nj pine barrens

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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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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Water World

After all the rain we’ve had, the trails down in the Pine Barrens were more like small lakes. We tried a new 5.7 mile loop, which involved maneuvering through some huge puddles that just about submerged the the rig. The dogs didn’t seem to mind. Especially Dexter – he actually ran better than ever. I guess maybe he’s a Labrador mix after all. 
 Towards the end of our run, we caught up with Jessica’s team and Bryan’s team (fellow Jersey Sands mushers). It was nice having some teams to chase for the final stretch, and to get the dogs used to other dogs nearby. Passing is a different story, but I’m grateful to have other mushers involved in this crazy sport to train with me!

After all the rain we’ve had, the trails down in the Pine Barrens were more like small lakes. We tried a new 5.7 mile loop, which involved maneuvering through some huge puddles that just about submerged the the rig. The dogs didn’t seem to mind. Especially Dexter – he actually ran better than ever. I guess maybe he’s a Labrador mix after all.

Towards the end of our run, we caught up with Jessica’s team and Bryan’s team (fellow Jersey Sands mushers). It was nice having some teams to chase for the final stretch, and to get the dogs used to other dogs nearby. Passing is a different story, but I’m grateful to have other mushers involved in this crazy sport to train with me!

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Camping

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In the Pines

We had our first real run in the pines this past weekend. Slow but steady 3.8 miles at Mt. Misery (charming name, eh?) in Brendan T. Byrne State Forest.

I was hoping for colder temperatures, but it hovered around 47 degrees which meant lots of breaks. The dogs did well despite the temperature. I think they were just happy to be running those sandy trails again.

We’re heading back there this weekend to camp and mush. Can’t wait!

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Summer Camping

I took Denali and Knox camping in the Pine Barrens this weekend. I wanted to bring Dexter, but the campsite had a two dog limit and I didn’t want to bend any rules this time around. After spending the weekend there, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be an issue for the future.

We weren’t too far from our go-to dryland mushing trail, so I’m glad we scoped this spot out. Dex has also camped before, so this trip was to teach the huskies how to behave.

The first night, they were a little wound up. Two high prey drive huskies in a small tent does not make for a peaceful sleep when the area is full of noisy critters. But they eventually settled down.

It was cool enough in the morning to take them for a quick bike ride around our usual trail. I didn’t push it, though. They’re out of practice and the flies were swarming, so we did less than a mile.

After that, they were much more behaved. We returned to camp for breakfast, a nap, and lunch. We did a quick hike around Pakim Pond, then drove around some more trails to plan for the fall season.

The Pine Barrens offer miles and miles of flat, soft trail which is perfect for dryland dog mushing. I’m looking forward to getting back down there when it’s cooler and without all the flies.

The pups slept soundly the second night, after a day of adventures. We packed up early Sunday morning after an intense rain storm. Can’t wait to head out again!

Full album on Flickr.

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Back on Track



I’ve been pretty bad about updating this blog, but I’ve been even worse about getting the dogs out for runs. To pick up where we left off – the dogs and I attended our first race of the season. We didn’t make it out for Jersey Sand’s first race, but we did get down there for the Pine Barrens Dryland Run.

I wasn’t expecting too much from this race. I was treating it like a normal run down in the pines, since this was only our second time at Mt. Misery this season. Also, it was around 50 degrees when we ran, and I didn’t want to push the dogs too hard.

Despite the conditions and lack of training, we came away with second place – only a few seconds behind the first place team. We had some opportunities to overtake the other team, but I held the brakes. I knew my guys would lose steam as soon as we passed, so I tried to stay on their tail for the majority of the run. Given the minute starts, we could still grab first if we came in close enough after the first team out. That plan almost worked, except everybody slowed down during the final leg of the race.

But that’s alright. They still did great. I’m especially proud of Knox. His line was tight the entire time. Denali got a little distracted, which is entirely unlike her. Dexter did well, but I could tell it was tough on him.

Speaking of Dexter, we had a little scare with him just over a week ago. I had all the dogs in for their wellness exams, and his blood work came back a little off. It seemed as though he was fighting an infection, though he had antibodies pretty much finishing it off. The vet was worried about Lyme, so I had to bring in a urine sample to make sure his kidneys were working properly.

Luckily, everything came back fine. I need to keep an eye on him for any stiffness and get his urine tested at least once a year. I feel pretty guilty for making him run the last race, seeing as he likely didn’t feel great at the time. But he sure didn’t show it.

Now, as I mentioned, our runs have been infrequent. We had a freakish warm spell for a few days, followed by what seemed like a week of rain. Followed by me getting sick and the holidays. Hopefully, now that I’m feeling better and the chaos of Christmas has passed, we can get back into the swing of things.

2012-2013 Mileage to Date: 43.87

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Dog Food and Other Things

Distance Moving Time Average Speed Maximum Speed
3.96 miles 0:25.52 9.18 mph 19.31 mph

It seems like every time I speculate a run will be our last of the season, we’re able to sneak another in. I went out to the Pine Barrens last Saturday with the gang and had my favorite run so far. Knox has been handling our short one to two mile runs without any problem, so I decided to try the longer trail. After all, if this was going to be our last run of the season, I wanted to make the most of it.

I was the first to arrive and set up on Saturday. Luckily, I had my new quick release (thanks to Roy of Adirondack Kennel), so I didn’t need anyone to hold the dogs while I hooked them up. Denali has an impeccable line-out for a yearling, so that helped too.


It was about 38 degrees with very low humidity, so the dogs ran very well. I stopped them twice for water breaks and to let Knox rest, since this was his longest run yet. Overall it was a very smooth run. The sand was loose in some spots, so they had to work a bit to pull through. We saw some deer right as the trail split in one area, which made Denali want to haw instead of gee. I stopped and waited for her to cool off, and surprisingly, she didn’t take long to regain her composure and gee over. Glad I was on the rig and not my bike, though, or it may have been a different story.

Other than our run on Saturday, we haven’t been doing too much. I’ve been slacking on the daily walks, but the dogs don’t seem to mind as long as they get to hang outside. Denali and Knox chase each other around the yard in the morning and evening. They are a good match for tiring each other out.

It doesn’t look like we’ll be getting a Pine Barrens trip in this weekend, as temperatures aren’t falling below 50. I will be more vigilant about getting some loose leash walks in, though, before they forget all the progress we’ve made so far.

In other-dog related news, I’ve started transitioning my pack away from Canidae and on to Annamaet. I’ve stuck with Canidae for a long time because it’s affordable, available locally, and most importantly, decent quality. However, I always felt like the dogs could be doing a little better.

I’ve been interested in Annamaet for awhile, but couldn’t get it anywhere close by. Shipping it wasn’t really worthwhile because it added on almost $15 to the price. However, I recently realized that with my auto-ship discount from PetFoodDirect, I can get almost $8 off a 40-pound bag, which basically cuts the shipping in half. I did the math, and I’ll be paying about $0.20 more per pound for the 40-pound adult formula Annamaet versus the 35-pound all-life-stages formula Canidae. It’s a small price jump, so I’m willing to give it a shot.

I started the dogs off by mixing an 8-pound bag of Annamaet in with their old kibble, and they really liked it. They even began picking out the Annamaet and leaving the Canidae behind. I plan to stick to the Adult 23% formula for the time being, and then blend in the Ultra 32% when mushing season picks up again.

Annamaet supports a lot of the mushing and husky rescue events I participate in, so it’s nice to return the favor and feed their food. I’m planning a blog post about my experiences with different dog foods (dry, canned, and raw)… this is just the tip of the iceberg. Stay tuned!

2011-2012 Mileage to Date: 133.66

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