Fall update 2010Hello Blue Kennels Fans,
this update is long overdue. The last one was in June and it was the description of the final run into Nome during Iditarod 2010. In the spring I was certain, that I had seen Nome for the last time, at least for a while and at least by dog team. True to the old saying never say never, things have developed a whole lot different than I anticipated. Long story short, next thing I found myself at the Iditarod signup in June at the ITC headquarters in Wasilla once again. Of course some fellow mushers rubbed it in: “ I thought you are not going to run again”. Not much I could say in my defense. Truly addicted I am.
Right after the ITC signup I flew to Germany to spend some precious time with my parents. This fall I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak at the Midwest Mushing Symposium organized by Tasha and Ed Stielstra in Michigan. The event was very well organized, as to be expected of Tasha and Ed and I had a chance to meet many new mushing friends. After the symposium I toured the area with Iditarod Diehard fans Claudia and Lee Nowak, who gave me a whirlwind tour of the Leeland peninsula, a truly magnificent place to live. Dang, we had a lot of good food too and even went sailing.
Myself I would not even have enough dogs to continue racing. While some of my older dogs romp the yard and play “ the boss “, many of their litter mates have retired on couches in the warmer south. It is hard to believe, but I am down to having 22 own dogs in the yard. Already last winter 6 of the dogs in my team were from other mushers, mainly Jon Little. I have not raised any litters in quite a while, simply because between working to make a living and training the main team in the fall time, the days would not have enough hours to properly train puppies at the same time. So this year once gain, I will run a lot of dogs which are not mine. That is very challenging, yet fun at the same time. The other day, looking over the gang line, 31 dogs in total , I realized that only the first 7 dogs were my own. All others either belong to Aaron Burmeister of Flat Dog Kennels or to the J team from Jessie Royer. This years race team is a combination of dogs from the 3 different kennels. I feel fortunate to have friends like Aaron and Jessie, who trust me with their dogs. Jessie helps me train this winter and most likely sign up for Iditarod herself.
For the fall time we were training at my place in Whitehorse again. The fall training trails here are great, lot´s of choices, from hills, to flats, to open meadows to water crossing. They were a bit muddy at times which meant lots of harness washing, having no running water, that means trips to town. Here in Whitehorse I also have the big free run, where we can turn all dogs loose for the happy hour. I just came inside from one of those. It is always fun to see a group of dogs melting together into a team. After some juggling I think I have found a well matched combination of dogs. The other night I took 20 of them inside, and Jessie asked me: “Why not all 31 ? The others will feel left out.” Well in my little 16x24 has only limited room and not all of them are really house trained ( yet ). Maybe I should get Febreeze as a sponsor.
The last 2 weeks we trained at Aishihik Lake. There was not enough snow for a sled and each year I hook up the dogs to the truck, to run the team the 42 km in to Gerhard´s Cabin. Jessie was following me on the Quad with her team and thoughts of hooking both teams to the truck crossed my mind. Well the next day we did just that, hooking 60 dogs in two 30 dog teams to the bumper. Amazingly the bumper stayed with the truck. I guess that is what you get if a crazy German meets an Alaskan Loosenut. After a few modifications of the hookup things started to go quite smooth and we ran that huge team each and every run. Not only did this give Jessie and me the chance to look at each others teams, the dogs got very used to be in one big group, I have to admit it was also nice to get off the ATV and into the warm truck for a few weeks. My old Dodge´s cab is too small to sleep in, so at least for the camping part, we had to sleep outside.
Running all dogs at once all for sudden also got us a bit ahead in the training schedule so now the dogs have some well deserved time off and we are packing to move to Paxson. It is November 15th and there is still no snow in Whitehorse. Even the Canol Road does not look good. So off to Alaska we go, Paxson has about a foot of snow and the Denali Highway to train on, plus two of our races start right there. I missed running the mid distance races last winter and am looking forward to racing them again, hopefully I also make it out to the Kusko 300.
Clearly Iditarod is the main goal. Doing well in Iditarod is also the goal. How well I will do, time will tell. I was ( am ) very pleased with my 7th place finish last year. Yes I did not win. Winning is not everything. Lance is winning in style, with a great looking dog team. Each year I see teams who clearly race too hard, trying to stay with the front pack and having their team pay the price. I will not cross that line and rather throttle back during the race. Last winter I had to throttle back along the Yukon River and under the circumstances 7th place was the best I could race that team and still feel good about how happy they look at the end.
There are several race guests coming over this winter. I enjoy training with other people to help them achieve their dreams too. There is several of us going to race in the Sheep Mountain 150, Gin Gin 200, Copper Basin 300 and so far there are 2 teams in the Quest 300. What about the 1000 Mile Quest? Well, Andy Moser, who does this website, is hoping to give it another shot at it, but so far his work schedule seems to be conflicting. Damn work thing, I know the feeling. Andy has first dibs, but if he can not run the Quest after all, time will tell if Jessie or I will sign up.
A few new sponsors came on board. I like to thank Anita from MSANNAS books for sponsoring the Iditarod entry fee and Pike Legal Group for sponsoring the Booties for the race season.
I have gotten a lot of questions about tours, as I have not updated the Blue Kennels Tours site for this upcoming winter. Well, it is hard to do tours and racing justice at the same time during the winter. I decided to do no tours at all until the Iditarod. For the springtime we will offer trips from Paxson into the Mc Laren Valley in Alaska. Next summer we will be on the glacier again in Juneau. So if you plan a cruise to Alaska next summer, give Coastal Helicopters ( www.coastalhelicopters.com ) a call and visit us on the Herbert glacier.
Over the next few weeks I will write updates on how the team is doing, and also introduce all of the dogs. For all of you on facebook, I am a bit faster with putting updates and pictures on there. Here the link: www.facebook.com/Sebastian.Schnuelle.Fanpage
Well this is all for now,
Happy trails to you all! Sebastian