Thursday, November 30, 2006

Random nonsensical snowy images

Yeehaw!! It snowed all night and the temperatures feel practically downright balmy!!

The dogs are loving the warmer weather and instead of curling up in a ball (or ballS) outside, they were back to beating the crap out of each other. And playing. Lovingly playing with each other. Below, Gracie baits Kuna into tearing after her:

"C'mon 'ya big doofus! I may be small, but I'm FAST!!!"

Lucy looks to me to save her...

"I'm not related to those maniacs, by the way..."

Lookey here - there is soooo much snow, you can barely see! Ok, that and it's dark. But ooh! Snow!

Radioactive dog eyes everywhere.

Zombie Gracie

"I vill eat your braaaain!"

Squinty-eyed Harris

"Ooch! There is so much snow it's piercing my sensitive eyeballs"

Christmas-y cabin! (and.... snow!)

Lesson of the Day: Kuna learns what a pulled rotator cuff feels like!

Ouch! Who's hurting more? Him or poor Harris?

"I'm fine! But... keep him away from me eh?"

Snow on straw

In behind this straw fortress is Gabe's daytime house - complete with dog pillow and blankets. The straw serves as the wind block. Yes, I know. They're spoiled, sucky dogs.

Hey look! More snow.

Hopefully I'll get on the sled this weekend if the temperatures don't nosedive again. It was warming up last night to -22C, then I awoke to -35C once again this morning. Ah, well, snow always makes everything better.

Ahhh, sleepy human and canines...

NEXT UP: Crew #2 frolicking in the snow!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

What is Ripper trying to ingest now?

Why, duct tape of course!!

Look past Gabe's floppy ears and you can see Ripper carrying the tape around.

He was sneaking around the cabin, then plopped this right in front of me. He is very intrigued by it. Probably trying to figure out how to eat it!

"Yum! Tough chewing though..."

"Maybe if I just bite at it gently..."

"Uh oh, dang! She's noticed me..."

So I start to tease and taunt him with the tape - look at that intensity!! He is very serious about things he steals.

And big head.

"Big whup. Tape. Yawwwwn...."

Alright, the cold snap is slowly breaking. We're up to -30 tonight! Woohoo!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Freakin' cold

This is ridiculous!! Two nights of -45 to -47C(!!!) and cabin fever is starting to set in. Problem is, is that you can't go anywhere, unless you want to destroy your vehicle, you can only go outside bundled up for brief periods of time till your appendages start to freeze off. I cut wood in brief sporadic periods of running inside to warm, cut for 10 minutes, run back inside... repeat till I have enough wood for the night. I don't want to get *too* ahead of myself y'know.

I do like the cold, but I don't like it *this* cold. My stove is going full blast non-stop, the walls and floors in spots are starting to ice over, my door won't shut properly - and I don't want to push it, and have the whole thing shatter. All in all, it's been a fun weekend! Even better, is that this is going to continue!! Thank goodness I don't work tomorrow.

But I am getting an amazing amount of cleaning done! My loft is going to be spotless, and I may even go so far as to get the dishes done.

Oh, and the mice were having a freakin' PARTY in the roof last night!! They were running all over and squealing - I swear, I heard dance music playing. And I wasn't even invited. I'd better get that soup pot going! :)

My loft was a bit warm last night, so I opened up the window upstairs - and the steam that came out was like something I've never seen! Check it out:

Even though I had noticed this the day before, the escaping steam was coming out so much it looked like smoke escaping from a fiery building. I briefly panicked and ran inside to make sure something hadn't caught on fire!! Yep, it was just the warm air coming out making contact with the wicked cold air outside. Crazy.

But we're managing to keep toasty inside. At these temps, the dogs are VERY good inside and can easily be inside for 10 HOURS without moving much. Even then, sometimes I have to nudge a couple of them to get out in the mornings. Here's Ivy and Sage sharing one of the two dog pillows inside. How nice of them to share with each other!

"Dang, it's cold out there! Who would stay outside in these temperatures? Normal dogs perhaps? Good thing we're not normal dogs.... brrrr!!!"

Friday, November 24, 2006

They're baaaaaack!

(this is not for the squeamish or PETA people...)

The MICE that is. Every winter we (uh, the dogs and I) go through this. The mice infiltrate my roof and run amock until they drive me nuts and worst of all - wake me up in the middle of the night with their scratching and moving about. Because mice are most active between 3 and 5am - did you know that? I sure do. I don't mind them keeping their own space in the roof, they do their thing, I do mine. I stay out of the roof, they stay outta my space. But this morning, those varmints broke our little "agreement" and at 4am I awoke to a rustling... just off to the side of my head!

