Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Packed and headed to the great north woods

M 123, a road that literally leads to Paradise: Paradise, Michigan that is

This coming weekend marks the kick off to another season. It is a weekend typically low on sleep but big on hope for the upcoming winter. Friends and hundreds of dogs converge in the woods not far from Hemingway's Big Two Hearted River, just outside of the tiny town of Newberry, Michigan and the home of Bob and Jan Shaw and Arctic Wind Sled Dog Kennel.

If you are not familiar with the U.P. - Michigan's Upper Peninsula - it is the farthest northern point of the mid-west you can drive to without falling into Lake Superior and then Canada. It is where I spend much of my time in the fall and winter - where I train and race, an absolutely gorgeous place of stark beauty, where wolves roam and bears grimace.

A Shaw dog sits regally at his house last fall

The season is in full swing already. But somehow this annual party is a cornerstone and official marker for the season for mushers in the mid-west. It is a bittersweet weekend of seeing people I consider an extended family long enough to laugh, catch up, talk dog, and say good bye returning to "real life." That is, until we see each other again when the snow flies.

My young leader, Ruffian, as a yearling at last year's annual rig session

I should be sleeping, but I'm still up packing in the wee hours, too excited to sleep like a kid at Christmas eve awaiting Santa's arrival. The dog box is securely attached to the Toyota, and all the dog supplies are loaded.

Stay tuned for scenes from this year's annual Shaw Rig Session and Rabies Clinic! Mush love!

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