Saturday, March 28, 2009

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained...

"Where do we go? Nobody knows. I've got to say I'm on my way.. God gave me style and gave me grace. God put a smile upon my face..." - ColdPlay
Hey y'all,
Considering that in the last 2 races we went 'south' in the end- for some reason we feel quite happy and content. Unless one has the opportunity to play with dozens of amazing canine athletes on a daily basis it's hard to imagine how lucky a boy named Hugh is. While some try to compare me with other mushers, I've long known that I'm one of a kind. I'm not seeking to brag here, it's just that this world of mine has been rather bizarre over the last decade. Like I said to Lance a few days ago, "Sure feels good to be back in the dogyard, doesn't it?" "Sure does Hugh."

Leaving in the morning for Fairbanks. Easiest to contact me thru e-mail. So far there are 10 teams entered with a 12,000 dollar purse. The Cadzows have been amazing getting everything organized, everyone in Fort Yukon seems quite excited as well. Should be fun to see some new land, want to check out where ArchDeacon Hudson Stuck is buried as well. Pretty amazing what that fella did back in the early 20th century. Heading to Alaska's Interior, Hugh

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Like a Dawg without a Bone...

"I keep a close watch on this heart of mine..." -Johnny
Windy as ever around here. Hope all is well in your worlds. Will be at the lake til Sunday then back to Fairbanks and on to Fort Yukon April 1st for the race. All mushers are invited, if interested send me an e-mail for more info. Playing with pups around the homestead as well as loving up all of our older retired dogs have issues with us not bringing them to Nome this year. Our kennel is overflowing with amazing pooches right now. We're looking for qualified handlers next year to race either the Quest or Iditarod- if you know of anyone please feel free to pass on the news.
Speaking of media we were watching the Iditarod at our friend's place in Anchorage. Man, now I see why folks tend to think I'm a bit of a jerk. Hopefully Jeff King is wise enough to realize that what I said in Takotna was in jest and not a direct insult to him as a person. Lord knows there's alot about him that is praiseworthy. I just did'nt want to have to walk too far to feed the dogs and eat my food. Besides Sebastian was parked right next to me- always enjoy watching him, so much to learn, he's like a 'mad-doggie' scientist.
Of all the blunders I've had over the years not writing a book is my greatest sin. Hopefully we'll be able to rectify the situation soon after we have enjoyed such an interesting season. We do have a kids book available, it's called: Annie, My Life on the Trail so Far... The amazing thing is that she wrote it 2 years ago as a pup and now she's one of the top Doggie Divas on the Planet-that's my girl!
I will be writing a detailed account of our journey this past month that you all will be able to read for free on our website. Portions of it will be previewed on our blog as well. Considering there are numerous souls who travel our northern race trails I find no reason to be making $ off of others' predicaments. Why not just enjoy the overall spirit of life up here in the North? School Tour dates in May will not be finalized until I return from Fort Yukon next weekend. This year's theme is "Welcome to My House-The Doghouse". We will have dog pix available as well as posters, shirts, etc. There has been quite a high demand this year so if your school/community group would like to enjoy the show please let us know asap. We are more likely to visit areas where there are the most groups of interest. Looking forward to meeting many new friends in the weeks to come, Hugh

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dealing with an Eruption of ENERGY

"Now I don't know but I've been told- you never slow down, you never grow old..." - Mr. Petty
Hey y'all,
A quick hello from Anchor town. Our flight from Nome was diverted to Fairbanks Sunday. We were lucky enough to borrow Lester Erhart's dogtruck and shared an enjoyable trip down here with Hans Gatt, his gal Susie and Mr. Gerry Willomitzer. A major part of the mushing world is dealing with obstacles while staying positive. Whether it's 60 mph winds or a massive volcanic eruption, Mother Nature always reminds us on a daily basis how fragile our precious lives truly are. Speaking of which the face is fine but much more importantly all of the dogs are well and ancy to return home.
After a few days rest we'll be heading to Fort Yukon to participate in our 300 mile fun run. Anyone interested in joining the festivities is more than welcome- feel free to contact us for more info. All participants will be receiving prize $ to help pay for travel expenses. It's about time we all pay tribute to what mushing competitions should be more focused on: the Dawgs, the land and having fun! For all of you teachers we will begin finalizing our May school tour dates once I get home in a few days. It takes a bit of time each year to figure out the best route. A reminder that we're more likely to visit your area if there is more than one school/group interested in our presentation. Maestro, an eight year old who has finished nine 1,ooo milers will be this year's featured pooch. What a beautiful beast he is- you'll see! Enjoy the view, Hugh
p.s.: I promise a more detailed account of this season's adventures once we have a bit of time to reflect over everything.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Resting on the 24

So it looks like Hugh and the team are completing their 24-hour layover in Takotna. After last years problems that happened when Hugh decided to go to Cripple before 24ing he was leaning heavily to staying in Takotna this year. I've also heard there's 2.5 ft of new snow on the trail between Takotna and Ophir. I'm sure if the mushers hear this there won't be anyone going far for their 24s this year.

