Nicole and Bretange (Bre Bre) of the 9-11 Crew. Bre was born on 9-11 and to honor the dogs that served our country during the search we named the Crew after them.
If one phase can sum up the 2012 Serum Run Boot Camp it would have to be:
Too Hot to Trot
It was unseasonably warm this past weekend and it played havoc on our plans for the serum run boot camp. Well not really. We all had a great time. The organizers will be the first to tell you that an event like this prides itself on being very fluid in their plans.
We were and we made it work.
After submitting our applications way back around Christmas and being selected in mid-January, I was ready for this weekend, no matter what it entailed.
We had a great group of participants: six dog teams and seven snowmachiners. This small group of mostly veterans of past serum runs was the perfect mix for a weekend on the rivers of South Central, Alaska. Being a rookie I was looking forward to listening and learning from the folks that have done this before.
I have run the river on several occasions but mostly just up to Yentna Station and back without much planning or preparation. This is the same route that we did this weekend but with a bit more logistics. I had no idea just how much gear it took to just run 35 miles.
It all started on Thursday evening with us packing and preparing for the weekend. I know I packed like a rookie in terms of food and drink but I packed a little too light on things that mattered. I forgot my shovel and enough trash bags and I should have brought at least one extra snack for the dogs.
Friday evening we all met at Eagelquest Lodge in Willow and had a dinner or ham and potatoes, baked beans, rolls and M&M cookies. My wife, Michele and daughter, Nicole, came along to support me in this adventure. It was why we moved to Alaska for goodness sake.
After dinner we had a meeting about the next day’s event’s, the trail, and our itneniary before retiring to our cabins for the evening.
The little cabin slept 5 and I took one of the twin beds upstairs. We stayed up late talking and telling mushing stories. I slept well sans the blaring night light. We had a meeting at 8:30 back at the lodge so we had to be ready to go by 10 am.
On Saturday morning it was pretty warm. About 28 degrees or so when we dropped the dogs from the dog trucks and gave them a quick meal.
After a nice breakfast of cinnamon rolls and juice we decided that the first teams would be out at 11:00 and we headed out to pack our gear.
I was third to go out and the run from Eaglequest to Luce’s lodge was a bevy of passing and playing “tag” with Joe’s Screaming Huskies team. I finally pulled ahead after Joe stopped for a few minutes.
At about mile 20 I stopped to snack the dogs with fish and noticed that Marble, my six year old Siberian, refused to eat it. She laid down and started dipping snow. Being the thickest coated dog on the team I could tell she was hot. We rested for a few and trudged on the the sugary, sometimes very deep snow, on the Yentna River.
In this part of Alaska they have had at least five feet of snow and the river is virtually a highway for the people that live along the banks and the 100s of snow machines training and racing along the river a break neck speeds.
At Luce’s lodge Marble quit on me and didn’t want to have any part of this game any longer. I loaded her up in the sled bag and away we went. Our snow machines carry all of our gear as well as a dog crate to carry a dog should they become injured, sick or otherwise quit.
Being so close to Yentna Station I didn’t see any snow machine support and rather than wait I decided to make Marble comfortable in the bag. I secured her with a neckline and left he flap open so she could stick her head out and enjoy the ride.
By the time I got going again I could see two other teams about 1/4 to 1/2 mile behind me so I knew if I had to stop again they would be there to help if I needed it.
The Serum Run and the boot camp is not a race. We are out there to help each other. That is the beauty of this type of an event.
We arrived at Yentna Station in 3 hours 40 minutes. Not bad in the warm weather and punchy conditions. I have done this run in as long as five hours so, not a bad run at all.
The “trail breaker” snow machines were already there and had already set up places for us to camp our dogs. Being first in I would be first out in the morning.
I immediately started my chores.
Dogs first in mushing. That’s just how we roll.
More to come…
Earthquakes are common in Alaska. In fact they happen every day. Check it out:
Daily = 50-100
Weekly = 400-700
Monthly = 1500-3000
Yearly = ~24000
I have lived here almost a year now. August 4th marks the anniversary. I can honestly say that I have never felt an earthquake until this morning at exactly 6:00 am. The 5.3 magnitude quake shook the house enough to wake me up from a dead sleep and spook the dogs enough that Raegan let out a woof. There was no damage (thankfully) but it only makes you wonder, what would happen if the ‘big one’ hit?
