Saturday, February 28, 2009

The rest is still unwritten...

"Come as you are, as you were, as I want you to be..." -Nirvana
Hey everyone,
Snowing nicely here in Fairbanks. Been running a team each day around the course here. The Cadzow's race will be the 1st week of April- the Yukon Flats 300. We already have 10,000 for the purse, contact myself or Josh if you're interested in playing around with us. I think we have another obstacle course to master before we set out on this new trail. Enjoy the day, Hugh

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Memories in my Heart

"Now I don't know but I've been told- you never slow down, you never grow old"-- T. Petty
Been a flurry of activity around here since the Quest finished. Ran our other squad around the racegrounds yesterday. The german film crew taped our departure, hope to see them all again in Deutscheland soon. Juho's 300 squad looks nice. Along with a pooch from Lance, Shifter. The amount of power we have in the dogyard right now is unreal. Jason, Lance's brother just dropped off Superman for us to have as well. The amount of support we've recieved the last few days has been humbling- thanks to everyone for all of their 'well wishes' and prayers!
Unfortunately Tamra's been quite sick with some type of flu, coughing nonstop. Hopefully a few days of bedrest will rectify the situation. While in f-banks I'm having some additions placed on our racing parky and sledbag. (Also adding some new tunes to the ipod, after awhile the same music is a lil`unnerving on the endorphins) I have a feeling we're going to be getting alot of air time on the way to Nome. Will be giving a school presentation tomorrow for some kids at University Park, then will do a 50 miler on the Tanana out towards Nenana and back. Weather's been nice, warm with flurries. Let the Good Times Roll, HHN

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

And what a Show it is...

"The time to hesitate is thru, no time to wallow in the mire." - J.D. Morrison
Hey everyone,
Man, do I have some interesting Karma. The ying-yang of life. I'm out in the woods for 9 days rallying around with the pooches, jamming Johnny Cash on the Ipod, enjoying the stars above and a dogteam possessed with love. Yet, what will it all be remembered for? What a shame that a beautiful picture could be so tragically tarnished. Did I purposely travel down the road? You bet I did. My german friends who are making a television show were right there on the road asking me if they could film, then giving me the thumbs up. Considering that the road runs parallel to the trail in that section I really did'nt understand that using a different one just 20 feet next to it was such a major infraction. Does everyone think I'd be cheating while at the same time hamming it up for the cameras? As for what some of the nasty things I'm hearing- were you there? Or is this world all about judging others by what we here thru the grapevine. I could really care less, what matters is that I have one of the most beautiful dogteams in the world that continuously kept my eyes welled up with tears as they ripped apart the Quest race speed record. You like that my 'soul brother' Lance?
Should I have been punished for the 10-15 minutes I shaved off of William's lead- sure. In reality that type of difference in time with so many miles left is rather insignificant. A few years back Lance and myself were fined 500 each for camping on the trail near scroggie. I presumed this time it would be in the same category. 2 hours- you have got to be kidding me? Then I'm instructed to not talk to the media- the officials decision would be announced after we left. Could you please keep you girlfriend from complaining as well Hugh. Then he asks me to shake his hand. Have a good day and enjoy yourself on Eagle Summit. That's the tragedy for me of this race. Upon reaching the upper part of the mtn., braving a raging groundstorm by walking my leaders thru it, I suddenly found that the trail ended- there were no more reflectors to be found. Shivering to death I came to the realization that my life was in danger, my left foot began to freeze up- not again!
The next morning in the darkness, some 7 hours later John Little who had camped out a few hundred feet beneath, came up and we discussed whether we should activate his rescue beacon. No markers? What the heck- where are all of those famous new tripods? Finally as dawn broke we noticed there was one just above the ridgeline - we had actually been camping on the drifted over trail ( Does this mean another penalty?) It took awhile but just as we pulled the last of the pooches to the top Sebastian came flying up from down below with William in tow. A snowmachiner was breaking out a new trail by this time as well. He had been instructed earlier after inquiring wether or not trail was needed, not to worry about it, things had already been taken care of. Considering how bad things had been for us this fella seemed pretty perturbed about this unneccessary situation we had been forced to deal with. My boot tracks were everywhere in the 2 plus feet of snow. The major problem was the abscence of decent reflectors on the tripods. I can deal with a horrific night in the blistering winds but I pity the rookie musher who is found in the same situation, all we need is for somebody to die up there- it could happen ya know. More reflectors! I'll do it this summer myself if need be, maybe Brent Sass could be my sherpa. One or two tiny white relectors isn't visible from hundreds of feet away, those slabs of wood need to be shining like the Empire State building.
After all that has happened I expect folks felt that I would be a bit pissed yet my feelings are euphoric. The pooches and I enjoyed a lovely journey, the highlight was coming into Circle off of the Yukon river watching the auroras rip apart the nightsky above, all the while my friend Jim's voice mellifously spouts off, "Come on baby light my fire..." Shooting a documentary at Karl Cochrane's cabin was surreal as well. Though I disagree with my friend William Kleedehn on some issues it was awesome to travel with him- what an amazing man. Our leader Annie is a goddess in lead, what a creature to behold. All the pooches performed well, 2 year old, Delilah and Wild Bill were as goofy as ever. Walter (Annie's brother) was solid as well as Watson. Maestro a beautiful blonde seven year old male finished his 8th thousand miler. (Think about that for a second) His mom, June- Mari ran 9 of them.
We'll be staying up here at our buddy Sam's in the hills just outside of Fairbanks. Will be back on the runners tomorrow afternoon looking at some additional dogs for Iditarod though most of the Quest finishers will already have a slot ensured. Regrets, there's definately been one looking back now. Lil' did I realize my decision to run the team on the safer, non rutted out snowmachine trail would become such a tragic affair. Thankfully our dawgs don't understand all of the beuracratic b.s. associated with this race. All they'll ever know, and I mean EVERYDAY- is that they are true champions. Does the craziness ever end? HHN
P.S. : Congrats to my buddy Sebastian, sorry it had to be under these circumstances.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Keep Me Advised

