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Sunday, May 2, 2021

Spring? Not Just Yet...

After almost two weeks of sunny warm weather, we woke up to this the other day...

I'd meant to head out on the trail, maybe get down into the valley and check out the creek crossing, but wound up working on some projects around the house instead. By the time we went up on the trail today, this is what it looked like...

Lots of bare ground, not much of the recent snow left and the snowpack almost gone.  But at least I finished up on the sled pack that was started last month. Meant to get'er done for the dog sled trip to the park, but then that was cancelled (Blue Skies 3/21/21), so it sat for awhile. I've wanted to put pockets on the outside so it'd be easier to access the gear. Now I can put spare gloves in one, snow goggles in another, and maybe dog booties in the third. That way the main pack can hold all the ropes and extra gear and I won't have to fumble around, trying to find what I'm looking for, while the dogs are banging to go.

Happiness is a sled pack with lots 'o pockets!

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Spring Has Sprung...

This has been kind of an odd winter, with lots of snow storms followed by large temperature swings. The latest was the record breaking dump of snow noted in the previous post. That was followed by a week of twenty below, which broke the all time record low at the airport on two consecutive days, then a week of fifty to sixty above. 

Here's the driveway almost clear two weeks after the record snowfall and cold of early April; contrast this to the photo in the previous post (More Snow... 4/6/21).

The road at the dog trail crossing; compare it to the photo on the New Years Eve post. The neighbor borrowed a Bobcat and cleared off the hard pack, now it's great for driving, but not so much for dog sleds and snow machines.

The monthly summaries by the NWS showed above normal temps in December (+4.3°) and January (+6.4°), while February (-7.9°) and March (-5.5°) were below. Snowfall was the opposite, below average early on and above average in the latter months. Total snowfall for the winter, so far, has been 92 inches (that'd be 2.34 meters to the French).

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

More Snow...

The weather bureau's been predicting snow for the past couple of weeks, but it hasn't amounted to much until this past weekend. Most of the storms had skirted the area, we'd get maybe 2-3 inches, so barely enough to plow. But then the last one hit dead center and dumped over 16 inches of heavy wet snow. We're still not yet done shoveling!

Like my neighbor said, it's a good time to have a tractor.

With all the snow, the trails are pretty much snowed in, the Skidoo's in the garage awaiting a parts order, so the doggies just get to play in the yard. Good times in the dog yard!

Friday, April 2, 2021

Moose Redux...

 The dogs started barking last night, couldn't see anything, but figured the moose were back. This morning, they started barking again and when I looked out, saw this

This is the time of year when mama moose apparently ditches her calf, they're a year and half old now, and moves on with her life. The calf, hard to think of a baby that weighs several hundred pounds, seems lost, so we assume he's hanging around here since this is the last place he spent time with his mother. So I guess we'll just have to put up with him/her until it moves on with it's life. Thanks mom!

After a couple of hours, the moose wandered off, so we were able to get out on a dog run. Fortunately, didn't see any sign of the moose on the trail. Probably over at one of the neighbors place!

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Blue Skies...

I took the dogs out on the ten mile loop again. It was a beautiful day, blue skies with no wind. Everything went great until the second rest stop. They seemed to have calmed down by then, I don't get off the sled on the first stop, so I set the snow hook, walked around and petted them while checking their feet for ice balls. Everything was ok as I went back to the sled, stood on the brake while I pulled the hook, they jerked a bit, but I said "no, take it easy" or something like that, and started to put it in the holster. They all must have hit it at once cause all I remember is flying backwards, seeing blue sky, then slamming on my back onto the trail. I popped up just in time to see them disappearing down the trail. I figured they were long gone, but after walking a half a mile or so, there they were, lined out in the trail. The Manning snow hook had caught in the snow and saved me again. When they saw me, they turned around and came back towards me, getting all tangled up in the process. So after a few minutes of untangling dogs, while the younger ones barked and banged to go, we were on our way again. So that was yesterdays run. What I’m thinking now is that this team, with the three crazy youngsters and untrained leaders. maybe isn’t ready for a travel trip yet. If I lost them out on the some new trails, well who knows where they’d wind up. So I told my friend Bill I was canceling our planned trip for next week to the park. He was pretty bummed out, but hopefully he'll get over it. You have to run the team you have and accept their limitations, not the team you wish you had and do something stupid with them.

Here's the snow hook that saved my butt again. This is maybe the third time in the 25 years or so that I've used it that it stopped the team after I lost them. It was custom made by a former neighbor, Ned Manning, a machinist who built it for a friend. He apparently was never paid for it, so repossessed it and gave it to me. While it's seriously heavy, it does a fantastic job and I thank Ned, at least in my mind, every time it holds the team in place. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Ides of March...

 Just saw something on line today about the Ides of March, you can Google it up, but for me I realized it was the middle of March before I'd gotten the dogs out for a long run. Whenever it seemed like they were ready to go longer, it'd snow 3-4", drop to 20-30° F below, or the overflow would make the trails un-runnable. But today was the day when the gods smiled on us, the weather was great, maybe ten above, the overflow had frozen over from the last cold spell, and the trail was good to go. When we got over the hill and down into the valley, they normally start to slow down, but instead they took off, like they smelled a moose or something. Well that wasn't good, but soon I smelled it too, the unmistakable smell of a 2-stroke engine. So there was a snow machine out, no big deal I thought, we'll never see him since he's probably going a lot faster than we are. But no, there on the first long straight away was a snow machine, obviously going slower than we were. So I slowed the dogs down, this is normally the fastest part of the run, but we kept gaining on him. Then I saw the dog. He was running a dog in front and probably stopped to give it a rest. So I stopped too and yelled "trail, dog team." Figured he'd get going, but no, just sat there, didn't hear me, I guess. But the dog did, started jumping up and down and headed straight for us. All I could think of is dog fight, vet bills! But he must have called him back, as they soon took off again. So I held well back and we stayed there until they were out of sight. Fortunately they were going the same way, so the dogs, that were still chasing them, followed on all the turns. Well the rest of the run was pretty uneventful, except for crossing the overflow, which is always exciting, and we finally had our longer dog run. 

