Monday, June 25, 2007

Waiting impatiently for things to come in from the sea

Well, I still am waiting for the salmon to come in, and for Jim to get back from fishing. I spent my day off fishing, hiking through the wildflowers, and sitting on the beach. No one caught a fish yesterday at the Fish Creek fishing hole, so at least its not just me.

the Trail to the Beach

The New Cart

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Perserverance Trail Run

We all ran the Perseverance Trail Run yesterday. It was fun but I was a little disappointed in my performance. I had planned to do the 7 mile. You can decide during the run if you wold like to do the 2, 4, or 7 mile. When I got to the 4 mile turn around I noticed that I was in 1st for the women because I saw no women coming back down the hill. So I decided to do the 4 mile, that way I would get more points for the Empire Cup. When I started down the hill I was way ahead of all the women. Then in the last 1/4 mile this girl comes out of no where. We were both sprinting neck and neck, pushing each other. I have mentioned before how I am nervous running down hill and this run is not only downhill, but steep and rocky too. It was fun actually racing someone, but she ended up beating me by 3 seconds. I still won my age group, she was only 24, but I only got 2nd overall women. Oh well. Now I am all pumped up to train harder, so it is probably a good thing.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Fishing and pups

Things are still going great here at camp. Were are fairly busy and the weather has been pretty nice for Southeast. Jim has left for his first fishing trip and will be gone about a week. On my day off we went out and bought me a fishing pole, and Jim showed me a couple of fishing holes, I have been going out after work and trying to catch some King Salmon. They haven't started running quite yet but I have been checking every night . It would be nice to catch so

All of the dogs are really bulking up nicely. Almost every dog has had to move up a size for their harnesses to fit. This job is just so good for the dogs. It really gives them an advantage for when they start fall to bring back to camp and hopefully enough to store for winter too.

I think the "pups" (the 10 mos.) are almost ready to try a stab at lead. So far I think that Meade and Apollo are doing the best. But really all of them are doing well.


Mir doesn't like running towards the front of the team, so I will wait awhile before trying her. Who would have guessed? When she was younger, she
definitely was the one displaying the most leader qualities. Because of the repetition of the tour it is a nice place to start training leaders. They gain confidence running in front of all of the dogs. They have the routine down so they are set up for success.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sheep Creek Dominates the Race Scene!!!!!!!

Running down a dream

One of the questions I often get asked on my tours is "What do mushers do to get in shape for racing?" Many mushers do not do anything at all. I however, run. My main objective is not to get in shape for my races, though it certainly helps, but rather because I enjoy it. I always have played sports and I think it is very important to stay active. Running is great because it is full of personal goals that you can tackle, though I enjoy being a integral part of a team in group sports. It is nice to participate in something where the outcome is solely dependent on you. It helps give me perspective on the dogs when the are running. Perhaps they think similarly as we do when giving it all and pushing it. I have been running in races for a few years now, every year I improve just a little bit. Last year I took second in the Empire Cup in my age class, a cumulative points competition here in Juneau, where you receive points at every race dependent on how you place. I want to win this year.

Yesterday was my first race, and it was awesome because everyone here at camp participated. It was a 5K (3.2 miles). The first mile was uphill, then we ran down a boardwalk call "the flume" leftover from one of the gold mines. Then by some of the nice house in town. It was a great run. I was in first place for the women for the first half, but then I was passed by a woman when we started running downhill. I have to admit I get a little nervous running downhill, I keep repeating in my head, "If I twist my ankle, I can't run dogs." So I am a little conservative on the down hills. So I took second overall for women, and first in my age class. Actually every single one of us here at camp placed either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in our age group. Awesome! We were pretty pumped. Now we are all psyched for the next run which is the Perseverance Trail Run. You can run a 2, 4 or 7 mile. It is up and back down a mountain. Last year I did the 4 miler, but this year I am going for the 7. I actually already ran the trail last week. It was nice, but there was some much snow up top I wasn't able to go on the last 1/8 mile. Hopefully it will melt in time for the race.

Check Southeast Road Runners website some time. The link is over on the sidebar.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Leo saves the day

On our tours, we stop halfway to tell our guests about mushing positions and commands. This gives the other team time to catch up to the turn around so that we don't have any head on passes. Yesterday while we were stopped my both of my leaders got loose and ran off ahead down the trail.

I was explaining, ".....the dogs behind the lead dogs are called swing dogs...."

Mid-sentence one of my guests spoke up, "Your swing dogs just got promoted."

I turned around to see Ursa and King running off in the distance.

Nicole, my handler and I went up to rearrange the dogs. I had Leo and Satellite in swing. Leo is one of my main leaders at home, but for some reason during tours he doesn't like to lead. I guess because it not the "real deal." Last year King did the same thing but this year King doesn't mind at all. Go figure dogs. I have plenty of leaders so its not a big deal.

