Saturday, January 25, 2014

Skalkaho Falls!!

We finally made it!!! We made it to the falls!  We've been trying the last two seasons to get there.

We were originally told it was 6 miles up. But it was actually a little more than 7.5. The issue is its ALL uphill to get there. I would start to worry about them physically and we'd turn around.  On a side note, I probably am a little too easy on them, and they can probably handle much more than I ask them. I'm starting to realize that this season, I'll think I've pushed them too far and we get home they play like puppies in the dog yard.... (today Isis, volunteerly ran another 5 miles with Cobey. She snuck off when I wasn't looking and caught up to him and Kona on their run).
Our last attempt last season had us only 1/2 mile to go (I did not realize). There are so may bends in the road at the top and I would keep thinking, it's just around this turn, and it wouldn't be. This time we were determined, though the team seemed to be lossing heart the last 1/4th of a mile.  It was a strange thing though, when we got to the falls it was as if they all looked at me and said, "Yes, that was worth it!"
It was so beautiful out but too warm for January.  I can't believe how not winter it has been around here.  The trails are looking like they do in March and the temperature is is acting the same way too.  I hope this isn't really the end of the season.
My phone camera couldn't capture the awesomeness of the Skalkaho Falls, but it was.
Tensaw and Isis enjoying the beauty of the falls.
On our way back.
Good Puppas!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Darby Dog Derby 2014

This weekend was a blast!  Our local mushing club, The Bitterroot Mushers, had our annual race The Darby Dog Derby.  It was our BEST yet! The trail was AMAZING!  (Thank you SOOOOO much to Lost Trail Powder Mountain and The Bitterroot Cross-country Ski Club for maintaining an amazing trail this season. The teams at the event were top notch (and great people), the spectators were great, we had LOTS of entries into our pee wee competition...I could go on and on!

My team had not run 14 miles yet (we were up to 10).  I had hoped to run 14 the weekend before but we planned our weekend poorly. For multiple reasons (only running 5 dogs in a 6-dog class being one), I figured we would definitely not be in the running for the top spots. I was mostly going into this race as a training run with lots of practice with teams passing (as there were 9 other teams in our class alone).

Flier and Tank were my leaders, Paluk in swing and Tensaw and Isis in wheel.  The weather was beautiful!  Sunny and cold! The dogs did absolutely phenomenal!  I was so proud of how they worked.  We took it easy.  We stopped near Hogan's cabin for a break, and I checked feet.  Paluk's looked a bit sore so I put some booties on her back feet. Soon they were letting me know they were ready to go and off we charged.  It was a bit of a slog up Hogan's run but they took it like champs.  We were leagues behind the rest of the teams by the finish of day 1 but I was very proud of my team.

On Sunday they again did very well though they were dipping a lot.  That's the musher's fault, I didn't water them as much as I should between Saturday's run and Sunday. Still a beautiful day and a solid run.  Isis impressed me Sunday, for being breed by a 'non-sled-dog-kennel" she holds her own and gave me her all!

We commandingly took red lantern but I still feel very proud of my team!

The best part of this weekend was getting to meat Karen Yeargain of Tumnaki Siberians and picking her very experienced and knowledgable brain about training and dog care. I even used some of her training tips on day 2 and the dogs picked up them quick! Not to mention she waxed my runners on Sunday and the dogs very much appreciated the reduced drag! I'm sure that's why we went 2 minutes faster than our Saturday run.

Good puppas!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


I realized it'd been a while since I posted pics of the "Saw Litter." Sorry, it was late and dark when I took them but still cute.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Trail Ettiquite

I am a big proponant of multi-use trails. We all can gain a little something from each other (especially mushers from snowmobiles breaking trail!). With multi-use comes the necessary trail ettiquite, of which I'm an even bigger proponant. On Sunday, I took my team up Skalkaho to train. Hook up was a bit hectic and the dogs were extra excited, especially Tensaw who gets a bit bouncy. Tensaw was in lead (mistake number one) with Flier, Isis in swing and Paluk and Tank in wheel.

I popped the quick release and immediately POP went the tie on the back of Tank's harness, luckily he had a neckline so he didn't take off up the trail.  I dug in the snowhooks and went to jerry-rig a connection for the tug line to his harness.  When I got off the sled I noticed some cross-country skiiers up the trail a bit with a couple dogs.  Here was mistake number two, I should have waved them down the trail while I had the team hooked down but instead I was busy trying to calm Tensaw and fix Tank's harness.  It took quite a while as I then had trouble getting the snowhooks out because the team had dug them in deep while lunging in their harnesses. So they had PLENTY of time to gather their dogs, which I had assumed they'd done.