"People say I'm crazy- but I'm not the only one..." -- John Lennon
Well, here we go again, numero 14. Been quite the wild ride since we started our 1st thousand mile race back in 2000. From 10 dogs leaving Fairbanks the journey has been unrelenting. So what's it like to be Hugh Neff? Let's just say there's been alot of smiles over the miles and alot of tears throughout the years. If people only knew how strange this life of mine truly is- I like to think that the Great Almighty gets a good chuckle watching our efforts, successes and failures. (as well as the rest of you)
This year there will be a film crew from Germany following us. They'll be having a 2 night show in April on Germany's version of BBC- an 85 million viewing audience. William Kleedehn and Kyla Boivin are the featured mushers as well. As many of you know just over a year ago my father passed away due to illness. Being of german descent I can only imagine what he would thought of all of this. Hopefully we can have a better performance than last season's charade. The pooches are happy and that's what matters the most. If I was a betting man I would'nt be wasting any hard earned $ on myself. We're just going to enjoy each night and day as they come. In the end it's really up to Walter and Watson- my 2-headed monsters up in lead, as well as their sister Annie. Ya know the last words my dad ever said to me were, "Keep me advised." Will do. Enjoy the show, HHN

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Preparing for the UNKNOWN

"I feel so extraordinary, something's got a hold of me. I've got the feeling I'm in motion- a certain sense of Liberty..." -- New Order
Happy February everyone,
Enjoyed a trip to visit our friend Steve Watson at Braeburn a few days back. This is the 1st checkpoint on the Quest trail. Was warm and windy on our way there though the return trip was - 35. Unfortunately I was unprepared for the nippy weather- a lesson well learned. My buddy Sebastian was out that evening and experienced the same feelings. Can you teach 'old dogs' like us new tricks? Mother Nature always has a way of letting us 'meager humans' realize our place in the world.
The trail from the river on was nice- some of the best snow I've seen. Presently we're still looking for a place to stay in Dawson, everything's already booked up. Sounds like this year's event is going to be a media frenzy- even by Quest standards. Still have lil' clue how the squad is coming together. Hoping to have a decent run with as large a group of pooches as possible. The nice factor of having raced so often is being a realist. Do the best with what you have. Realize how lucky you are to have the opportunity to do what you do. Other folks might be more blessed than you, don't worry about 'beating them' -just don't beat yourself.
Lots of folks coming into town. Bill Pinkham was out training with us. (before he left us in the dust) If any mushers participating in the races are reading this feel free to stop by next tuesday for Tamra`s b-day bash. The sauna will be hot, the bonfire will be large with much merriment to share-- isn`t that what the `mushing lifestyle' is all about? For directions send us an e-mail: HHN

Monday, February 02, 2009

Tramps Like Us...

"Someday now, I don't know when- we're gonna get to that place..." -- Da Boss
Ahhhh, how you all doing?
My aging body might feel a bit muscled up this morning but Quest food drops are finally finished. The Carbon Hill race was yesterday as well, a thirty mile loop around the Annie Lake area. Now in most 'sports' home field advantage usually helps a team's chances of performing well. In dogmushing however it can be quite the dilemma to have the pooches run by their warm houses with the smell of food in the air. Luckily for us our three squads eventually made it past our oasis and back on the trail to the finish line, some fifteen miles away. My squad's leader's Annie and her mom Colby swerved towards the house 3 times- they know where the couch is at. Juho and Boris each ran 8 dog teams that performed admirably. The temps. were in the high teens with flurries- nice mushing weather. A punchy trail ensured quality Quest training. A sunday morning 'church' service- northern style.

Juho's team coming off Annie Lake. This pic was on the cover of the Yukon News on Monday. Leaders Wild Bill and Wonka, followed by Delilah, Amigo, Denali, Tyler, Simba and Oscar.

The funnest part of the race was the last mile otherwise known as "No Man's Land". At this juncture of the race we merged with another trail that kids were having a skijoring race on. A ten year old punk on skis with two pooches pulling him was now hot on our heels. I urged the pooches on the last few minutes as this kid's fresh pooches slowly came up on our side. We would finally cross the finish line a second or so ahead of them. I could not help but giggle- we had finally 'met our match'. The dawgs were happy to be on a good snowpacked trail after all the nasty conditions we've experienced so far this year. It's interesting how we travelled all over Alaska looking for decent conditions and the very best were actually in our own back yard.
Immediately after the race commenced we flew back home to watch the Super Bowl- especially Bruce at halftime. We then jumped back in the truck to go to the award cermony- thankfully Tamra was there to accept our prizes because we were late. Boris finished 11th in his 1st race, Juho was 8th while my squad came in 3rd. (Crispin Studer won easily)I was happy with their performance considering a few of the pooches running we had just received recently from a friend in fairbanks to check out. It's always fun to watch the younger pooches experience their 1st race - as well as our 'handlers'. At Laughing Eyes Kennel we have one guarantee- when a person decides to stay with us for the winter- you will probably be running dawgs nearly everyday, and you will definately be racing as well! Because baby- they were Born To Run... HHN