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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Montana January 2009 Part 3

Friday, Jan. 2, 2009

We took 14 dogs and attached them, in harness to the front sled. We would be double sledding with me on the front sled so Doug could see how I handled a large team. Since my glasses were of no use because they either fogged up or fell off, I left them in my pocket. Without them, I was unable to see if my leaders and swing dogs had thrown booties. I would need to get contact lenses if I were going to run a large team. This was the first of many changes I would have to make. Doug wanted me to make mental notes about things that needed to be done and stop periodically to fix all of them instead of stopping, like a rookie, each time I saw a problem.

It was getting dark and I tried to turn the headlamp on that Doug had given me. Because I had not used it before, it took me several minutes to turn it on. My gloves had gotten cold and wet and I had taken them off. By the time I had turned on the headlamp, I had chill blain to the tips of my thumb, index, middle and ring fingers.*

My fingers two weeks later. Still peeling

We followed the same route that the race would go and ended up in Lincoln. This put me on some trails I had not been on before. To get there, we had to cross a couple of cattle guards. These are shallow ditches dug across the road with pipes laid longwise in them spaced several inches apart. This keeps cattle from wondering onto the main roads. If a dog team crossed an open cattle guard, they could break their legs as their feet went down between the pipes. Doug kept stopping the team to make sure the guards were covered or the gates were open beside them. We snubbed the team to a fence beside the road when we got into Lincoln. Melanie and John met us and we snacked the dogs with some kibble and water. I had maneuvered some ninety degree hairpin turns coming into Lincoln without any trouble and was feeling good about the run.  

After snacking the dogs, we turned and headed back to the dog yard. A blizzard began to blow, making it impossible to use the headlamp. The snow was blowing sideways and the light was reflected back into my eyes. By turning the headlamp off, I could see the dogs shadows on the snow, once my eyes adjusted to the low light. I made some rookie mistakes once we got back. I left some harnesses and the iodine ointment outside and they were frozen stiff. I learned to bring everything inside after that.

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