Missed the news
Our Christmas was very international this year, with Guests from Scottland, Switzerland, France and Germany. Christine and Jocelyne made a great Turkey for Dinner. We also could count on our yearly Xmas snow melt, it got warm again. Luckily this year not as serious as in the past, with just one day above zero at the kennel, the snow basically stayed as before and did not melt. Yippee. Short after Xmas we were back to 30 below.
did not have much time for training after the Denali Dash in the
middle of December, but I a kind of expected this. Mike and me spend
a lot of time setting up camps and getting Braeburn ready, also
I had to do trips to Watson Lake. All tents are in, some were a
real grunt as we had to cut a lot of windblown trees out of the
way. We had to also cut long stretches of willow and I can still
hear Mike say: "you are really nuts".
Still I had hopes to be able to at least stick to my plan to go the the Solstice 100 Mile Run in Fairbanks organized by the TRDMA (www.trdma.org/solstice 100.html). I had not been back in Fairbanks for a few years and very much enjoyed seeing some friends.
A day before Christmas I met Didier Moggia, a French Musher who rents a cabin at William Kleedehn`s (www.yukonexplorer.com). We talked a bit and soon after he left I got an idea: "I wonder if he is into driving the second team ???" , called him up and sure he would not want to pass on that one. We did one quick training run to 37 Mile Lake on the 25th, which went well, obviously Didier knows what he is doing. The only bit of trouble we had, is that all 5 femals are in heat.... which does not make life much easier, most of the males are not much into eating. On the 26th we packed up and drove to Fairbanks to arrive there late at night at Judy Cooper (www.earthtonehuskies.com/bb/bb.htm) Judy is a pretty amazing Person, turning 65 soon, managing a kennel of over 50 dogs herself, having a part time job, always time to help somebody out besides doing her beautiful artwork. Without her help at the starline and the checkpoint it would have been very difficult for us, many many thanks JUDY!!!
the morning of the 27 at 9 a.m. was the Mushers draw, start at 10.15
a.m. Luckily we drew high numbers, 26 and 27 of 30. As number 24
went by I did not even have a dog in the line...... better get going
soon, only 4 minutes to go. We heared that there was going to be
no overflow, good news, the more surprised was I, to come around
the corner under Jenny M Bridge to see 4 teams wading through the
slush. Darn I could not get my mat down, and sooner than I could
react Tang had the gang pulled by all teams up the other side, not
without some cussing of the others "what the f---- are you
doing" heard Jack Berry, which did not seem to have been too
serious, as we laughed over it at Angel Creek. The trail over Jenny
M Hill was great, narrow and winding, unfortunately some very slow
teams ahead, but with some patience we managed to squeeze by them.
I had in my head that is was 50 miles in and 50 miles back, theoretically
at 11 mph which we were running that should be no more than 4hr
30 minutes. As after 5hrs there was still no sign of the checkpoint,
I started to ask myself. Did I miss a turn?? As after 5.15 (that
would be 9 mph) I still saw no sign, had not seen other mushers
for long, I decided, darn, I turn around. As after 10 Minutes Hugh
Neff came my way, I heard that questions again: "what are you
doing?" which I really asked myself. Only 5 minutes after where
I had turned I arrived in Angel Creek, I have to admit I did not
feel all that great about that mistake. In the Checkpoint came the
answer to my question, it was decided to make the trail in 65 miles
long, and back only 35 miles, somehow I overheared that before.
After 4 hrs rest, where everybody drank and ate well we headed back
to the Valley Center. I decided to drop Ginger, as she would not
pull and with her heat be of not much help to the rest of the team.
Soon after I left the Checkpoint my headlight quit. Luckily I had
a little Petzel and tried fixing the other one while running. Although
I knew to make a right hand turn after about 25 miles I managed
to miss it, when I had my light going again, I realized, geez there
are not sled tracks ahead. I could not believe it; I had to turn
around again, as I went to the 27 Mile Road Crossing instead of
eh 24 Mile one. Just as I came to the turn my light gave up again,
but Jack Berry came my way and I decided, well racing is defenitely
not an issue no more and followed him the last 10 miles in and finished
11th, not quite what I expected of myself.
came in as 21st . Judy waited for us til 1.30 in the morning to
give us a hand. All dogs finished well, just Freak had a sore wrist
in the front, an injury which he has had before, I guess he does
not make the race team no more.
Didier only speaks french, which was great, so I could learn again for a weekend. He is great to be around and besides teaching me French he also tought me all kind of other little tricks, I guess I learned more of him than he from me.
Before heading home we stopped at Cold Spots Feed, I call it Mushers Paradiese. I could stock up an many little things on my wishlist for the Quest and made a food drop depot at Judy`s. I will go back to Fairbanks after the Copper Basin (www.cb300.com) to get things ready there.
Happy new years to all of you, Sab, Joc and the Team.