Monday, Feb. 8, 2010
John and I ran dogs today. It was a picture perfect photo postcard day. The sun was shining brightly in a cloudless robin’s egg blue sky with fast hard packed snow and the temperature between 10-20 degrees.
I took ten dogs and John had nine. I ran the same big dogs I ran when I finished in 3 hours 55 minutes, with two additional yearlings. We got to Reservoir Lake in 60 minutes and turned around. Our return trip to the house took 45 minutes. This was much faster than my best run. John was letting all his dogs lope going downhill. I did the same at times in order to keep up with him.
On the back of a dogsled, you hear and see things you couldn’t on a motorized vehicle. At the turn around at Reservoir Lake I heard the sound of a steam engine blowing its whistle off in the distance. This high in the mountains there were no trains anywhere. It was the sound of a bull elk trumpeting. On a previous run a group of five deer jumped the trail in front of me. As long as I was with the dogs, I was part of the team.
At the entrance to the dog yard we turned our teams down the main trail and continued to follow the race route. A little further on we stopped and John suggested we switch teams. I would be driving his race sled, the one he had just used to secure his ninth place finish in the stage race in Wyoming. It was like getting out of a minivan and getting into a corvette. I was humbled that he would trust me with it. We continued on with John goofing around, running up the hills beside the my sled then jumping on the sled bag and sitting like a tourist up front. A little farther down the trail he stopped and brought one of my dogs back to his sled to be carried in the bag. She had started to limp and could not run anymore. I had noticed her gait change a few times while I had her, but she always got back into her usual gait. I still had to learn how to tell when a dog wasn’t running right. She had a mild strain and would be fine with some rest.