A Musher's Day

Sometimes, on the weekends, I like to sleep in. Especially when I stay up until 2 AM working on a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle (uhh yea). And especially when I know it’s going to be under 50 degrees the following day, and I don’t have to head out at the crack o’ dawn to run dogs.

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Sometimes, the dogs miss that memo. Thankfully, they did let me sort of sleep until around 9:30 AM (as you can see in the second photo). They didn’t make it easy, though.

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So off we went to Six Mile Run in Somerset, NJ. We also ran there last weekend, which went pretty well. I scoped this trail out quite a bit during our hikes this past summer, and I realized it would be pretty decent for running the dogs. It’s primarily used by mountain bikers, and there’s quite a bit of trail I simply can’t do with the dog cart. Lots of steep, rocky, root-filled declines and inclines. Nevertheless, there’s still a few good miles of beautiful scenery, and it’s only 30 minutes away from home. The Pine Barrens, on the other hand, take over an hour and a half to drive down to. As much as I love the Pines, it’s tough on my sleep schedule and my wallet.

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Today was actually the first time I drove out somewhere to run the dogs completely alone. Usually, I meet up with other mushers, or I bring someone with me to help. This time, it was just me, the dogs, and the woods (and the occasional mountain biker).

I love introducing people to mushing. I’m also extremely grateful to have the Jersey Sands mushers to meet with and exchange knowledge. But there’s something really satisfying about heading out and doing this on my own sometimes.

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I also love taking the dogs to trails they don’t know. It’s great practice for commands, since they don’t automatically know which way to turn. Last weekend, Denali showed how young she still is by not really listening to me. Well, she did , just on her own accord. Today was much better – she listened to all my commands with barely any hesitation.

Last weekend, we were out on the trail for almost an hour, even though we didn’t really go that far. My friend, Rob, was riding with me so the dogs had to work a bit harder.

They only had me to lug around today, so we did about the same distance in half the time.

I’m hoping I can bring them out to another new trail soon. I’d like to load the cart up with treats (the dog kind and the human kind) and water, and just run for hours. It’s tough to find those kinds of trails close by, though. Only in the Pines (where I think we’re headed tomorrow) or out of state, it seems.

Jessica Kizmann

Dog musher, New Jersey.