In the tri-state area, mushing season usually begins sometime in late September and ends in March or April. Sometimes we’re lucky and we get a few random cold days in late August or into May—but those are not the norm. More frequent are the long stints of October where summer heat returns and training is sporadic. Things usually don’t get into a groove until November.
Then comes December. It's always a chaotic month. Work gets busy as we try to wrap up the year’s projects and cram everything into three weeks. Every weekend is devoted to holiday parties with friends or family. This year we’ve had random snow storms—of course, because my sled is currently in Big Bear, CA—and random warmups (it's supposed to be 60 degrees this weekend). I also fell off my rig and needed a few days to recoup. This all culminates in just a few runs so far this month and it's bumming me out.
I should note that unlike many of my musher friends, I am not training for a major race. I do set a mileage goal each season. Last year we reached (and surpassed) 200 miles; this year I hope to reach 300—but this is mostly for my own amusement. It keeps me motivated on those below freezing mornings when I'd rather stay in bed. It forces me to make the most out of the precious months we have to run.
We quickly hit the 100 mile mark this season, but things have slowed down. I have this ongoing guilt about it, as if I shouldn’t have so many dogs if I’m not running them at least three or four times a week. As I write this, they’re all comfortably snoozing around me. They’re happy and I should probably chill out.
Big Bear may not be as cold and snowy as the Northeast, but it’s way more consistent. Generally, we start running when temperatures are under 60 degrees with low humidity (many use the formula temperature + humidity < 100, you’re good to run). The sweet spot only really lasts a few months in the east, but the higher altitudes of SoCal seem devoid of humidity, with average lows in the 40s and 50s even in July. If I’m able to pull off night runs, this could mean mushing year-round.
So, for now, I won’t beat myself up. It’s time to enjoy friends and family while I’m still here.