Archive for June, 2009

Fish Camp Complete

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

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After nearly two weeks we have finally finished at fish camp on the Kasilof River and returned home to a semi-normal life. We were able to put up dozens of sockeye salmon for us and the dogs this winter (see photos above and below). With the horses we already had, that only leaves us with two of our four freezers empty now, but they likely won’t stay that way for long. Within a week or two we’ll stop by the local seafood processor in town and see if thy will be willing to give us their fishheads again this season. Then we will be all set heading into winter, at least food wise.
Plans wise, we’re still not sure what we want to do this winter. After having an exciting time on the Yukon Quest last year, the race is really calling to us again this season. There is just something fun about the multi-cultural component of the Quest. Half of the race is in the Yukon, so there are always Canadian mushers, many of whom are French and German. The Quest is also a real mushers race, not attracting the mushing “celebrities” and even more numerous wanna-be’s of the Iditarod. Also, after finishing in 12th place as a rookie and with 11 of the 14 dogs she started with, Cole is eager to run the Quest again to this time race harder, improve on her performance from last year, and see the trail in a different direction. Like any mushing trail, you never really know it until you’ve run it both ways.
That being said, Iditarod is also appealing. Despite the “hollywood” and “corporate” aspects of the race, it is still a great opportunity to see a different 1,000 miles of trail by dog team, and to be honest, it does get old being asked by everyone, when Cole will run the damn thing. However, at $4,000 to enter, the cost is a little too high for us to afford. Some people have argued the while the Quest is only $1,500 to enter, the cost of gas makes them even, but last year we didn’t end up spending the difference of $2,500 in gas, not to mention that by traveling along the Quest with the truck, we got back every kernel of kibble and every piece of meat we cut. In Iditarod these items are not returned and this cost can add up quickly, since to prepare for being pinned down in a storm, huge amounts of food must be sent to every checkpoint.
Cole applied for a $10,000 grant offered through Iditarod in the hopes of running the race, but we heard last week she did not get it. While we were disappointed, we know it was their loss. Cole’s devotion to not just her dogs, but to championing the cause to improve the welfare of all sleddogs, would have been a step in the right direction for restoring the public perception of a race that had an abysmal number of dog deaths last year.
Of course, the two 1,000 mile races aren’t the only options either. Cole loves competing in the mid-distance races around the state and typically uses them as training. However, now that the team is finally mature, sitting out any 1,000 mile races this season would allow Cole to race to her full potential in possibly the Copper Basin 300 or Tustumena 200, without fear of injuring or burning out the team, as is always a looming thought for a “big” race later in the year.
So summer is the time for planning, and we will likely continue to whittle away what we’d like to do with the kennel before we get too far along here, then all we have to do is hope that winter provides enough snow to make our training and racing dreams a reality.
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Cole teaching her niece how to filet a fish.
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Cole and Buckwheat cooking dinner in camp.

Lazy Days of Summer

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

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While there is no denying that sled dogs love to run, that doesn’t mean that like all dogs, they don’t love to just loaf around with full bellies, soaking in the summer sun. Here is some recent proof. This first photo is Doc, still hanging in there, despite being more than 12 years old and still battling it out with stomach cancer.
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In the photo above Screamer says, “Oh, you’re up? Mind starting the coffee?”
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Photo above, Penny and her favorite tree root pillow.
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Photo above, Sampson, another one of our senior citizens, and his ridiculous morning face. Tell me this guy doesn’t look like someone who would hit snooze on the alarm like a million times.
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This is as close as Cyder, an all-business dog, gets to reclinning while relaxing. A total work-a-holic.