The first mandatory meeting wasn't until Saturday morning but we took the day Friday to take our time traveling up to Priest Lake. We rented a cabin at Elkins Resort (one of the generous race sponsors) and were quite pleased when we walked in. The cabin is quite spacious, warm and cozy. The logs in the fireplace lit up quickly and pretty soon after dogs were dropped and back cozy in their boxes, we were cozy in ours.
Saturday morning we arrived with enough time to comfortably unload and walk over to the musher meeting. Though the parking lot was full of Siberian teams, we were the only team in the 6 dog sprint purebred class. I was given bib number 20 (a good solid even number, I prefer even numbers) and soon enough we were headed down the trail Paluk and Kona in lead, Okanogan and Tank in swing and Tenny and Isis on wheel. The first mile was on a flat straight that was just smeared in dog poop already which caused some consternation for Tensaw but we got through it. Soon we were winding through the trees and speeds that impressed me, coming from our team.
The course was narrow, fast, flat and a lot of fun! The team was so focused for the first 4.5 miles and it was beautiful. Paluk was taking her gee/haw commands great and even ran us by a quick little squirrel that I thought would be the end of us.
But at a little more than a mile to go the focus disappeared and our quick trip was all undone. Around the last turn Paluk took it too tight and led the team onto a snowmobile track instead of the groomed trail. I tried multiple times to get her back to the trail as the lack of base where we were at was stressing the team. Finally we got back on the trail but Paluk attempted to turn the team around multiple times, often back off the trail following snowmobile turnouts. The finish was clearly in view. Did she not want to finish?
Finally after we ran the gauntlet of photographers (which was quite startling for Paluk) we finished. I think all in all it was a successful run.
Note: As Day 1 was actually Saturday but were out of internet range until now, Day 2 story will be soon to follow (with pictures and video).