dog mushing

Home Again

Looks like the Icelandic weather followed me home! I expected the trails in the Pine Barrens to be clear this morning, but there was still a decent amount of snow. Probably should’ve brought the sled instead, but we made it through!

Looks like the Icelandic weather followed me home! I expected the trails in the Pine Barrens to be clear this morning, but there was still a decent amount of snow. Probably should’ve brought the sled instead, but we made it through!

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On board a Dog Sled

Photo by Teresita.

Photo by Teresita.

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Neighborhood Mushing

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Just a Frosting

We finally got a little snow to mush on! Not enough for sleds, but enough to make the dogs very happy.

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Up before the Sun

Hot breath on a cold morning.

Hot breath on a cold morning.

 

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Beginnings

As the old year closes and the new begins, we often talk about goals and resolutions. I have my own set of personal achievements to strive towards this year, but I think now would be a good time to write about my mushing goals.

Every season, I set a goal at around 150 total miles. We generally start running in October, and continue up until late March, weather permitting. This gives us six solid months to accrue distance. If we’re lucky, we get a head start in late September, and run into April. Either way, 150 miles is a pretty attainable goal.

As of January 1st, 2015, we have around 83 miles in the books. Dexter is behind with only about 70 miles, since I didn’t run him in our first race and he’s had a minor paw pad injury this past week. I’m not too sure about his future in mushing, since the pups have definitely hit their peak and run much faster than he does now. I don’t want to force him to run, but I’d hate to leave him behind. We’ll see how he does after a week of rest. Hopefully we’ll see some snow this season, which he does run better in.

I’ve got a few other mushing related goals I’d like to accomplish, for this year and the future:

  • Purchase an Arctis Cart (slated for Summer of this year)
  • Dryland mushing roadtrip 
  • Stay in a cabin with mushing trails in the vicinity
  • Overnight mushing trip (mush to a spot, pitch a tent, then mush back the following day)

If anyone has any suggestions for those last there, please let me know! They’re not really activities I’ll be able to do around New Jersey, so any advice is appreciated.

Have a happy 2015!

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you – beyond that next turning of the canyon walls. 

― Edward Abbey

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Truckin'

We’re still here, trucking along. Our first race is this weekend (the Betty Carhart Memorial Race) and we’ll be competing in the 2-dog pro bike-jor class. I’ve decided to sit Dexter out for this first race, since he’s a bit slower than Denali and Knox. Normally, I really don’t care about speed, but I’d like to see what my youngsters can do without having to keep Dexter’s pace. Should be a fun weekend!

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Back where I Belong

After almost a week in Texas, I was super excited to return home to frigid Jersey and hit the trails. This weekend looked promising, but fell through.  

 Saturday’s run was botched when I stayed out late Friday night. I did manage to take each dog for solo bikejoring runs. They definitely need to brush up on their commands. I’m hoping that if I train them individually, some of that will carry over into team runs. 

 Sunday we were packed and ready to go. Woke up at dawn, but Knox just seemed off. He’s generally a weird dog, but he had been acting funny all weekend. I narrowed it down to his mouth being sore, but I couldn’t find any cuts, nothing lodged, no broken teeth.  

 I decided to stay home and let him rest. He ate breakfast and started to act playful, so we did a brief run around our local trails. He pulled hard as heck and seemed feel just fine.  

 I’ll be keeping a close eye on him and if he’s not back to his normal-weird self by tomorrow, a vet visit will be in order. Fingers crossed for my little dude!

After almost a week in Texas, I was super excited to return home to frigid Jersey and hit the trails. This weekend looked promising, but fell through.

Saturday’s run was botched when I stayed out late Friday night. I did manage to take each dog for solo bikejoring runs. They definitely need to brush up on their commands. I’m hoping that if I train them individually, some of that will carry over into team runs.

Sunday we were packed and ready to go. Woke up at dawn, but Knox just seemed off. He’s generally a weird dog, but he had been acting funny all weekend. I narrowed it down to his mouth being sore, but I couldn’t find any cuts, nothing lodged, no broken teeth.

I decided to stay home and let him rest. He ate breakfast and started to act playful, so we did a brief run around our local trails. He pulled hard as heck and seemed feel just fine.

I’ll be keeping a close eye on him and if he’s not back to his normal-weird self by tomorrow, a vet visit will be in order. Fingers crossed for my little dude!

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Park Runs

Awesome run this morning after several days of humid grossness. It would have been better if it was a little colder, but that’s my only complaint!

The dogs did great. To start, they usually yap their heads off as we’re leaving the house, which I’m sure isn’t pleasant for my neighbors. Today, they were silent and focused. Dexter has been acting rowdy at hook-up, lunging at Knox and tangling himself up in his excitement. Today, he stayed still and didn’t cause any problems.

The run went perfectly fine, no chasing squirrels, no barking at dogs – granted, they didn’t really see any squirrels or dogs. But I’ll still count it as a win.

What really impressed me was the dogs’ “on-by” when passing people and vehicles. There were multiple instances where we had to pass by moving and parked cars, and they did it flawlessly.

We also passed by a herd of children waiting at a bus stop – all squealing, “DOGGIES!”, no less. Dexter showed some interest, because he’s a social butterfly, but Denali and Knox powered through and he took the hint. 

Despite their issues with other animals, it’s awesome to have them listen to me under most other circumstances. Good dogs!

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Sunrise

We woke up well before the sun to train at Six Mile Run. I wanted to be on the trail at sunrise, in hopes of beating all the mountain bikers and people free running their dogs.

When I rolled up, there were no other cars in the parking lot. I started unloading the dog cart when a truck towing a horse trailer pulled in. “Ok, we’ll have to avoid someone on horseback, no big deal.”

And then about a dozen more trucks with horse trailers drove in. As it turns out, they were holding a competitive trail ride throughout Six Mile Run that morning. Just my luck.

I was just about ready to drop the dogs when I decided running this trail wasn’t going to happen. Frustrated, I repacked the dog cart and drove to another trail head. There were signs and markers warning about the horse race there, too, but I decided to give it a shot.

The dogs ran beautifully and it was a perfect, crisp morning. I was still disappointed we couldn’t run the longer trail, and I could tell the dogs still had plenty of gas in their tanks by the end of the trip. I was tempted to do the trail twice, but I figured the horses would be approaching and didn’t want to take any chances.

It’s only the start of our season, though, and we’ll get plenty more chances to run.

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