My team, even Tensaw, can run by a controlled dog.  They can even run by a uncontrolled dog that is staying out of their way.  But as soon as we took off one of the dogs came charging up to my team, growling, and then turned back to his humans and dove between their legs.  With Tensaw and Flier, new to the lead position, there was no hope and straight into the skiiers we dove. Fortunately, even though growls were heard, things were easily straightened out and we were on our way.  I was rather frustrated about the situation and it showed on my face. I should have been a bit less angry about it and for that I am sorry.

Proper ettiquite would be to gather your free running dogs whether a team is coming, a skijorer, a dogless skiier or a snowmobiler (especially for your dog's safety).  Where I went wrong, is a lack of communication.  Dog teams are not common in these areas and these people didn't know. I should have asked them if their dogs were gathered or waved them by.

Other trail manners include: mushers need to listen for snowmobilers, especially on the turns, because they can't hear you, and plan appropriately (i.e. hold the team back so you don't meet on the turn, gee or haw over the team, etc). If you come upon skiiers/snowshoers/etc from behind, call trail to inform them of the team approaching. Snowmobilers need to slow down and give space when passing skiiers and dogs teams.  Some snowmobilers pull off the trail and turn off their engines, while very kind, this is not necessary.  Most dog teams have and/or need to experience running by running snowmobiles.

We all recreate in different ways, which in the end benefits us all. So share the trails, properly!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

6-dog Decision

I decided while on our run Tuesday that we could and should run the 14-mile 6-dog race at the Darby Dog Derby. We only have 5 and could race with this few but Nicki is going to loan me Pibe again to round the team to 6. 

I ran Flier in Lead with Tensaw on Tuesday and Thursday evening and they did great. At the 2.5 mile mark the dogs always want to turn. This is where, early in the season, we'd do a little lollipop and return home. So I would have to walk my "leaders" past it. Tuesday and Thursday Flier ran 'straight ahead' without even batting an eye 'haw.' YES! A true leader that one. So excited to see what more he'll do!

Couple great runs and looking forward to getting back on the sled this weekend!

A very blurry, poor picture from our run but I had to document this momentous occasion!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Good times, Good puppas

Yesterday's run was great. A bunch of local mushers met up at the race site to train volunteers (none of whom showed up). No tears were shed though, just meant we were going out running dogs a little earlier than planned.

Nicki loaned me her lead dog Pibe to help out Flier. It was a great run!



Today we stayed at home to train with the ATV.  Got in about 6 miles.  It was  good run with Tank in lead.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Run with a Friend

Today's run was a great way to start the new year! We met up with Nicki Arndt and her team at Gibbons Pass Road (again, only place with snow).  Beautiful day (too warm in the valley but perfect on the hill). I decided to put Flier and Paluk in lead, Tensaw in swing, Isis and Tank in wheel. We took off and I promptly dumped the sled on the entrance to the trail.  After righting myself, we continued on our run.  Nicki hooked up her team after me, especially because our team was two dogs less than hers and historically we are much slower.  It wasn't until 3.5 miles in that Nicki's team caught us. 

By then I had moved Paluk into swing because she was causing Flier some confusion, he couldn't keep his pace, she kept tugging him backwards.  Flier single lead and he did great for a while but seemed to need a co-leader with him after some time.  Nicki came up on us when I was going to put Tank in lead with Flier, Nicki suggested passing us and running in front of us.  We did that, and Flier found a new motivation and kept the team right behind Nicki's (in fact I had to ride the brake a ways). At the Hogan's cabin turn off we swung back around and headed back.  A mostly uphill slog though! We kept with Nicki until about 2 miles to go. A few of the dogs started limping because they had ice balls gathering in their feet.

We stopped, I cleared their paws and we had lost sight of Nicki by then. We had a bit of a tangle when we passed a group of xc skiiers with free running dogs.  They moved on and I decided to spend a bit of time with Flier on "line out." He has a tendency to wonder back to the swing dogs when I head back to the sled.  He's a quick learner so it didn't take him long to figure it out. All in all, it was a very successful run! The team did great!

Happy New Year from ByDog Siberians!