In 1964 it did. The following except is from Wikipedia:
The 1964 Alaska earthquake, also known as the Great Alaskan Earthquake, the Portage Earthquake and the Good Friday Earthquake, was a megathrust earthquake that began at 5:36 P.M. AST on Good Friday, March 27, 1964. Across south-central Alaska, ground fissures, collapsing buildings, and tsunamis resulting from the earthquake caused about 131 deaths.
Lasting nearly four minutes, it was the most powerful recorded earthquake in US and North American history, and the second most powerful ever measured by seismograph. It had a magnitude of 9.2, at the time making it the second largest earthquake in recorded history.
The powerful earthquake produced earthquake liquefaction in the region. Ground fissures and failures caused major structural damage in several communities, much damage to property and several landslides. Anchorage sustained great destruction or damage to many inadequately engineered houses, buildings, and infrastructure (paved streets, sidewalks, water and sewer mains, electrical systems, and other man-made equipment), particularly in the several landslide zones along Knik Arm. Two hundred miles southwest, some areas near Kodiak were permanently raised by 30 feet (9.1 m). Southeast of Anchorage, areas around the head of Turnagain Arm near Girdwood and Portage dropped as much as 8 feet (2.4 m), requiring reconstruction and fill to raise the Seward Highway above the new high tide mark.
In Prince William Sound, Port Valdez suffered a massive underwater landslide, resulting in the deaths of 30 people between the collapse of the Valdez city harbor and docks, and inside the ship that was docked there at the time. Nearby, a 27-foot (8.2 m) tsunami destroyed the village of Chenega, killing 23 of the 68 people who lived there; survivors out-ran the wave, climbing to high ground. Post-quake tsunamis severely affected Whittier, Seward, Kodiak, and other Alaskan communities, as well as people and property in British Columbia, Oregon, and California. Tsunamis also caused damage in Hawaii and Japan. Evidence of motion directly related to the earthquake was reported from all over the earth.
While the epicenter of today’s earthquake was 34 miles away in the Iditarord checkpoint of Skwentna, I could still feel a pretty good shake in Willow. It makes you wonder with all this…some call it ‘inadequate construction’, I call it Alaskan construction…what WOULD happen if another 9.2 magnitude quake rocked the Mat-Su Valley.
In my time here I have seen more houses held together with what appears to be duct tape than anywhere else I have lived in my life. I guess that the freedom of living in Alaska. The ability to stake you claim and build a place with no worries of ‘the man’ looking over your shoulder and mini Nazi government HOAs breathing down your neck. Mind you, not every home is like this in the Last Frontier, but a great deal of them from my observations, especially as you get further away from the booming metropolis of Anchorage.
I guess my point to all this is what would all these folks do with their sled dogs if this happened again? We are in the mushing capital of the world right? Well by the looks of things we are in the earthquake capital of North America too.
My question to you is: what emergency plan do you have in place for your pets?
Wheel dogs are those nearest the sled, and a good wheeler must have a relatively calm temperament so as not to be startled by the sled moving just behind it. Strength, steadiness, and ability to help guide the sled around tight curves are qualities valued in dogs.
Think of wheel dogs as the offensive linemen in football. These guys never get the glory of the TV commercials but they are an integral part of the team.
Swing Dogs in a dog sledding team help the leaders set the pace and aid in turning the team. If only the leaders wanted to turn in the direction of the musher’s commands, the team may not turn, so the swing dogs back the leaders up in these cases.
The job of the Team Dogs in a dog sledding team is to follow the dog in front of them and steadily pull. They provide the horsepower.
Depending on the race you are running will determine the make up of the team. For example in the Iditarod a team will start with 16 dogs. In a sprint race the team make-up often depends on the number of miles in the race (ie. a 4-dog team will often run a sprint race of 4 miles).
The International Sled Dog Racing Association (ISDRA) has set the standards for dog sled racing the the Untied States and they classes of races from one dog to unlimited.
Tomorrow: Wheel Dogs