Saturday, April 19, 2008

Spring time in Alaska

Can you believe it is the Middle of April ?!? Even for Alaska this is impressive. We have received over a foot of snow this month alone! I have been taking advantage of the SUN and the SNOW and the WARM TEMPS. It is like mushing in paradise. I have been giving the race dogs a little rest before their busy tour season and been focusing on the PUPS and the OLD BOYS. It’s been a blast. Telesto(12), Comet (12) and King(10) feel like the studs of the yard again. And Polaris(13 mos.) and Pluto(13mos.) are gaining confidence. They trained with the race team all fall, but were dropped after the miles became to long and fast. Nova (9mos.) and Pulsar(9mos.) are learning the joy of mushing. And building a solid foundation so that they can do some tours this summer. They were part of the “lucky puppies” the pups born 7/7/07, that many of you held this past summer.

Ahhh they grow so fast. No puppies this year has left me jonesing for my puppy fix. Guess I can wait a couple weeks until I get to camp.

Speaking of which, I am wondering if we will still be going down on the 3rd of May. An avalanche knocked out the hydropower plant in Juneau, they don’t expect it to be running again for a month. This poses two problems: Juneau is running on the diesel powered plant until then, that means electric costs 500% more and if there is an avalanche at Shettisham, that isn’t very far from Sheep Creek, we can’t move up there until Avalanche danger is gone. We’ll have to see.

Jim is off bear hunting in Galena. He snowmachined from Manley (300 miles + ) and I haven't heard from him yet. Hopefully he'll get us a nice bear rug for our new house that god willing we close on THIS WEEK! I am holding down the home fort, Rationing the firewood so don't have to cut it again, but winter won't go away so I'd better warm up the saw.

Friday, April 18, 2008

MY season begins

Well now that the dogs’ season is coming to an end, my season has begun. I ran my first 5K of the year. The Beat Beethoven. It is a fun race, it is a fundraiser for the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra, they play Beethoven’s 5th Symphony and you are to finish the race before it ends (it takes 31 minutes so it’s pretty easy). There is also a guy who dresses up as Beethoven and runs the race, he times it so that he finishes at the exact moment that the music ends. I smoked him! Not my best time, but pretty happy for the first race of the year. Placed 7th out of 60 something in my age class. The first mile is uphill (but nothing like some of the Juneau races) and it was about 18 degrees so it was a little frigid on the lungs. Over 578 people were in the race. I finished around 60th overall. Have 2 5K’s this weekend. Hopefully the Sheep Creek crew is in training already too, so we can rock the SERR race circuit again this summer. We should do well with our 2 new mushers, Lucas has run ultra marathons, and Ed has run a few marathons himself, then of course we have both Matts, Tasha, and Sarah returning

Our Last Hurrah!

Our last hurrah. Last week I was supposed to run the Taiga 300 but I had to spend the race budget on purchasing our new house, so to make myself feel better Jim and
I loaded up 20 dogs and Cosmos into the truck and headed for the White Mountains.

We took 2 ten dog teams 30 miles out to Crowberry Cabin, a BLM cabin and set up a base camp. Everything had been melting fast so we thought this may be our last trip. It was snowing heavily when we left the parking lot, it was like running in a slow globe. That made the trails nice, but was kind of disappointing because without the vistas the whites are kind of blah. A forest fire 2 years ago wiped out much of the trees, and even the old Crowberry Cabin. But it was nice to be out with Jim and the dogs. Actually the burnt black spruce have a sort of charm to them.

We ate HUGE King Crab legs, Spring Asparagus and shared a bottle of Pinot Noir and watched the crescent moon rise behind the White Mountains as it chased the snow clouds away. The dogs were a little rowdy that night, 30 miles isn’t much even for the yearlings. Plus for some of the dogs, this was their first camping trip.

The next morning we woke to beautifully sunny skies and a wonderful view into the mountains we would be climbing. We headed out to the Windy Gap Divide. It was a wonderful trip, we made fresh tracks on the untouched trails, so it gave us the feeling of being “way out there” instead of just 4o miles outside of Fairbanks. It was hot so we stopped often, which provides for tons of doggy/musher bonding. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Back at “base camp” the sun was still out (thank god for Alaska’s Midnight Sun, or 10:30pm sun in April) and the dogs laid and basked in the sun. They were much relaxed after a big work out and the warm temps. Jim and I feasted on Burgandy-Pepper Steaks, and Asparagus, and shared a bottle of Merlot and watched the neon peach sunset dance with the wispy blue sky.

The next day the skies were clear again. We slept in and left at noon to head back to the truck. It was slow going, but we arrived tanned faced and happy. A perfect end-of -the-season trip.