Sunday, November 21, 2010

keep your EYES on the 'Prize'

'If you never learn to have fun then winning is but a mirage in one's mind...'

The beauty of being a huge mess is that I can admit my mistakes w/ out worrying about protecting my public image. No other musher in the history of our sport has had a more controversial, roller coaster ride of a career than yours truly. Never really thought of myself as a 'professional' dog musher, just a kid discovering the wilderness on a daily basis. Is that not what this life is all about? Believe me our personal world is far more tantalizing a subject than anything we might have been a part of in the racing scene over the years. After all this boy did not migrate north from Chicagoland in '95 in search of being some 'championship dogmusher'- I just want to be a DAWG.

Can old dogs learn new tricks? This season we will once again be trying to solve this never ending question. If yesterday morning's run was any indication there is still a huge learning curve to overcome. My biggest weakness? Controlling our energy! The team yesterday consisted of Annie in lead w/ her son Geronimo followed by Jewel and Jester, Juanita and Amigo, George and Joker, and in wheel Jericho and Alfie. (Tamra named this one of course) For me ten dogs is usually the bare minimum I like to sled with yet sometimes...
Flying out of the yard and down the lake the 'Army' was possessed as usual, I've never had a bunch that was so consistently lunging at their harnesses- 'getting at it'. This time of year the trails can be a bit dangerous as I was about to find out. Folks think the Quest and Iditarod are tough? Mother Nature tests us every day around these parts.

A few miles from home we have a couple of stream crossings to deal with. The first creek is rather small with lil' too worry about, the 2nd waterway? It be a bit treacherous at times. Yesterday we rounded the trail as I immediately realized that overflow had enhanced the degree of difficulty in crossing the 50 foot wide swath of semi-frozen water. Our man made wooden bridge was the only way to stay above the thinly iced over h2o. We did make it across safely- unfortunately I was the one not lucky enough to be standing. The Dog team had hurtled my body over the terrain sideways as I desperately struggled to hold on to the tipped over sled. First we plowed through some bushes, seconds later I ricocheted off of a tree finally letting go after my hand slammed into the wood. "Annie! Stop!!!! Annie, Annie!!!!"

Never a good feeling losing a dog in the woods let alone a dogteam. Fortunately we were close enough to the house that I threw off my outer clothing and began running home to retrieve our snowmachine. Soon I was covered in sweat, fifteen minutes passed by when I suddenly noticed a car by the road, some folks were out weekend snowshoeing in the hills. They were kind enough to drive me the remaining mile or so home. I immediately notified Tamra, then scampered back with Peter in search of our lost buddies. Fortunately the pooches had only traveled another mile or so from where I had wiped out on the icy stream. I immediately gave Peter a high five! We were lucky- and now I became totally amazed. Housing various teams in dog pens living as one entity was paying off with positive results.

This was not the 1st time I've ever had to track down a dogteam before. Heck, I ran after my Quest squad two years ago after losing the sled just outside of Dawson. With the amount of miles we've traveled over the last decade these eyes have witnessed all kinds of shennanigans on the trail. What amazed me however was that though the team was in a tangled mess of twisted up necklines and tuglines not one piece of rope or dog harness had been chewed. Everyone was healthy though the sled had a few additional wounds. Geronimo was whining away, 'What's going on? Why have we stopped- where were you Boss?' We immediately undid their tugs and stretched out the gangline though this process took just as long as it did for me to retrieve the snowmachine. I was a bit nervous watching Annie's Army jumping up and down in anticipation of setting off once again. Me? well the knee was throbbing and I was still in shock from our morning's ordeal but real humans overcome obstacles, whining about personal pains just isn't the way my daddy brought me up to live.

The remaining 25 miles of yesterday's run was pure heaven as is typical. Though the first few miles can be challenging once you have made it through life's adversities their are so many hidden treasures to discover that are removed from the ways of the 'civilized world'. Lesson learned? Well, it actually gave me an idea. Now that we have tracking beacons on our sleds for races so that spectators can follow on the computer where we are at- why not use one in the sled in training too? All is well that ends well but we should have emergency plans, knowing which neighbors to contact when sudden crises arrive etc. If we are not willing to learn from past mistakes than the chances of ever evolving are minimal at best.

Time to feed the pooches, for soon we shall fly once again...HHN


At 1:49 AM , Blogger NCL said...

Great lessons for students!

At 9:42 AM , Blogger Mushing Kodi said...

Great blog post! :)

At 9:35 AM , Blogger Ute said...

Thank you so mush! How comforting it is to know that this even happens to the best ones! I will never again be ashamed when I run through the forrest yelling "Ronja!!! Kayleigh!!! Stop! Stoooppp!! Rooonjaaaa!!!!!" :)


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