I shoot upright and am suddenly awake blindingly fast. It's like those dog-fight spidey senses that kick in - your brain kicks into high gear because you have to do something about the situation. And fast! Well, of course mice are so darned sneaky and small, you can't see them or see what they're up to - especially in my loft that is chock full of clothes and rubbermaid containers and stuff. But I'd never heard a mouse so close to me before. Needless to say, it was a creepy feeling.

Of course, the rustling stopped so I tried to wait out the little sucker, but he won. I went back to sleep. This happened about three more times, and I finally switched on the light to see a moving shadow inside a plastic bag on my nightstand!! What the heck do you do with a mouse-in-a-bag at 5am in a loft with 14 hungry (when a mouse is involved!), easily excitable huskies downstairs? (yes, it's been CCCCCOLD!!! It has just hit -41C!!! First time this year. It's not even Dec. yet!)

I envisioned the mouse rustling around in the bag, me carrying it downstairs, and sleepy huskies waking up instantly to the smell of prey. Then they all attempt to attack the bag, and it's one big chaotic hairy mess. It could totally happen.

So I did the only other thing I could think of. I somehow opened my half-frozen window and turfed the whole bag out the window. The bag with gift wrapping in it and the mouse. If anything, I thought it would be a quick, relatively painless death for him - but fully thought the little bugger would climb right back up the wall and into the roof to join the rest of the family of 75 micelings(?). They're relentless that way.

But alas, I found the little frozen mouse body outside this morning. He didn't get very far.

Then. In the cabin tonight - Sage was obsessed with the cupboard. He stood staring at it for hours with his head tilted, watching, waiting. You just know there's probably like 15 other mice hanging around too. So I pulled out some mousetraps, ready to annihilate the unwanted guests. I never thought Sage would actually catch the mouse, since it was hiding among water jugs, more rubbermaid containers, and, well, more crap jammed into this wee cabin.

But!! Sage is now Sage-the-Great-Hunter!!! His patience paid off as he snatched the defenseless mouse with his lightning fast reaction. He's the hunter who is kind of grossed out by his kill though, as he tried to eat it, but just couldn't stomach it. So I snatched it away and disposed of it - a cremation of sorts... in my woodstove.

So... two down, about 15-100 mice to go! Hm. I guess we have a busy weekend ahead.

Sage - aka: CRE - Canine Rodent Exterminator

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Skijoring action!

Here's a bit of video skijoring behind Ripper, Loki and Harris last week - in preparation for the Copper Haul Twister!

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Race recap

Well, if you've read the race blog, you know the whole event was a huge success!! We had a total in all classes of 25 teams turn out. 17 teams in the 12-mile race made for a LOT of passes for everyone. I think I had about 12 passes myself. All went very well. Of course, for some of them, it did help to be zooming downhill by another team who was coming UP hill - the momentum just shot you by the other teams. There's not a lot of time for the dogs to get into trouble.

The parking lot - pre-race. Bring out your ganglines!!

One of the kids teams getting ready to roll!

It wasn't as cold a day as we've had lately, but was still about -20C with a slight wind, and later on, the snow started. It was easy to get a bit cool by just standing around. People (me included) were hopping in their vehicles to warm up every so often). Next time, we have plans to get a bonfire going for everyone to run to and warm up! Mmmm... perhaps some hot chocolate too?!?

Start of the kid's race

Pallets and straw - a musher's best friend. Those and duct tape. Note the fancy sewing job (aka: duct tape) on my left leg. Heather commented that she thought it was a cheap knee brace! Now, that would be *really* cheap! Nope, just holding my pants together.

So, me at the start, going out second last. And funnily enough - chatting with local sled builder, Steve Tufford about the sleds he builds! Yes, we all have one track minds. Steve and Bob(?) there at the start line are perennial volunteers at races, and if I saw anyone else at a race start holding the dogs back, the universe would seem out of whack!

My race went pretty well, consdering Ripper, Loki, Harris and I had only done this distance once before. We were off to a great start and shot down the trail, caught up to Heather (who had left 2 mins before) at about mile 3 or so, and then a couple more sled teams. Luckily I didn't run into anyone on the long, steep downhill (whew!). We did the few hills and loops at the end and headed back. That's when my arch nemesis, Jon, caught me!! Argh! He was 2 mins behind me. He has also been running that trail for a month now like a man posessed!!

We did get a bit of a boost when he passed as my dogs chased him for a while, but Loki was a bit "off" today. He just seemed a little bit more tired than normal. Ripper was still trying to lope down the trail, but with Loki beside him refusing to go any faster than a trot (rapidly slowing one at that), we were kind of screwed. Harris was in behind, pulling and looking good, so my only choice was to switch Harris into lead and move Loki back.

