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Snow in the Summer

I found some snow while hiking at Mt. Rainier National Forest. Only 181 more days ‘til winter.

I found some snow while hiking at Mt. Rainier National Forest. Only 181 more days ‘til winter.

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Columbia River Gorge

Washington overlooking Oregon at Beacon Rock, Columbia River Gorge  It’s hot out in Jersey, so while the dogs enjoy their “summer vacation”, I’m out exploring the west coast. Headed to Seattle next, keep on truckin’!

Washington overlooking Oregon at Beacon Rock, Columbia River Gorge

It’s hot out in Jersey, so while the dogs enjoy their “summer vacation”, I’m out exploring the west coast. Headed to Seattle next, keep on truckin’!

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Finishing the Season

The dogs and I hit Brendan T. Byrne this past weekend to finish out the mushing season. I had a three day weekend thanks to the holiday, but Friday was a wash with 70 degree temperatures and rain. We made the most of Saturday and Sunday, though!

Saturday morning we arrived early and got a quick five miles in before it got too warm. Then I spent the afternoon reading Wild and cooking on my new camp stove while the dogs lounged around.

We were up before the sun the next morning and started our run directly from the campsite, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. It was a struggle to pull myself out of a toasty sleeping bag into below freezing temperatures, but it was worth it. All I had to do was throw clothes on myself, harness the dogs, and roll out.

We finished the season with our longest run of the year at almost 10 miles. There were a few points where it was slow-going, but overall, I’m very happy and proud of the pups. Especially Dexter, who has shown he can still keep up with the youngins’… at least after their initial burst of speed. I’m working on controlling their pacing, which will work out better for all three of them.

Cheers to the 2014/2015 mushing season coming to an end, and here’s to the beginning of 2015 hiking season!

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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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Up before the Sun

Hot breath on a cold morning.

Hot breath on a cold morning.

 

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Fall

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Hot October

Camping in the Pine Barrens came with its share of ups and downs.

I had to commute into Manhattan for a work meeting, so we didn’t get down to the campsite until about 4:30 PM. Denali and Knox were immediately comfortable on their tie-outs, since we had camped there this summer. Dexter was a bit antsy, but I still managed to set up my new (bigger) tent and cook dinner. The sun sets around 6 PM and we made it a pretty early night.

It was in the mid-40’s when we woke up on Saturday. I cooked up a quick breakfast (pork roll, eggs, and tea) and loaded the dogs for our first run. The campsite is about five minutes from the Mt. Misery trail, so it was nice to get an early start without the usual hour and a half drive.

The dogs did great – I know I say it a lot, but they’re really starting to round out as a team. Even Dexter has been keeping a better pace with the speedy huskies. I wanted to explore the surrounding trails a bit more, but it warmed up too fast. 

Most of Saturday was peaceful, until a family rolled up and took the campsite directly next to mine. That’s the one thing you can’t prepare for when you book online – families that just drive in without reservations.

The kids weren’t really bad, I just wanted to relax and not listen to their squeaky little voices. The family also had a small dog with them. It was perfectly well behaved, but of course my meatheads wanted to either wrestle it or eat it (can’t be too sure).

I eagerly awaited sundown so I could cook my dinner and have the darkness provide some seclusion. It was another early night, since I wasn’t sure if it would be cold enough to run the dogs the next morning.

I’m glad I decided to stay, despite family, because Sunday’s run was beautiful. I drove out before breakfast, since it was already nearly 50 degrees when I woke up. We were on the trail as the sun was rising, and it made for some beautiful light through the pines.

While it was warm at the campsite and at the trail head, the trail itself felt a few degrees cooler. I wasn’t going to push the dogs, and had planned to just do a mile and a half, but they were on fire. We took a few breaks for water, but they were revved up and ready to run each time.

We did the whole 3.8 mile trail again, and they ended strong. There’s a hill towards the very end of the run, and Denali must have seen an animal or something, because they took the hill full speed, when normally I have to pedal the rig along.

The dogs got a well-deserved breakfast of kibble, beef, and eggs while I cooked my own (awesome) campfire omelette. My neighbors were wide awake, so I decided to pack up and head home before my “check out” time.

All in all, I’m glad I went, but I’m looking forward to colder temperatures and (hopefully) fewer campers next time.

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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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Keep Exploring Everyday

Keep exploring. Everyday.

Keep exploring. Everyday.

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