Search This Blog

Friday, February 4, 2011

Montana February 2010 Part 5

 At the helicopter pad I turned the team on the road, at Melanie’s suggestion, instead of making a loop through the deep snow. This involved releasing the back lines of the four dogs at the back of the team and taking the neckline between the leaders, then gently pulling them around as the other dogs followed, or sometimes stepped over into the group, causing some minor tangles. The backlines had been released to keep the team from bolting off. One dog, Nona (a possible future leader) had her leg wrapped tightly by her neckline and the gang line. Had the team bolted, her leg could have been torn off. We rested for 8 minutes before making the return trip.

It took us 48 minutes to get back to Reservoir Lake and another 87 minutes to get home. The trail out to Reservoir Lake uphill and took 65 minutes. The trip home was downhill and took 87 minutes. Doug had said that a common mistake novice drivers do is allow their dogs to run downhill. That’s how many of the dogs get hurt or pull a muscle. Let them run uphill but make them trot downhill. That’s just what I did. Going uphill, if they loped I stood on the sled, if they trotted I pedaled, if they walked I got off and ran behind the sled. Going down hill I stood on the steel brake and made them all trot. I finished the run in 4 hours and 15 minutes. I found out later that Doug had wanted me to do it in 3 hours 30 minutes or 4 hours. Not bad for my first solo expedition.

As we entered the yard, Gator staggered for 2 steps then collapsed. He was my best leader and my buddy. I set the snow hooks and ran to him as he lay unconscious on the ground. A lump was in my throat.

When I had returned to Montana, after Thanksgiving, Doug told me that Rodeo had died. He was the bear of a mountain man, 6 feet 3 inches, 300 pounds and full bushy beard, who had stood on the back of my sled last year to get me through the tight turns out of the lot where we had camped, after I had Doug reduce my right shoulder dislocation. He had been sick and in the hospital for a few days. They could not find anything wrong and sent him home. Two weeks later his 16 year old dog died and he went out in the woods to his favorite spot to bury him. He never returned. They found his body next to his dog.

No comments:

Post a Comment