Mush with Friends

The dogs and I got to introduce a few more of my friends to mushing this weekend. Even though I’ve been running dogs for a few years now, it hasn’t been an easy hobby to share with others. Pulling a passenger’s weight is difficult with only three dogs, even when trail conditions are perfect. 

The trails at Six Mile Run were absolutely stunning. The thick, heavy snow coated everything like frosting. I’ve mushed and hiked here dozens of times, and it still manages to surprise me by looking completely different.

Unfortunately, the deep snow made sled rides almost impossible. Temperatures shot up today and look like they’ll be staying up for awhile, so this may have been our last sled run of the season. 

I’ll be in Iceland at the end of this week, but I’m looking forward to camping trips with the dogs as spring creeps in. Mornings will still be cold enough for some dryland runs, and I’m set on finishing our 150 mile goal for the season. Just 20 more miles to go!

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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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Sled Runs

Winter storm “Hercules” (I hate that they name snow storms now) dumped a bunch of white stuff on us the day after New Years. We went for a run around the neighborhood while the storm was still raging to take advantage of the unplowed streets.

Even though it was nearly midnight, the snow reflected everything and we could see just fine. By the time we got back, the dogs had ice beards and our hair was frozen. It reminded me of professional dog teams during the Iditarod or other big races – even though we were only out for about 45 minutes and went less than two miles.

Friday, I had to work a bit, but afterwards we headed right back out. It didn’t get much warmer than the teens, so the snow didn’t melt and the streets still had a sled-able layer of snow.

My goal for today was to get out on some real trails. I dragged my sister along to Six Mile Run to help – and to take pictures while we ran. While we were setting up, a guy walked over and asked if he could take pictures, because “no one would believe him”. I love those encounters. He stood along the trail and snapped photos as we took off and the dogs passed by flawlessly – even though he had a scary hat and Dexter wasn’t too sure about it. 

The dogs run great on snow. You can tell they love it, even if it’s a bit extra work for them. The snow was deep and soft today, so it was slow going. I didn’t mind it, though. The trails were beautiful and I soaked up every second out there. This is why I do it, not to clock in super fast speeds or win races.

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The Ups and Downs of Mushing


Things have been pretty glorious since my last entry. We’ve been getting snowed on, which is a great surprise for early December. Considering how dry the past two winters were, getting on the sled before January was a welcomed change. Here’s hoping this winter is like the one right before I purchased my sled – when we had blizzards literally every weekend!

We’ve been getting little bits of snow here and there, but the heaviest dump was last Saturday. I managed to take the sled out that night, before the plows cleared off the streets.

The following day, I went to good ol’ Six Mile Run for some more time on the runners. The dogs loved it, despite having to pull both me and Rob through the soggy snow. We did less than two miles since it was tough work, but it was still fun taking the sled somewhere beyond my neighborhood.


Sadly, it’s supposed to warm up this weekend, and all my beautiful snow will likely melt before my vacation officially begins. Sunday is supposed to reach 68 degrees with thunder storms. Really?

I had originally hoped to trek up north to find some sledding trails, but I’m hesitant to make the trip by myself. Unfamiliar trails with questionable cell phone service worry me a bit. Finding a cabin has also proved to be a challenge. Plan B was to find trails closer to home. I had the Poconos in mind. But with the upcoming warm weather, I doubt I’ll find anything sled-able without going at least five hours north.

I need to start making preparations to do these trips on my own. I want to get my hands on a satellite GPS – I think that would help with some of my anxiety. If I’m ever going to start running my little team over greater distances, I won’t be able to do it with a passenger. That’s just too much for three dogs to handle.

I don’t expect anyone to accompany me for a seven hour journey north, where they’ll be spending their time alone in a rustic cabin with only the bear essentials, while I’m out running dogs for hours.

I also don’t expect my friends to wake up at 5:30 AM on a Saturday, hop in my truck for an hour and a half ride, only to spend eight hours in the freezing cold while I compete in races.

Normal twenty-something-year-olds don’t do this stuff. While they’re out at bars and listening to friends’ bands perform, I’m calling it a night at 10 PM.

Mushing is a lonely thing, I’ve come to realize. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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