Hugh has dropped 2 dogs so far, both back in Rainy Pass. I've looked at the videos and it looks like Shifter and Scotty are no longer in the team. They still haven't arrived in Anchorage so I don't know why they were dropped. Scotty finished the Quest this year so maybe he didn't recover as quickly for this race although he looked good in the training runs. Shifter is a bit of a disappointment. We just got him from Lance before the Quest. He had a medical issue that required that he be neutered right away. He was recovered for Iditarod and seems like a great dog. Maybe having a couple of weeks off before the race affected his performance. The other possibility is that these two got in a fight that required they both be dropped. They're both dominant males so this wouldn't surprise me. I just hope they're ok and wish they'd hurry up and get here.

People have been concerned that Hugh is so far up in the standings. Just because he hasn't finished higher than 19th before doesn't determine how he should finish this year. Anyone who's seen his team this year knows that he is a contender in this race. I enjoy reading the updates from musher's wives, however they always seem very biased. Musher's aren't allowed to call home during the race because of the trackers so the only people that really know what is going on are on the trail and in the checkpoints. I won't speculate on what Hugh or anyone else is thinking or planning because I really don't know. I know he said before the race that he would just be travelling until they got to the river. He said this again in Nikolai. I don't think he's really pushing or overdoing it, but I do think they're doing really well. Looking at the team running which is the most important they were loping on the trail in Rainy Pass which is a good sign at this point in the race.

Lots of people have asked what changes have contributed to thier sudden improvement from last year to this year. One factor would be food. We've been feeding Redpaw kibble since last summer and adding good quality beef and beef fat this fall and winter. You could see an improvement in thier coats, stools and attitudes as soon as we changed kibbles. I think you can tell from these two photos of Delilah, the first from Iditarod last year. She's the blonde one. Last year her coat was coarse and brittle. The second photo is from the Quest this year. Her coat is shiny and bright now. The dog next to her in both photos is her brother Wild Bill.

They're also great photos so I wanted to share them. The other factors are that Hugh didn't do tours this summer in Juneau or Skagway. The dogs didn't get bummed out sitting in the rain and didn't have to do repetitive half mile runs 10 times a day. Instead they stayed at home, went on free runs, went swimming, and had fun. We were able to start training in August because the weather was cool. Previously we couldn't start until mid October because of the tour schedule. We also had great help this year. Juho is from Finland and has been a great handler. He started in September and ran half the dogs all year with Hugh. He completed the Gingin 200 and the Quest 300. Hugh has 5 of the dogs from his Quest 300 team on his Iditarod team this year. With over 40 dogs in training this year having an extra musher really helped. Now he's qualified to run both the Iditarod and the Quest. We hope he's been bitten by the mushing bug and will come back next year. We also have Boris who started with us in late December. Boris is from Belgium and has been running the pups and some of the other dogs in the yard. He'll be with us until April at least so he's been holding down the fort while we're away. Boris has been a great help with the dogs and with food drops and his English is coming along great. Anyway, what else. I think this year we have a great team of dogs. The majority are from our own litters. There's three families: Annie, Watson and Walter, the three main leaders and their mom Colby; Nathan, Sydney and Spencer are 3 and this is their second year of racing. Wild Bill, Delilah, Tyler and Tolliver are just 2.5 but this is their 2nd year and they are an amazing litter - full of energy. We also found out they have really big hearts which helps their endurance. There's also Wonka (his 3rd race as a 3 year old), Amos (from K. Anderson), Mahoosic (his 6th Iditarod), Scotty and Shifter (mentioned above). All in all an experienced, yet youthful team. Looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.


Saturday, March 07, 2009

You've got the music in YOU...

