Weekends are so hard to come back from, especially when they’re as good as this last one was. In the last four days we have been to the Caribou Hills three times and put in some huge miles. We’ve really mixed it up, too. We’ve done a few day runs and a couple of night runs, we’ve broken trail and followed trails, and we’ve alternated the weight, speed and distance traveled for training purposes. The results are clear, as the dogs are looking stronger with each passing run.
However, we still need more snow, because the little we got is getting very compacted as teams run over the trail. Some of the lower elevation trails were thin to begin with, as we found out first hand while putting in some trail on Sunday. One of the first descents was almost bare and deeply rutted, so as Joseph stomped the brake, one of the paddled-teeth tore off when an attaching bolt (grade-5) snapped like a twig. Fortunately, despite the high-speed descent with half a brake, no one — dog or human — was injured. You never know how the snow is until you try, but this is a trail we won’t be back on until more accumulations fill it in.
We also got in another camping trip this past week. These are always a good way to practice checkpoint efficiency, and to teach the dogs to eat and rest well while away from home. And really, they are just a lot of fun. We settled into a great area, down in a valley and out of the wind. We parked the teams, got them strawed and fed, and everyone immediately tucked in for a few hours of shut-eye, just like they should. The only exceptions were our two yearlings: Kawlijah and Seeker. This was there first camping trip, so they did like most pups do on their first time out — they sat up all night. While most of the dogs rested, we ate some camp grub and chopped some wood, which we used to get a blazing fire going. It was only about 18 degrees so we didn’t really need the fire for warmth, but they are so enjoyable when just hanging out that we couldn’t resist building one.
Here are some photos from recent runs. In the first one, two year old, Hank, and his sister, Hildy, are a dynamic duo in lead. The second image is a hungry dog team with all eyes on Joseph as they wait for their dinner. Notice the thick fog that rolled in. The third image is lead dog Waylon checking one last time to be sure no more snacks will be handed out. He lied down right after this photo was taking, like the rest of the team behind him. In the last image, Cole dries some gloves by the flickering fire. her fire building skills may come in handy during the Yukon Quest.