived Smokey Lake

Richard prepares...

...Bet makes sure everything is going to plan.

Bet watches for any 'problems'

The mission launches.

A few of 'the locals' watch suspiciously.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED declares Bet from mission headquarters!

"Was there ever any doubt?", asks Q

A new trail added to the 'playbook'!!!

More pictures can be seen here

Wednesday 24 March 2010

All Ya Gotta Do Is Act Naturally...

Today was THE day for Snap, Crackle and Pop!!! They have spent their whole little lives watching and waiting for the moment!!! Yup - harness breaking day!!!

How did they do???

Well, the fact that they look so much like little pros in this shot that I'd have to tell you where they are for you to find them says it all!!!

They rocked!!!

Pop is 3rd up on the left, Crackle 5 up, Snap 6 up on the right.

Dad Crunchie watched intently but says there really never was any doubt.

Crackle eating snow on a break!

Snap getting some loving from Richard for a job well done!

The very handsome Pop!!

Awesome puppies!!!

After 2 1/2 miles we dropped the little superstars off in the yard and took the rest out for another 5 miles.

The still frozen Tawatinaw River

Good stuff!

Images from Around the Kennel

Richard taking Moses, Olena, Xena, Beauty, Newt and Loki on a run!

Pop doesn't like getting his picture taken!

TopDog showing off his shiny choppers!


Crackle and Snap


Jinx enjoying some down time!

Running dogs on Monday


Running dogs Tuesday

Isis (Yes, Isis is back here at NorthWapiti!)


Tuesday 23 March 2010

The Latest on the Hand

Saw my doc yesterday (BTW - I love my doctor. She is a tiny woman that weighs maybe 90lbs, but she is fierce some!!!I am tremendously scared of her and that is how she gets me to get all sorts of testing and exams done - and one of the key reasons I decided it was time to ditch my needle phobia). She feels that opening up my hand at this time would be too risky. Too high a chance of damaging a tendon and permanently loosing movement in my middle fingers.
I've finished my latest course of antibiotics (this is the 4th one I've been on since the injury) and she wants to wait and see what happens in the next 10 days. If there is 'junk' left in the hand, it will abscess and then it will be safer (due to thinner skin and a larger 'bump') to drain it and clean it out.
If the lump is just scar tissue,which is the best case scenario, it will slowly start to decrease in size.

The biggest risk right now is infection. Because I have been on such a cornucopia of antibiotics in the last month if I get an infection now, I will need to be treated on IV antibiotics. "You are done racing for the season - right?" she asked. Her sharp eyes made it clear there was only one answer to that question.

Thankfully, I am 'allowed' to run dogs and do my 'normal' stuff - which is good, because I was running dogs with Richard yesterday (on the ATV).

So that is the scoop on the hand! If it starts to abscess, I'll be sure to provide pictures (I know, something to look forward to!!!)


Sunday 21 March 2010


As we passed the 'Turn Around Here' sign on our driveway the noise started in the back of the dog truck. First one voice, then a few more... by the time we pulled to a stop in the yard, 23 voices screaming and 23 dogs pounding on the doors to their dog boxes.

Cricket was there to greet me as I opened the door to the truck. Richard soon followed. Bet, Kara, X and the cats awaited us in the house. After a few minutes of joyful, noisy greetings, we got to work settling critters back in the yard.

They roared around at top speed on their nice long chains, checked out their dog houses and chattered away at the 'B' team.

It was a very noisy, but sweet homecoming!!!

A bit of unloading the truck, a bottle of wine and then it was off to my wonderful Sealy Posturpedic mattress where I drifted off to sleep with 'Bet toes' mashed into my face.

Life is good!!!