Well, easier said than done on skis!! Trying to switch a couple dogs around when of course, they DON'T WANT TO STOP, unhooking necklines and tuglines, and having dogs wrap themselves around you, each other and the skis, makes for a bit of excitement during the race! We finally got going 5 minutes later or so, and picked up some speed. For most of the way back, we were alone on the trail - didn't see anyone ahead or behind. Until about 1 mile before the finish line I saw a team wayyy up ahead. Lucky for us, we slowly caught up to the sled team. Neither of us were going too fast, and both humans were working hard at helping the team. It was funny and felt like the slowest pass in the history of passing as we trudged up the hill to the finish line.

Our time was 71 mins, and we did come in 7th which was pretty good in my books.

After the race - I drove my dogs to McDonald's and bought them each a cheeseburger!! Sure, may not be the "best" post-performance food for an *elite* sled dog (ha!) of this calibre, but they devoured the burgers!! Loki wasn't sure what it was at first, and Ripper almost took my hand off snatching it! Anyways, I thought they deserved a greasy little treat after the run.

The somewhat delirious crew of race officials. They had been standing out in the -20C (with wind and blowing snow) for oh, about 4 hours by this time.

"Cold? What cold?!?! We're tough Yukoners... (brrrrr)!"

For the next race - there are so many possibilities! Which dogs do I run? Sled or skis? I really want to get Sage and Ivy out there too. Rupert can be a maniac in a race with crazy energy, but if he tires out, he hits a wall. He's also about 11 years old. And, I swear Jack was not happy being left behind, esp. with his buddy Harris, gone without him. They both seemed out of sorts, being separated from each other for a whole day. I'll have to see if Jack is up for those 12-miles next month. Any which way, the possibilites are endless!!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

CHT results

Check out the race results on the CHT race blog. It was a fun day and a whack of people showed up!! Good times! I'll post my pics here as soon as I can lift my arms again... ;)

Friday, November 17, 2006

First Skijor! Wahoo!

This was a bit of race preparation and trail recon. out there yesterday. In case you haven't heard (god knows we've been flogging it enough!) the Copper Haul Twister kicks off the racing season tomorrow!

We don't have a TON of snow, but it is do-able! And quite possibly, the most fun, most adrenalin-pumping trail I've been on with 3 dogs and planks on my feet.

Ok, except for the beginning, where the dogs were total maniacs and would NOT let me get my skis on!! I was trying to get set to go in time for Laura and her 10-dog team to come up behind us. But... the worst case scenario - Laura and team goes zooming by as I only have ONE ski on and NO gloves. Oh yeah, that just ensures the dogs get extra crazy... grrreat! I briefly considered letting them pull my lifeless body as far as they wanted as I was quickly losing energy and patience... but once you give in - they'll expect it every time!

So we got away eventually - I put Loki and Ripper in lead, Harris in behind. Harris, however, ran the first 2 miles or so way ahead of us, loose. I had enough with these freaks and my fingers were practically frozen, so that was the only way I could get going fast. He booted down the trail for 500ft or so then stopped, realizing we weren't with him! He came back and generally annoyed Ripper by bouncing in his face a few times, but losing that excess psycho-ness was necessary!

We finally caught up to Laura and I was able to hook up the Harris-monster. The three-dog team was speedy and fun. That's Laura and her super-reflecto parka ahead.

These guys were totally nuts and powered up the hills, following Laura's team. This trail is so twisty and hilly, it is a total blast to run. At one point, we were climbing up and up and I knew the hill(I had been warned) was coming. I was practically doing the splits snowplowing... then we hit some gravel at the top of the hill! Oh joy! Nothing better than rocks when you're flying semi-out-of-control and heading DOWNHILL!

We seemed to be going up a lot of hills, then coming down twisty, windy trails - but the first hill was by far the freakiest and the speed we picked up was crazy. I almost caught up to the dogs, but was able to brake enough to stay behind. The faster we went the more excited they got. And I have to admit, my screeching and laughing behind probably got them going too! It was more of a "I'm gonna diiiiiieeeeeeeee!" moment.

I won't deny it - it was slightly exhausting. First time on skis this year, 12-miles and I was spent. My feet were sore, my toes a bit cold, and I wondered why my eyes felt heavy - oh, that was just frost, practically freezing my eyeballs shut. Ah, who needs to see when you have super-dogs leading you around? My hands however, were super toasty warm in the new beaver mitts! The dogs were getting a bit more tired near the end too, but they were hard-working little troopers right up until the end. I was very proud of them! It was our first 12-miler of the season. We'll see how we do... tomorrow, on race day!

A few post-run shots:

Harris looking for some lovin' - or... more likely wiping his frozen snot on me. Hmmm... I should have done the same to him.

Ripper (R) and Loki - awesome in lead. Loki was a total maniac and my god, he can pull me off my feet in no time if he wants to. He may look dainty as he glides effortlessly over the snow, but he's also a bit of a He-Man.

