Thursday, January 22, 2009
Eureka Update and CB300 Glennallen to Chisto
Brent and the Gang
Chapter 2 Glennallen to Chisto
3 hours 30 minutes into my rest at Glennallen I headed back out at -30 to prepare to leave. The dogs had all rested very well and as I walked up closer Silver sat up and he new it was time, he shook off and slowly all the dogs started to rise from their slumber. I grabbed a bag of booties from my sled bag and went to work; Starting at the front I began to booty. In the process I checked over everyone to make sure that no wrists or shoulders had become sore during the rest, as I moved from one dog to the next everyone looked great. I put the last booty on Tok zipped up my bag, removed the snow hook from up front and we were ready to go. At this point the dogs are all up an standing in the ready position. I love my team, they hardly ever say a word when we leave but when I say “ok guys” they all just lean into the tugs and we are off. My handlers were there to lead me to the checkout point and after exactly 4 hours of rest we were back on the trail. As we moved away from the checkpoint the trail parallels the road, there were lots of cars coming by slowing down to get a look at the team and even a few yelling out asking who I was. The trail was fast and hard and easy for the dogs to get right up on step. We were croozing along great. I kept and eye out behind me to see if any one followed me out, I never saw anyone, but I new that it wouldn’t be long before Hans and Allen would hit the trail. This was great motivation to get the ski pole out and start poling and kicking. The trail from Glenallen to Chisto runs along the road, on an off throughout the entire 60 miles mostly on the old road. It was a beautiful night with a full moon partly covered by clouds but the moon provide lots of light and allowed me to run without a headlamp for a good portion of the run. 10 miles into the 60-mile run the dogs are really moving well. I am especially excited about Heckel and Rosie’s performance so far. They are little smaller and that first section of soft punchy trail was a lot of work for them, but they have bounced right back. Heckel is still loping like crazy and Rosie has settled into one of the most efficient trots of any of my dogs. Up ahead there is very sharp U turn that goes into a steep down hill with another sharp turn at the bottom. As we approach where I think the turn is we all of the sudden are all caught up in some trees I realize that I missed giving the command to Silver on time and he just blasted right into the trees that had been put there to direct us to turn right. I guess that’s what I get for running without a headlamp. We quickly make the correction and are headed down the hill we make the turn at the bottom and are back on track. 15 miles in we go onto the Gulkana river, pass under the bridge and follow the river or a few miles before heading into the woods and up into some hills. I know we are going to be strong in the hills but the dogs exceed my expectations. As we start climbing the dogs shift into another gear, with me kicking and poling and the dogs driving hard, it feels like we are gong faster then on the flats. We blast through the 4 mile section of switchbacks with no problems and hit a power line which we will travel on for the next 15 or so miles. This is a great section to pull the ski pole out and really make some ground. The trail is good and with help from me poling we are croozing along at 11-12 MPH and are having a great time. All the dogs are really looking good Silver once again is proving he has what it takes. Him and Madonna up front are a force; they do a great job of keeping a good pace and motivating the rest of the dogs to drive harder. Especially Madonna, she loves to go into these little bursts where she just starts driving really hard and everyone else has no other option but to do the same. During these bursts we are moving 14 miles a hour for 10-20 minutes, it is amazing. These little speed bursts are great for the dogs, they all seem to really enjoy it and we can really cover some ground. Some of the younger dogs are beginning to pick up on this and learn from Madonna’s lead, and have started becoming the motivation for some of these spontanieous bursts. Weather it is just a random burst of excitement or an animal motivating them to surge, it is great to see all the dogs come together and really giving their all. It is just like wind sprints for a runner, it is great for their conditioning as well as the our morale out on the trail. We are now about 50 miles into the run and the dogs have not skipped a beat. We have become a very well oiled machine and I am really looking forward to the rest of the race. I begin to smell wood smoke and hear dogs barking up ahead, a sure sign that we are getting close to the Chisto and the third checkpoint of the race. As the lights come into view the dogs pick up the pace they know that a good meal and a nice rest is ahead. We charge into the checkpoint and check in with the checkers. Kyla runs in front of the team and directs Silver to our resting spot as we pick up my drop bag on the way. It is the same spot we parked last year, but I am looking forward to having a totally different experience this year. Last year I had 3 females in heat and at Chisto is were it became very apparent that I was going to have a challenging race. None of males ate or slept the entire race and it all started here. This year everything is different no one is in heat and I have a very different team, same dogs just better training and more experience. I secure the team and once again go into my checkpoint routine. After finding no injures I start feeding. As I move from one dog to the next I am not getting the response I wanted. Silver and Madonna just looked at it; Ling Ling seemed scared and moved away. Then The Dude made me feel better as he devoured the entire bowl, Budget, Eagle and Tok messed with it but ate it all eventually, Rocky, Maud, Heckel and Rosie all turned away. Not good this is very frustrating to a musher especially coming off a great run. The dogs need to eat to keep their energy level high; a dog that doesn’t eat cannot perform at their highest ability. I took the food away tried some snacks with no luck and realized I needed to just leave them alone. This meant that I was going to have to try another feeding in couple hours. My plan was to rest between 5-6 hours depending on when other teams started moving, again, just like at Glennallen I wanted to get out before to many teams hit the trail and chewed it all up. I went in a little bummed out that the dogs did not eat like I had hoped, but knew that I needed to get some food and a little rest myself and give it another try in a couple hours. After a great Moose stew provided by the locals in Chisto I laid down for a short nap. As I laid on the treadmill in the little cabin where the mushers could rest I tried to figure out why the dogs didn’t eat. They all looked good on the previous run and were happy when they came in, what could it be. After realizing that that was a lost cause I dozed off for a few minutes before my alarm went off letting me know it was time to get up. I gathered my stuff and headed back to give the dogs another try at some food. This time as I came by with my cooler they all perked up and as I filled there bowls they ate it like I had never feed them before. One after another they ate everything I put in front of them. When the feeding frenzy was over I packed my sled up and headed inside for a quick pint of Ben and Jerry’s before I headed back out to booty and leave. As I ate my peanut butter cup ice cream I looked over the leader board and studied times, it looked good so far we were right where we needed to be. With the dogs pumped full of food I looked forward to a great 70 mile run to Paxson. As I took my last spoonful of Ben and Jerry’s one of the Vets asked me how I can eat a pint of Ice cream and then head out in -30 degree temps. I answered: “Its what keeps me going” I’ve got two more pints waiting for me in Paxson!!
Stay tuned for Chapter 3 Chisto to Paxson coming soon the race is just starting, there’s lots of excitement ahead!!
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