Friday 19 March 2010

Buffalo Camp

While in Rohn Wattie MecDonald asked me if there was a good spot between Rohn and Nikolai to camp on the trai. "Buffalo Camp" was my instant reply!
"Buffalo Camp" is just that, a camp that the Runkle family of Nikolai use to host buffalo hunts in the Farewell Burn area. It is approximately 45 miles from Rohn, located in a little 'bowl' on the edge of the hills of the Burn.
Most years no one is manning the camp, but the Runkle's make sure it is stocked with wood, the sleeping platform filled with straw and covered with plastic and the door to one of the tents is open for all travelers of the trail. Usually there are signs counting down the last 5 miles to camp.
In 2000 I gave up on getting to Buffalo Camp and camped a mile or so shy of it. In 2001 I ran straight through to Nikolai, but every other year I have stopped.
I have alot of good memories of laughter, warmth and sleep at Buffalo Camp. On year I remember watching a little mouse checking out one of the Seavey boys as he was sleeping in the cabin. There was a plastic sheet between him and the mouse, so I decided he just didn't need to know and both could enjoy the warmth of the cabin.
I think it was Bennie Stamm that set his gloves (or maybe it was his socks) on fire on the wood stove one year.

Definitely the best year was the year the Runkles were out at camp during the race. They had wanted their young son PJ to experience the 'real' Iditarod. PJ greeted mushers as we dropped into the bowl and offered to help us park teams if we wanted to camp.In exchange mushers were giving him loads of snacks and candy from their sleds. Moose stew and buffalo soup was simmering on the wood stove - I had a bowl of each!! It was beyond delicious. Not only were the straw mattress frames out filled with straw, they had covered them all with spruce boughs. I can't recall a more enjoyable nap on Iditarod ever.

This year we had been warned that Buffalo Camp had been all but abandoned. Apparently buffalo hunting was slow and the Runkles were working in Anchorage for the winter.
I pulled in around 9pm and found 2 other mushers camping. I parked the team on some leftover straw, souped them from my cooler and tended to a few feet and shoulders before deciding to walk up to the tents and see what was up. One tent was open, but the stove was gone. Left over tarps and a few torn up sleeping bags littered the one warm and cozy straw sleeping mat. I sat on an old wood stump and pulled off my boots to put some heat packs in them, as the temperature continued to drop.
The main tent was locked and dark and the third tent sported a big rip in the roof.
Everything looked lonely, abandon and neglected.
I know Quest is covered with warm hospitality stops, but Iditarod is not. Buffalo Camp was one of the few remaining 'hold outs'.
Even if it had been set up, I doubt many mushers would have been stopping. Many are now running straight through to Nikolai or like I, only taking short breaks along the way. It is a tribute to what we are learning about our amazing canine friends that we can now expect them to do these longer runs - but I can't help but feel that a small part of Iditarod history has just slipped away.

Status Update (By Richard)

Hi Penny

Tried to upload to Blog from the plant pot, but due to extreme cold and snow falling on the keyboard I couldn't get it to work.

Attempted to enter The Cabin but Cricket was busy e-mailing all the Great Pyr's and Guardian dogs in the area and wouldn't let me in.

Apparently she is trying to form an action group, claiming how unfair it is that they have to spend all night and day out in all weathers fending off bears, coyotes and who knows what else, unarmed, unaided and uninsured and woefully under paid. While the curly tails are all comfy in their nice wooden boxes with nice warm straw beds and the humans are all tucked up under their blankets.

Hope you can pass this onto the outside world for me.


(Had to distract Kara from the inside PC so I could quickly get this message out. Told her the Border Collie had run off with the new pack of Dentastix)

Talk soon I hope.

Richard xx

Thursday 18 March 2010

Team North Wapiti Travels Home (The Cartoonist)

Karen reported that Team North Wapiti is about 90 miles from Canada. They stopped off at Fast Eddies in Tok for some food.

Since she may not have Internet access at the time, she wanted to congratulate Blake Freking:

"By the time I get online again I expect Blake will have crossed the finish line in Nome, again breaking the Siberian record!! Congratulations to Blake, Jenny and all at MCK!!! Way to go!!"

Since I have all of this fancy satellite tracking software, I figured I'd put it to good use and track Karen, Mark, and the Pretty Sled dogs while they travel back home to Canada.

The blue line shows you their route home, and the red line shows their actual path.