Ripper's too-big coat is covering up his still partially-bald belly. He had been out of training after his sock-surgery, so he is a bit behind everyone else in distance. Not like that matters to this maniac. (I will have to fill you all in on the latest thing he tried to eat - a roll of duct tape!)

And the shot of a frozen me while Harris is rubbing his snot on me. Although if anything, I was too hot with my 18 layers of clothing! Must layer correctly next time.

Next: RACE DAY!!!

Monday, November 13, 2006


The forecast is looking pretty good right now for that white fluffy stuff...

Oohhhh... we might be heading into for the best week so far this winter!

We've got a few fresh inches on the ground now, but if it keeps up like this we will be on the sleds/skis VERY soon! Laura and I are already planning a ski(me)/sled(her) Thursday afternoon. Any other Copper Haul Twister-wanna-be's up for a run through the race course?? C'mon out after noon!

The race just might be a GO for THIS SATURDAY!!!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sled Dog Symposium Recap

Laura and I headed out bright n' early for the 11.5hr drive to Fairbanks. The lack of snow on the highways for the most part made for an easy drive.

Sheep Mountain. Gee... I wonder what those little white things are littered all over the mountain!?!


They were everywhere. Bazillions of them. Here we stopped to get a closer look. I pulled the stupid tourist move and ran out onto the road without really thinking. I couldn't help it, they looked so... cuddly!! Halfway across the highway I saw the headline flash before me: Stupid local angers wildlife and is tramped by a herd of cuddly sheep. Her last words were... "Doh!""

Hell, for someone who was able to anger a beaver and get attacked by it, I came to my senses and headed back to the truck. Laura got this great photo of the one sheep as it was eyeing me up.

"Yes, yes, come closer... me and my 57 buddies here are just looking for an excuse to trample something!"

Only in Alaska can you find a trailer on the side of the road chock FULL of bunny boots!!!

It was like a dream come true. And yes, I couldn't resist - I had to get another pair. My old ones were a bit too big and starting to rip after 5 years of use.

For Michael and Fawn - another type of Jade! :)

Now that is one massive mineral!!

Ok, now let's get down to business - the reason we were there... Dog Talk!

Jeff King and his innovative "tail-dragger" sled. He gave a great talk and filled us all in on his new innovations with his dogs. The most interesting to me was his use of an "altitude room" for the dogs - to up their oxygen levels. No, actually, it was the hot tub for the dogs. Hot tub. For dogs.

Interesting stories from Jerry Riley (left) and George Attla. Jerry was a long distance racer and won the Iditarod back in the 70's. Attla... well, need I explain who he is?? Legendary sprint racer.

They were both very entertaining as they told some old stories and how mushing has evolved over the years.

Jerry even brought some of the old-style equipment. I'm thinking of trying these out!

Giganto leather collars and old harnesses, ropes...

Toggles to attach a harness to mainline. This was cool stuff.

Laura almost peed herself with excitement when she found out Attla was going to be a speaker, so of course she needed a picture with him:


Quest talk! From Left: Questers Kelly Griffin, Lance Mackey, John Schandelmeier, Gwen Holdmann, Race Marshall Mark, and ?

Laura is interested in running the Quest in the future, so she was right into this 2+ hour talk on the minute details of the race, taking notes, paying close attention. Me, I was wheelin' and dealin' for my sled and didn't see much of it at all.

Our hotel. It was quite lovely really. Cheap too! And the most important thing - a beer fridge. Well, a mini fridge, but it was our beer fridge. Nice.

This is what happens when you hang out with a blogger. They snap pictures incessantly of everybody else - Laura getting sick of yet another freakin' picture. I think she was showing off her NEW FREE Skookum Brand parka here. It is nice. I want one. I want a free one.

Then somehow later, the pringles exploded all over Laura's bed. I'm not even really sure how it happened...

All I know is that beer fridge kept getting emptier, and emptier...

And that was the symposium. Well, there was more, but I did show restraint with the camera for most of the symposium.

A mere 2 days later, we were back on the road again.

And hit the North Pole Christmas store! Finally. It's been closed everytime I go by there!

This is my "Holy Freakin' Christmas" photo!

If this store can't get you in the Christmas mood, there is something definitely wrong with you.

I was singing "Jingle Bells" in no time. And my old cowtown friends please take note of the Baby Jesus in the background in the picture below... he was still there when I left. But man. He was one big fat baby Jesus. Geez.

Santa's Husky! Who needs reindeer anyways?

Unless you have 12 of these bad-boys!

And yes, you could sit on him. Cool eh? I only bought one for each dog. Every dog needs a gigantic stuffed reindeer right?!?