North Country

We’ve made it to Wednesday; halfway through what might be our snowiest week so far this winter. Between Monday night and Friday morning, we were forecasted to receive two to three feet of snow. Just 30 minutes north of us might get more than five feet by the weekend. Holy hell.

So far, we’ve been lucky. The snow that fell Monday night through this morning was minor—less than 5” total. This is on top of what we already had, of course, so there are drifting areas around a foot deep. Today and tonight we should see more snow, but tomorrow seems like the worst of it. A slight shift in winds could mean snow up to my chest, so here’s hoping we avoid that.


I’ve been stressing about losing our home trail with all this snow we’re scheduled to get. It’ll be hard to re-break if it’s over the dogs’ heads. Maybe next season I’ll be able to pick up a used snowmobile for grooming around the property. For now, I can try to find a local rider, or pack the trails myself with snowshoes and my gear sled.

Thankfully, and also unfortunately, next week is expected to have another absurd warm-up. Sunday through Wednesday are predicted to be well above freezing, with rain and even above-freezing temperatures overnight. This will annihilate the snow and certainly lead to some flooding. So goes winter in New York state, I suppose. Hopefully we’ll be left with some packed, smooth trails.

On Monday morning, I took the dogs up to Winona State Forest to run on some wide, groomed trails. The Tug Hill Challenge (a sprint race) is held there, and it’s the reason I chose to move to this area. Though it’s been roughly eight years since my first visit, I finally mushed a team through this gorgeous forest.

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Getting to the trail went about as smoothly as I expected. The dog truck was prepped the day before and we woke up well before dawn to head out. Denali and Willow have already mastered their dog boxes. They’re used to being lifted into the top row of crates in the van, so going up just a bit higher into the boxes is natural for them. Hubble puts up a bit of a struggle (and stepped on my face), but I’ve been able to get him loaded with the help of some pepperoni. I didn’t even attempt to load Knox or Blitz this trip—they got to ride in the cab with me. I’m hoping that once they associate the truck with running somewhere new, they’ll be more confident about going into the boxes.

My intention was to run the 4.5 mile race course, but we ended up missing a few turns and going further. In hindsight, I’m glad we did, since we can run that distance back at the house and I’ve been itching to do a longer run. We did 7.5 miles in just under an hour, carrying about 50 pounds of weight in the sled. We also stopped quite a few times so that I could figure out where we were going. Not too shabby for five dogs on a brand new trail! I ended up a little bit late for work, but I’m glad we got this run in before the work of roof raking, snow shoveling, path clearing, and snowblowing eats up my free time.

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