Monday, April 09, 2007

As we Seek, so shall we find...the journey continues on...

Greetings from Kotzebue!
We finished up the 440 yesterday afternoon finishing 9th out of 18 teams. Though hoping to do better as any musher will tell you, I was quite pleased with the pooches performance. Of the nine finishers we had one rookie, one yearling and 2 two year olds. Kotz can be quite a demanding race with five 80 plus mile runs, though our youngsters Annie and her brother Watson had already completed the race to Nome as well.

Annie (right) and Omen - the leaders into Nome

Now lil' Miss Annie might have a book written about her but Watson has been the true workhorse this year finishing both 1,000 mile races as well as two other mid-distance races (Kusko and Cantwell). My main man of the future not only finished every race as a two year old-- he finished in the LEAD position.

Watson (front) in red harness with Nova at start of Iditarod

Can't help but put a smile on one's face as we marvel at the brutish raw strength of these magnificent lil' furballs of faith. That's why the whole key to mushing is keeping them happy. Some folks might look at us as competitors, I prefer the term 'artist'-- I'm just trying to paint as pretty a picture as possible every time we suit up to hit the trail.

Annie on one of her runs around the house

What was really great about this year's race was that the average age of the top 5 mushers was nearly 60 years old- made me realize that I'm still just a pup. With the likes of Rick Swenson, Louie Nelson, Martin Buser and Gerry Riley among others there's plenty of mushing wisdom and stories to soak up. Mark May, whose father Joe won the Iditarod, was our trail veternarian. We enjoyed sharing old tales from the trail. Chuck Schaefer, the race marshall instructed all of us to have fun because that's what mushing is all about - I'd make sure to remind myself of this notion whenever the muscles became sore or swollen. After all the body's been through the last several months a few weeks recovery is just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately 'recovery' for me includes two days travel getting home then an intensive puppy training program the rest of the month - training up in the mountains near our home anywhere from 20- 30 miles every other day. This year I've always been focused on getting ready for the next leg of the journey. It'll be fun training Omen's (our main leader) pups. A Lance Mackey pooch, she finished alongside Mr. Watson in lead with her usual lick on the face, "Hey boss where's the nearest available couch around here?"

Omen with Hugh in Nome

Kobuk 440 is school - not only about mushing but spirit. The friendly native souls met along the way in the villages of Kiana, Ambler, Shugnak, Noorvick and Selawik remind you that this life is what we make of it. We reap what we sow. All of us face challenges everyday though our greatest 'enemy' can usually be found right in the mirror. Over the years I've been fortunate to realize the power of seeking out one's weaknesses. Knowing yourself enables continual growth which is why I plan on smiling for some time to come. It's hard not to when one is lucky enough to witness the beauty not only of the north; her mysteries and people but of the beauty hidden within one's very own soul. Best be heading back out to the doglot now-- there's doggie massages to perform - don't ya think they're well worth providing?

Love to hear from ya, Hugh and the Laughing Eyes Kennel Crew


At 6:44 AM , Blogger John said...

Glad to see you guys are posting again. We followed you during the Quest and the Iditarod. We are so proud of you both and, of course, the dawgs. Omen is Awsome and Annie looks GREAT! So glad you are having a good season.

John and Susan Hawley


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