Thursday, February 12, 2009

Chasing the Moon

On Tuesday I took 12 dogs for a 40 mile run. Knowing from the day before, that the trails were still quite unpacked, I predicted a long and tough training for all - the huskies and myself.

The 40 mile loop leads over two small ranges, and is a constant up and down. The climbing to the second range seemed never ending and the misty darkness that was falling on us made it even more endless. Jachym headed out before me with the snowmachine, to pack at least some centimeters, otherwise we would still be out there now.

The trails on the second range were totally blown over since we haven´t been on this loop for quite a while. There was at least 60cm of snow.

As we reached the top, the moon started gaining on intensity and worked it´s way through the mist and clouds, that changed the day´s earlier blue and bright sky. Couple stars showed up. I snacked the dogs before the 10 mile stretch, copying the summit, and they laid down to rest, while I drank my new favourite drink - soup from the thermos (We found a new source in our local store, of instant soups of many different kinds such as chicken noodle soup, asparagus soup, spicey cheese and onion, and several more exotic types - they taste great!).

As you can notice on the picture above, Ziggi and Music were in lead. The original plan was to have Tazlina lead and teach Music a bit, as he is showing some promise lately. But Taz wouldn´t have any of that, and refused to run less then 100 meters from the start, so I put her in point and switched her for Ziggi. Now, we created the most funny couple and leading pair we ever ran - the biggest, most leggy dog in our yard (Music is nearly 63cm high) and the most tiny, short legged, 52cm Ziggi. They did a great job, I must say! Ziggi never seems to have problem with her size and is one heack of a tough dog, very driven and fast, and keeps up beautifuly with anybody. Music is such an honest worker, that he seems not to be bothered much by which position one puts him to run at. He seemed a bit tired toward the end of the run mentally, but who wouldn´t be after a really tough training and quite a bit of trailbreaking. Given the fact that this was his third time in lead totally, and first time on such distance, he did really good and far better than I expected. I was very proud of the boy!

The 10 mile stretch over the summits is my most favourite part of that loop, but at night it isn´t as spectacular, as you don´t see the little lakes and hills on the other side of the valley. Yet it was a beautiful feeling, driving far from home, in the middle of wilderness. One meets up with the spirit of one´s self and of the dogs.
As we silently drove, Comet and some other dogs spotted something on one side of the trail, and speeded up. I held on to the handlebar, as a few minutes ago, there were ptarmigans flying out from the snow banks, so I expected another animal. But the dogs were amazed and determined to catch something else - a big orange, perfectly round thing that sat on the horizon. The team wanted to catch the moon! :) It was so close, you could almost touch it. It just roze from the horizon and cleared up as the clouds faded. A beautiful memory that will remain forever.

The run down to the valley took mabye less than third of the time we needed to climb up and the dogs were rolling merrily towards home. Despite I could see they were getting tired (in their eyes and the way they laid down to rest every time we stopped for snacking), they kept on going with tight tugs all the way and speeded on easier stretches.
Only Comet was really tired, although tried to keep up with the team as much as she could. At one point I thought of putting her in the sled to rest, but she always tried to pull as hard as she could and kept going forward. She didn´t want to leave the team. She wore booties on her hind feet from the beginning, but when I checked the dogs´ feet in the middle of the run, I noticed she had quite sore front feet. I bootied her, but I think the damage was already done. She didn´t limp once. Comet showed me some real guts and toughness she inherited from her mom, and I think she will be a great demendable dog to have in the main team next season. This run showed though, that it may just be a bit too much for her yet, to ask her keep up with the mainstring this season.

The run took us long 6 hours and 30 minutes, and it was a good test of toughness of the dogs that run in the mainstring at the moment.
And who were the athletes this time?


You can find some pictures from the run here:

Happy Trails,

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Gwen said...

Nice to see such a promising boy in lead, Katerina! :)

Katerina said...

You had a good feeling about him, when you visited last fall! :)