"Cause I'm as free as a bird now, and this bird you cannot tame..." - Lynrd Skynrd
Quite the ride,
Pat Barrett was our Iditarider, she's a good friend from Bethel. Mike Ellis, a fellow Quest veteran was running our 2nd sled. Though a bit warm it was a beautiful sunny day for an enjoyable seven mile run around Anchorage. Before the team set off we had a bit of a fracas when 6 or 7 policemen swarmed around our sled. Apparently some chick named Palin was on the other side of the fence from our area and needed to be protected from our dogs. Talk about spending the tax payers' dollars wisely.
A bit of a traffic jam on the trail though it was fun to hang out with my buddies Ken and Aaron for a bit. Had a chance to talk with Lance at the finish as well. His team nearly got nailed by a moose - he used a huge tree branch to ward off the enraged creature. Imagine being an animal hanging out in the woods and suddenly 70 dogteams show up out of nowhere. Oh well, just another day up here in Alaska. The show shall soon be under way. I'm not promising anything. The pooches are worthy of endless praise, yours truly is the one who needs to come to terms with who he is and what this life is really all about. We'll see..
Enjoy the view, Hugh and The Laughing Eyes Kennel Crew

Friday, March 06, 2009

"Are we humans?- or are we Dancers?"

" Fly like an Eagle to the sea, fly like an Eagle- let my spirit set me free..." -- Steve Miller Band
You all ready for this?
I know we are. We shall be leaving the starting chute # 55. The Quest is over- let's get past all of that nonsense and on to the real deal. Don't feel sorry for us, we're loving life right now. Dogs look wonderful- right now I'm more concerned with Tamra and my state of health. We've both been quite sick since the end of the Quest and are now taking antibotics as well as oil of oregeno to deal with our hacking coughs and stuffed up sinuses. (Any other remedies out there?)
Annie, Walter, Watson and the rest of the gang are revved up and ready to roll. Our Iditarod team this year basically consists of 3 families of pooches as well as Scotty a veteran pooch we bought off of Lance a few years back and 'famous Amos' - a Ken Anderson pooch. 8 of the dawgs just came off of the Quest, 5 were on Juho's 300 team. It's a youthful unit with lots of energy. Hopefully they'll adapt well to a trail that's sure to be quite punchy. The next week or so will be quite a slog probably. It's been snowing on and off here in Anchorage though the temps. were a bit cooler this morning. Just finished an interview with Annie from APRN, a local radio show, out in our host family's backyard with the pooches. Always enjoyable to promote our sport/lifestyle in a positive light. That's why the Quest saga was such a sad predicament- life goes on. Listen, Learn, Live... HHN

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Magic Within

"And the men who hold high places must be the ones to start, to mold a new reality closer to the heart." --Rush
Hey Everyone,
Hope all is well in your worlds. Had a nice run with the pooches in Knik this morning. Spent last night at our friend Ray Redington's. Down in Anchorage tonite then back to Wasilla for race testing tomorrow. We wanted to put out a brief statement 'for the record' so that people who inquire about the Central incident have a reference point. First off I have no ill feeelings towards any of the race officials. They tried their best under unusual circumstances. I have no regrets taking the better conditioned trail- dawgs welfare always is 1st. Central isn't what forced us to finish in 2nd place. Spending 7-8 hours stranded on Eagle summit is what set the score. For the upper half of the Mountain not to be marked properly is unforgivable. Why do we have an entrance fee- to be toyed with? Sure, there were tripods yet without reflectors they were useless in the dark. John Little and myself had to wait til dawn before we we could discern where the actual trail was. At the same time a snowmachiner arrived from 101 telling us that he had been instructed not too worry about putting in trail, "It had already been taken care ofweeks ago." Anybody realize the leaders of the race are hunkered down in the middle of a blizzard here? Considering the snow was up to your knees, surviving this ordeal was certainly something that should have been avoided. I'm just glad it was veteran mushers there and not a bunch of rookies. I would later learn that the trail people had reflectors with them but had not put them up. They were too busy trying to save back of the packers from scratching- good luck! Anybody worried about how the folks up front are being taken care of? The Quest is what it is- that's why I love it so much- it reminds me of myself. So much unfulfilled potential. Just so sad when a dog race is decided not by the dog teams or mushers but outside human error. Hopefully someone owns up to this error rather than hoping it's just forgotten about. Life presses on however.
Pooches are looking beautiful while Tamra and I are hopefully getting over a nasty case of the flu. The next dance begins this weekend. Time to paint another pretty picture, one to last a lifetime. Peace, Hugh and The Laughing Eyes Kennel Crew
p.s.; receiving numerous inquiries about our race on April 1st, the Yukon River Flats 300. Contact Josh Cadzow in f-banks for more info.