Wednesday, December 28, 2011

White Mountains Christmas

My husband Robert and I spent Christmas Eve and morning in the white mountains this year with most of our dogs. We left the dog truck at about 5pm on christmas eve and mushed the dogs out about 16 miles to the moose creek cabin where we spent the night, it was a very hilly run so every one got a good work out including us mushers who ran up most of the hills behind the dogs. I got my christmas present early this year so that I could use it on the trip, I got a Piko headlamp made by Lupine from Robert. It is an awesome gift and one I will put to very good use, it has 750 lumens of light so compared to the other head lamp I was using which only had 120 lumens it's a bit like turning on the sun. I really appreciated this head lamp on the run out to the cabin since it was all done in the dark.

For this trip we split the race team in half I took 5 dogs and Robert took 6, and then we had two if our 7 month old pups (Jana&Drummer) running loose with the team. They spent most of their time running up in front of the team playing with each other. They did both of the 16 mile runs like they were nothing and didn't even look tired after day number two. I think I have the makings of an awesome race team on my hands with this litter.

We did the run back to the truck on christmas morning and then finished off our day by having a delicious dinner with our friends at Dome Creek Kennel.

My team consisting of: BP (lead) Rapid and Rogue (Swing)
Summit and Chaos (wheel) and Drummer and Jana ( running
loose up front)
BP sleeping in his straw next to the cabin to help block the wind. We had a very
windy night with temperatures ranging from -20F to 0F the
dogs handled it just fine. The star and aurora viewing
were absolutely fantastic.

Getting ready to leave the cabin in the morning.
Roberts team consisted of: Pip and Adidas (lead) Swamper and
Chupa (swing) Sierra and Molly (wheel)
Robert petting Chupa after the run.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Solstice 100

I realize that this post is a few days over due and I would like to start by apologizing for that, it has been a crazy hectic week. This past weekend the team and I ran our first 100 mile race and had a blast and learned a lot. This was a very fun and relaxed race consisting of two 50 mile runs with a 4 hour lay over between them, the perfect way to start my racing career. I have wanted to race with my sled dogs ever since I was 5 years old and I finally got too, and now I am hooked! It was everything I thought it would be and then some.
The team did beautifully, I am so proud of them. They did the 100 miles in 11 hours and 46 minutes coming in 9th place out of 12 teams. Not to bad for our first long race. Previously the longest race we'd run was the Hamburger run which is about 30 miles long. We crossed the finish line at 3:08 am sunday morning with a happy team of 9 dogs. We started the race at about 11 am  saturday with 10 dogs. I dropped Chupa at the half way check point because her feet were a little sore because of a few splits in the skin between her toes, she didn't let it slow her down though and came into the check point with a tight tug line and wagging tail, but it was in her  best interest in the long run to have her wait with the handlers with the dog truck for the rest of the team to run the last 50 miles with out her.
The trail was absolutely fantastic! it was hard packed and all the over flow was dry on the way out. On the way back some of the over flow spots were a little wet but not enough to be of any concern. 10 minutes after leaving the check point on the second half of the race my wheel dogs went for a little swim in the Chena River after a musher ahead of us broke the ice out accidentally on one of the river crossings. It wasn't a big deal, I stopped the team and they were able to easily climb out. I dried them off the best I could and then put dog coats on them for a few hours. Further down the trail it got to warm and I had to remove their coats to keep them from over heating.  It was -10 f when we got to the check point and +20 f  when we finished the race, a little warm for the dogs which contributed to a slightly longer run on the second half of the race. We did the first 50 miles in 5 hours and 17 minutes and the second one in 6 hours and 29 minutes.
The photo at the top of this post is of my team at about the 20 mile mark on the first stretch of the race, it was taken by Carol Falcetta. You can see some of her other photos of the race by going to this link e=3
And you can go to this link for the official race times and to see how other mushers placed

With only 4 hours of day light on race day this was my
view for most of the race. This was taken during the second half of the
 race. Note the coats I put on the wheel dogs Sierra
and Chaos after they fell through the hole in the ice.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The race is on!

Here at the kennel we have been waiting to hear if the Solstice 100 race in Two Rivers Alaska is on and we just heard its a go. It was up in the air for awhile as to whether to cancel the race or not due to lack of snow, but over the past week we have gotten enough snow to make the trail safe. The race is run in two 50 mile runs with a four hour layover at the Angel Creek Lodge in between runs. For more information on the race please visit

I am excited and nervous about the race, it is my first 100 mile race, but I hear its a good one to start with. I will be running 10 dogs in the race: Adidas, Rapid, BP, Chupa, Swamper, Pip, Summit, Sierra, Rogue, and Chaos. The photo at the top of todays post if of the race team on a 40 mile training run sunday with my friend Hollie Ann in the basket. The team looks great and I have no doubt we will finish the race with a happy team still ready to run.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pictures From The Trail

Over the past few days the temperature has warmed from a brisk -20f to a very balmy +20f, and with the warmer weather has come more snow. During the past three days we have gotten about 2-3 inches of fresh snow, while not much it has helped to smooth out our rough trails a little. The dogs don't seem to mind a bumpy trail but my knees and feet are rather tired of all the bouncing and   jarring.

  I have slowly increased the dogs mileage over the past week from about 20 miles a run to just over 30 miles a run and they are loving it. They look great and return home from running still wagging their tails and barking to go. This group of canines is undoubtedly one of the most athletic I have gotten the privilege of training in my 16 seasons of running dogs. I hope to be doing 40 mile runs with them by the end of the week.

   With all of this new snow and the warmer temperatures it is necessary to put booties on all of the dogs feet before every run. Dog booties are  made out of a fabric called cordura and are worn on the dogs feet kinda like socks, they are held in place by a strip of Velcro that goes around the dogs leg and attaches to its self. They help protect their feet from rough snow and ice and also wet snow that will stick to the hair on their feet and pack into snowballs between their toes which can rub and create painful sores and splits that will some times bleed. While it can be time consuming and very costly at just over a dollar a boot to bootie up the whole team it is well worth it to protect their feet. A bootie is only good for about 100 miles before it wears through and becomes useless, needless to say we go through a lot of booties in a season.

  Some dogs have what mushers call "good feet" which means that they don't tend to get snow balls or sores on their feet and their feet require very little maintenance to keep them healthy. While other dogs have "bad feet" which means they are more prone to getting snowballs in their feet and usually require more maintenance like dog booties on every run.

  On long runs I will stop the dogs about every two hours for a snack, its just a quick stop only about 5 minutes or so. The snacks aren't very big only about a 1/4 of a pound or so of meat per dog. I give them things like frozen beef, fish, or chicken, I try to avoid really fatty snacks especially when its warm (above 0F)  that would make them sluggish. These short breaks allow me to briefly check dogs and make sure they all still have their booties on and what not.

 I have added quite a few pictures to the end of this post in hopes to give you an idea of what I see on a daily basis during my training runs behind the kennel located northwest of Fairbanks Alaska.  These photos were all taken over the past several days, I hope you enjoy them.