Heading home across the flats, the dogs going really well under bright blues skies, it don't get much better than that.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Look Who Followed Me Home Part 2

 Just like the previous post, this was another routine dog run out into the valley and back. The only thing of note was the new trail markers set out by a local club that was having a dog race. They do it most every year and it's no big deal, they only use a small segment, maybe 3-4 miles of the same trail we run. and so far, had never seen any of the racers. So after we got back, unhooked the dogs, gave them a snack, then went over to start the tractor. It had snowed a couple of inches overnight, so wanted to get the driveway plowed. Right about then the dogs started barking, so walked back towards the dog yard and saw a dog team where the trail starts/ends. Behind that team was second one, bunched up in the little space left to them. The lead musher was screaming at his dogs, who were certainly confused by it all, so couldn't figure out where to go. When I finally got down there, he hadn't paid any attentions to me up to then, I yelled "what are you trying to do?" "Going to take that trail there" he yelled back over the cacophony of the dogs. Well that was the tractor trail to the garden and compost piles, so told him no, he needed to turn his dogs around where they were and go back on the trail they came in on. He didn't want to do that but eventually convinced him that was the way go to get back to the race. Surprisingly, he quickly turned his team around, and after a short stop, passed the team behind him and was soon gone. I helped the guy behind him get turned around, gave him directions to get back to the main trail, and then he was gone too. From what he said, they apparently missed a marked turn, saw our tracks in the fresh snow, and followed them thinking it was a race team. The whole thing took just a few minutes, but seemed a lot longer.

Didn't have a camera, so this is a pic of our team after todays run. Imagine two teams lined up here, with ten or more dogs each, barking and trying go somewhere, anywhere else!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Look Who Followed Me Home...

Yesterdays dog run was nothing special until the end. Just before I got back to the yard, the trail follows the power line and I could see some fresh tracks. Didn't look like a snow machine, almost like a 4-wheeler,   the way they paralleled each other. But only got a quick look before the trail curved into the dog yard. I quickly forgot about it as I unharnessed the dogs and we got them a snack. I was just getting a cup of coffee when the dogs started barking, so looked outside and this is what we saw...

Apparently the tracks I saw were the cow moose and her calf walking together down the power line. For whatever reason they decided to come into the yard and munch on the low birch, maybe fifty feet from the dogs. They just hung around for awhile, so I finally went outside and started yelling and clapping my hands. After about five minutes, they slowly wandered off, not very impressed by my act. Later on we heard they did the same thing in our neighbor's yard until he shooed them off. Urban moose, they pretty much do what they want and you just have to deal with it.

Saturday, February 13, 2021


With the colder weather, it's been well below zero here and down to thirty below in town,  not much else to do except run dogs.

The dogs have been running well and need to be challenged on longer runs. But it's hard to do that in the extreme cold we've had.

Here's the team back in the dog yard, the only safe place to get a picture like this. Mac and Gus are real line bangers, so it's not a good idea to walk too far away from the sled, even with two snow hooks set in the trail.

After a cold run, here's my attempt at a "selfie". Have to try to get more dogs in the pic and remember to keep my mouth shut next time!

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Sled Rescue...

The old Ski Doo has been kind of problematic this winter. Whenever I've had to work on it, it seems to run pretty good for a while, but then it has some issues, hard to start, misfiring, or just quits running. Unfortunately, the last time it quit was when I was on the other side of the valley, maybe 3-4 miles out. When I couldn't get it running again, I had a long walk home to think about it. The next day I called my neighbor Butch and he said no problem, I'll get my wide track machine ready, bring a jack and come along to load it up. and we'll haul it out with my sled. So that's what we did.

Butch at our place after hauling it back, proudly standing by the rescued sled with his stalwart Polaris. It went so well, we were back in less than two hours. While they say good neighbors make good fences, they also make sled rescues seem easy!

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Random Stuff...

Been outside a lot doing random chores since the temps have been 10-15° above normal. Got the old Ski Doo running after it quit the other day. Replaced the voltage regulator and put in new plugs, now it runs like a top again, so used it to break out a new section of trail for the dog team.

The dogs have been running the same loop for a while now, so they'll appreciate getting to see some new trail.

Finally finished  the plow installation on the wheeler and used it to plow the inch or so of snow we got this week. It'll be interesting to see how it works when we get a serious dump. So now both Guzzi's await repair, voltage regulator on the 850 and carb rebuild on the 650.

The clouds cleared off and the sunsets have been pretty spectacular. But it's supposed to cool off and be 20-30 below by mid-week.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

New Dog...

Since the team has been doing so well this winter, I gave up on my search for a new leader and figured we'd get by with the ones we have. But the woman who we got Mac the puppy from sent an email saying she had to leave town for some family emergency and would I take her dog, Mac's mother. Well that was a surprise, to say the least, but she had told me before that she skied and  biked with the dog in harness and it was a good puller who lined out well. So I mentioned it to Andy, figuring she'd say "hell no" but to my astonishment, she agreed to it. 

Luna, a two year old female, looks nothing like Mac, but has some of his mannerisms and bark. She's a furry little thing!

Here's a pic of the team on the run yesterday. She started off doing real well, but then started to look around and slack off about half way out. Gave the team a short rest, while petting and talking to her, and then she did better on the way back. I guess we'll just have to see how it goes next time.