Howdy all, and a very happy holiday season
I guess I’d like to get rid of the bad news
first. Not long after our last entry here, where I alluded
to Kobuk’s failing health, he passed away. He is the first
of the dogs that we have bred to leave us. His big, goofy
smiles and always-happy attitude will be sorely missed
around here. Rest in peace, buddy. We miss you.
Ok, on to happier news. Training has been
going great!! There are a couple of dogs in the kennel that
already have as many miles at this point in the season as
they had going in to the Quest last year! This is a major
advancement for us. We’ve taken what we’ve learned in the
past and feel that not only are we getting more miles on the
team this year, but that we are also getting better miles.
We’ve changed how we are structuring our runs and are
spending more time doing longer and tougher, but “easier”
(more relaxed) runs. The team is so experienced now that
very little seems to stress them anymore. I really couldn’t
be happier with how they are performing so far this season.
Snowfall has bee a little marginal here in
Two Rivers and we were due for a change of scenery, so last
week I loaded up 14 of the race dogs and took Brent Sass up
on his offer to come out to the abandoned town of Eureka to
train. He uses the training camp there that the late Susan
Butcher used to train from. There is not much else around
and his operation at the camp is 100% focused on mushing.
Our friends Cody and Paige were there with their 30-ish
dogs. They are just breaking in to distance mushing and Cody
is growing a sled-building business, Dog-Paddle Design.
Lance Mackey and his handler Braxton and Newton Marshall the
Jamaican musher were also staying there last week. With
nearly 200 dogs in camp and 10 mushers and handlers all
running dogs at all hours and all distances, it was quite a
week of full-immersion mushing. Speaking of full-immersion,
one of the highlights of the week was when Brent, Lance,
Braxton, Newton, and I all left camp with 10-12 dog teams at
the same time on a 50-ish mile loop with the Hutlinana hot
springs along the way. It’s about 25 miles from nowhere, but
Brent has a wall-tent set up with a woodstove right at the
springs, so after we all took care of our dogs, we took a
soak in the natural hotsprings at the edge of the stream. It
was dark when we were there so there aren’t any pictures,
but a bunch of ugly, naked mushers with frosted hair doesn’t
make the best pictures anyway. It does however make for some
interesting conversation! Besides that soak at -15, I have
this memory of gliding along in the train of all of us
leaving camp together. We were passing and re-passing each
other to train the dogs and at one point my team was
comfortably cruising along behind Lance’s team with him
glancing over his shoulder at my guys. While I am honored to
count Lance as a friend, I am still sometimes star-struck
with his amazing accomplishments as a musher. It was a
pretty cool week running on the trails of, and with,
champions. Thanks to Brent and his crew of Kyla, Flo, and
Josh for putting us up!
While I’m busy thanking folks, I’d really
like to thank those of you who have sent a dog sponsorship
this year. We’ll get the site updated soon to show who you
are. I can’t tell you the difference your help makes in our
ability to do what we do. Thank you.
Also along those lines, look for a new
format blog on this site soon. I want to be able to update
more readily to keep you all in the loop. Soon…
All this training is obviously geared toward
the Yukon Quest for us, but we will also be running the
Copper Basin 300, starting January 9th.
I’m also considering running the GinGin 200 next week, now
that they have changed the course. I still hate that it’s
only a ten dog race and there are separate men’s and women’s
divisions, but I know the trail will be good as it can be
and John and Zoya do a nice job putting on a race. It starts
on the 28th, so we might be racing really soon. I guess that
means I better go get busy chopping some meat for trail
So, thanks for checking in with us. We wish
you all the peace, joy, and love you can handle this season.
Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year from TeamTsuga!!