Monday, November 4, 2013

Fall in full swing

Fall is in full swing, and unfortunately, blogging about it has been the last thing on my mind!

October is always my favorite month, and it's a time of real conditioning for the dogs. In the beginning of the month, our focus is on muscle-building, and slow, shorter runs are key. We start out the season with 2-4 mile training runs to get the dogs back in the swing of things, but by mid-October, we're running 10 miles.

Every year for the past seven seasons, I drive up to my friends Bob and Jan Shaw's home in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for their annual fall sled dog training session. They live right next door to the cabin I lived in last season. My oldest daughter, Sophie, has grown up knowing them as sort of surrogate grandparents. It was with Jan that Sophie had her first solo ride on a dog sled when she was seven. Hard to believe that was seven years ago!

Sophie is a teenager now and has taken an interest in other things besides hanging out with her mom and a bunch of dogs. It's been awhile since she joined me up north, but this season was extra special as she decided she wanted to return to the great north woods with her sister and me for a weekend of running dogs!

Sophie hugs a dog at Nature's Kennel
We had a great weekend running dogs and catching up with all of our mushing friends ... after a slight mishap. On the desolate stretch of M-123 between Trout Lake and Moran, where it's almost impossible to even reach a cell signal, the dog trailer got a flat. It was just after dark, and I had no way to change the tire, for, you see, this is not just any dog trailer. This is my dog trailer: which the previous owner had conveniently rigged to make it impossible to change a tire by bolting the wheel to the axle. A normal tire iron will not work; one needs socket wrenches and tools.

Luckily, I was traveling within 30 minutes of friends I've known but had only just met that day: Sandy and Karyn, who were en route to Shaw's training session, too. I had just enough signal to put out an S.O.S. to them, and they came to find the girls, dogs and me stranded there by the side of the tiny state road.

For the sake of brevity, the cliff's notes version of the story is we managed to double-box some of Sandy and Karyn's dogs two-to-a-box - enough to make room for mine...with some improvising. Four of mine had to ride in the car with the girls and me. I picked the four who I knew would get along splendidly and we finally made it to Bob and Jan's!

It was bittersweet being back on these same beautiful trails that were our backyard last season.

Stopped along the trail, Tosh (right) gets a turn at lead with Big Brown (laying down)

The dogs knew exactly where we were. The trails are so good for the dogs because they're all sand. Great for feet, joints and muscle-building.

The team running in the morning sun

I miss living up in the Upper Peninsula, and it was awesome to spend time with the girls in these old stomping grounds. They're such good helpers and always so good with the dogs. 

Elise hugs Dove aka Dover - a dog I'd known years ago who now runs tours at Nature's Kennel
Here are some pictures taken of the team taking off, thanks to mushing fans and supporters, Claudia and Lee Nowak.

My crazy dogs, amped and ready to roll

And we're off!

Saturday night, we all gathered inside to eat some great food and listen to Bruce Magnusson talk about the Copper Dog 150
And catch up with good friends. My friend, Stan, sits next to me. I was focused on listening to Bruce

Now it's November, and the fun short training runs will give way to longer, colder, and often wetter training runs. We have a lot of work ahead of us in the next two months before our first race. Stay tuned and as always...


1 comment:

Please leave comments - I always love reading them! namaste!