Satellite is one of my 10 month old puppies in training this year. And though I had her up there to get used to being up front it was only her second time in swing. I didn't feel like she was ready for lead.

I looked at Leo, "Okay buddy, you gotta pull through for me."

I moved him up to single lead, and explained to Nicole, "I don't know if this is going to work."

Of course I knew we would make back into the yard, its not like we are doing that last 100 miles of the Quest, but I wasn't sure of the mess that would go down in front of these guest that were there to witness our fine skills in the training and running of dogs. Leo looses his focus here during the tours. He turns around to pick up on the ladies and pick fights with boys.

I walked back to the cart and gave a "disclaimer" for Leo to my guests.

Instantly the cart started cheering, "YEAH LEO!!!!! Way to pull through for us!!!!"

As we headed down the trail everybody keep cheering and yelling for Leo, " GO LEO GO!!!! TWO FOUR SIX EIGHT!!!!!! Who do we appreciate LEO!!"

As we pulled into the yard everybody was watching us because we were making such a ruckus, wondering what was going on. Nicole and I were on the back of the cart laughing hysterically.

As we pulled to a stop everyone ran up and hugged and petted Leo. He looked so proud. I'm not sure if he knew what he did or not. Thanks to my guests for giving so much encouragement. I can't wait to try him in lead to see if my guest helped train him to lead on tours again.

Thanks also to all our guest who have contributed the Cosmic Canines through tips and donations. We already have over $500 saved up in our 2007-2008 race fund. It is much appreciated!!!!

PS: Ursa and King made it home fine without us. I made them lead the next tour, the whole tour this time.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Back in Juneau

Hello everyone sorry it has been so long since an update.

We are happily back in Juneau at our summer camp. It’s nice to be back in our little paradise tucked in the Sheep Creek Valley. Tours are in full swing and we are a lot busier this year than last. Half of our crew returned this year, which is nice. Matt my handler hasn’t arrived yet but we expect him in about a week.

The massive amounts of snow Juneau received last winter (over 200 inches…they hogged all the snow this year, Fairbanks only received 28!) has slowed the greening our canyon, but slowly the Hellebore is growing tall and the wild geraniums and monkey flowers are blooming along the sides of the Sheep Creek Trail. The mountain goats are moving higher up the mountain, though they still can be spotted in the narrows. And our resident black bear, a young lanky thing, perhaps one of the cubs with his mother we spotted last year, has been hanging out on the hill above camp. He is easy to spot silhouetted against the snow chutes that still come down the mountain. They are melting fast though. The waterfall we like to stop and point out to our guest is slowly shedding its white cloak it falls behind. I remember hiking up to where it drops behind the snow last year. I was amazed at how far it went down. I stood where the water flowed out at the bottom of the massive snow cave. A cold wind blows from inside, like it’s kept there saved from the winter winds that are notorious up here. I will have to hike up there soon, but I am going to let it melt just a little more first.

I am also impatiently waiting to hike up to the top of Sheep Mountain, I have been eyeing the line of trail on the ridge, it seems the snow is getting closer to being safe. So my hikes have been limited so far to our valley. Yesterday morning I took the puppies, Pluto and Polaris, down to creek. I lay in the sun amongst the buttercups and starflowers, while they chased each other around, up and down the trail and through the salmonberry and currant bushes. They even went for a swim in the creek.

I ran up the Perseverance Trail last weekend, training for a race next week, there was still enough snow at the top ½ mile that I finally turned around. Part of the trail was even wiped out up there from a slide. So wonder if we are even going to be able to run the 7 mile race. They may have to shorten it.

Our trip down to Juneau was an adventure again, as it always goes when you travel with 33 dogs. Though it was a little more challenging this year because most of my females were in heat, it was a lot easier because I wasn’t traveling alone this year. Jim came down with us so he could start working on the boat. When we first arrived in Juneau we stayed over on Douglas Island to wait for the snow to melt up at Sheep Creek. We set up the Arctic Oven, a winter camping tent, about half way up the Eagle Crest Road. There was a real nice spot across a meadow, where the dogs could have some privacy. One of us Jim would let the dogs out of the truck and I would call them across to the other side of the meadow. It was fun watching them try to pick their way across the swamp, dodging water holes, and sometimes missing. I fell in one myself, I was up to my waist in snow melt!

We are busy saving up for this year’s race season. Both Jim and I will be racing so it should be a great year. Plus I am getting close to buying a large parcel of land 40 miles north of Fairbanks. It is located in a favorite training area in the White Mountains. Miles and miles of BLM maintained trails, with public use cabins scattered every 20 miles or so. It is southern facing hillside with a view of the Alaska Range. It should be perfect. Mushers all over the state go to the White Mountains to train their dogs. We are still working with the realtor at this time but we are getting pretty close to having our Cosmic Canine “Home base.”