Monday, February 22, 2010

February 22, 2010

Here it is February 22 already and what a different winter it has been from what we have experienced in the last two years, or any year since we moved here for that matter.  Snow has completely melted at our house and the ground is thawing.  The first crocuses are just pushing their leaves up hopefully through the soil surface.   A robin appeared in one of our maples a week ago and two blue birds have been investigating one of the bird houses.   I spotted the first ant colony becoming active out in one of the dog yards, worker ants tentatively working around the top of their mounded home.  Last year at this time we were still buried under at least a foot of snow.

Our last run on snow with the dogs was a little over two weeks ago at the Priest Lake Sled Dog Races, an event that we look forward to each winter.  This winter we missed our favorite trails through the woods, replaced by out and back routes on groomed snowmobile trails, a necessity brought on by the winter's paltry snowfall.  In spite of mother nature's insignificant offering this winter, we had enough snow to run and better yet it lasted the weekend.  We fielded two purebred teams in the 6 and 4 dog sprint classes as well as a skijoring team.   This year there were almost as many purebred as all breed teams.  For the first time Nova's young kids Rose, Pepper and Saffron led my 6 dog team in a race without the help of a more experienced alaskan husky leader.   Rose is the main leader of the group.  She is the dog on your right in this photo, still focused on the trail and the finish line.  They got alot of passing practice in this event which was good for them.   I don't think they were as excited about going out and back but then nearly all of our snow training trails are this way so it probably did not make too much difference.

I had alot of fun running my new 4 dog crew for the first time in the 4 dog purebred class.  This team is composed of three siblings and their half brother.  Cooper and her half brother McGee led the team with her brothers Ernie and Roper providing power and speed at wheel.  I don't have a picture of them from the race so this photo I took of them from my sled the week before will have to do.  These four dogs are so well matched it is beautiful watching them from my vantage point on the sled.   All four of them run stride for stride together.

Bob ran Ivan and Rolo in the skijoring class on a course that was the consistency of a snow cone the first day and a luge course the second.  He said he did not do alot of skiing the second day.

For now we have tucked our sleds away in storage, at least briefly, and we are going to dust off our scooters for the next few runs.  I'll miss the sled but am looking forward to a few scooter runs on local trails at Farragut State Park.  At least the driving time to the training runs will be short, under five minutes and the routes will be loops once again.  Farragut park has a several trails that we have tried and this time of year is perfect, especially first thing in the morning mid week.  Our current favorite is the "Lynx Trail" which is located on the south side of the highway and connects several of the Parks facilities.  The purpose of the trail is to allow visitors to walk from place to place without using the South Road.  The surface of this trail is very nice for the dogs and there is alot of opportunity for practicing directional commands.  We'll head over tomorrow morning so that all of us can stretch our legs a bit.

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