Monday, January 5, 2009

Start of the Seney 300

Today was the start of the Seney 300 - a distance sleddog qualifier for the Iditarod.

Tom Roig prepares to depart in the predawn of a crisp U.P. morning

Whitney Warren (right) demonstrates how to booty a dog with a willing Heartly to vacationing Reed Staub (left) and Ross Reilly (center)

It's -10 degrees at 6:30 a.m when a small convoy of dog trailers and trucks arrives at Al Hardman's kennel for the start of the Seney 300 training run. Everyone is keyed up - dogs, mushers and handlers - despite the early hour and frosty temperatures. Dogs bark wildly as they're bootied and harnassed, their breath crystallizing into frosty beards on their muzzles.

Tom Knoll embarking on a journey with his malamutes and their Alaskan leaders. Through the Seney and Tahquamenon races, Tom was able to acheive the mileage necessary for his malamutes to receive a distinguished certificate for pulling

Everything is more extreme in extreme cold. Sunrises seem to crackle; sunsets brighter. I think of all the sunrises like this I've missed - all of the brilliant pink sky behind pristine white tundra-covered conifers and birches.

My boots squeak loudly it's so cold. But the sky is lit up with the most gorgeous pastel hues; it makes the cold tolerable, warms me from the inside.

It warms the teams, too. About twelve teams leave the starting chute at 9 a.m. for a 300 mile ride with 12 dogs in the Michigan snow. It was a beautiful day for the start.

Today I also took Jack and Yeti into town for a much-needed break, with some burgers and one-on-one attention.
More to come from the checkpoints...

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