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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Montana December 2008 Part 2

First snowfall Montana 2008

Life settled into a familiar routine with me getting up two hours before everyone else. I would eat breakfast, usually eggs, tea and toast; then got back to read or exercise. The morning chores began about eight o’clock with the feeding of the six house dogs and letting them out, feeding the puppies in the puppy yard and feeding the horses before going up to the dog yard to feed, water and scoop poop. My lessons in mushing would begin after the chores were done. It had been unseasonably warm with daytime highs in the 60’s and nighttime lows in the 40’s. The first three days we did cart training with the dogs pulling an ATV.
Doug's house in the western pines

Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008
We awakened to a snowfall that had blanketed the ground overnight with a few inches of snow. It would continue to dump eight inches of snow over the next twenty-four hours. After chores were done, Doug came flying up into the yard on the ATV dragging a sled behind. He told me to hop on the sled and he roared out of the dog yard, down the trail. He made a sharp turn and I fell off. He stopped, got off and walked back up the trail and analyzed what had happened and why I had fallen off. He could tell by the tracks in the snow how I had been leaning the wrong way. This was the first of many lessons he would share with me to teach me how to control myself, the dogs and the sled. I had made a good decision to train with him. For the next twenty minutes we went flying around the country with him trying to dump me again. But I hung on. I was now bending my knees and crouching so low that my butt was nearly rubbing the ground. We went back to the yard and hitched the dogs to pull a double sled with Doug on the front sled and me on a drag sled behind him. We continued training like this for the next five days with more dogs, going greater distances until Dec. 6. I still fell a few times but I never let go of the sled. Doug had told me, “No matter what happens, DO NOT LET GO. Everything you need to survive is on the sled. Without it you could die. Without a driver the dogs can get injured, dragged or die.” I was proud of the fact that even though I fell many times I never let go.

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