May 24th, 2010 - Book in the Works!
In response to many folks suggesting that Hank should write a book on his adventures, we are starting to pen an e-book. Would love to hear what all of you would specifically enjoy reading about!
May 16th, 2010 - Unique Gig
Cobourg High School Prom, never seen anything quite like this before! From our dog team to Hummer Limo's, from horse & carriage to massive crop sprayers. Check out the pictures to see some of the amazing ways these kids got dropped off at the red carpet of their prom! Pictures of the dog team arrival still to come.A special package arrived from Scotland yesterday compliments of Billy from Iditarod team Wattie. Hanks signed bottle of wine from Nome, BUT in addition to Hank's signature on it are also notes from bac
May 13th, 2010 - Delivery from Scotland!
A special package arrived from Scotland yesterday compliments of Billy from Iditarod team Wattie. Hanks signed bottle of wine from Nome, BUT in addition to Hank's signature on it are also notes from back of the packers Wattie, Pat Moon, Celeste Davis & Jane Faulkner. Thanks Billy and all, that will be a bottle of wine to treasure!! From our quick calculation that bottle travelled from North Dakota to Anchorage to Nome, to Anchorage, to Scotland and finally back to Canada - about 12,000 + miles!
May 11th, 2010 - Next Winter's Adventures...
Hank has decided on his and the teams adventures for winter 2011. They are headed to Al Hardman's Seney 400 in Michigan (his favourite race) in January, and to fulfill the dream of running and completing a 1000 mile race, Yukon Quest here we come! His friend Ed the Sled has convinced him to finish out the season with the Hudson Bay Quest. Dogs have been in trucks and planes, time to add trains to their resume (the only way to get to the HBQ). To make all this happen we will be hosting several fundraisers, and seeking a great fit for a corporate sponsor. If any of our facebook friends have ideas of a company who would be a perfect fit for what Hank and his team represent we'd sure appreciate hearing from you!
May 3rd, 2010 - Welcome Home Gifts
When Hank arrived home he had lots of mail to be opened from school children from New York, Oregon, New Jersey, Oklahoma, California, Maine, New Jersey & Kentucky. Messages & cards from fans & friends, gourmet dog cookies (the dogs LOVED them) for the race team and even a sock replica of Loretto made by Mrs. Kerr's grade 2 class. Several new folks became sponsors and our first tank of gas was paid for. All for the love of running dogs. Thank you everyone!
May 2nd, 2010 - Gift from a Champion
Somewhere between Haliburton and Anchorage Hank misplaced his laddle that he uses to feed dogs. After searching numerous stores for the correct size, one morning dropping dogs beside Lance Mackey, Hank asked him if he knew where he could find a laddle in Anchorage. Lance said he would get back to him on it. That night when Hank went out to drop dogs there was a brand new laddle on the hood of our truck. Lance would take no money for it, saying only pay me back by getting to Nome. One of the first things Hank said when he called from Unalakleet is "I won't be able to keep my promise to Lance.....". An amazing, down to earth, humble man, enough can't be said about Lance Mackey, his family and their kindness to all of us.
May 2nd, 2010 - Gifts of Haliburton Gold
Gifts of Haliburton Gold - Thanks to Wintergreen Maple Products & the Dawson Family, bottles of their delicious maple syrup travelled to Alaska with Hank as gifts to folks along the way for kindness and generosity. We are sure these families will love having Haliburton's fabulous maple syrup grace their breakfasts table! Thank you Wintergreen!
March 28th, 2010 - Team Winterdance Back Home!!!!!
March 27th, 2010 - Letters
Good news on the letters from school children that Hank didn't get to deliver to Shaktoolik, Kaltag, Koyuk, Nome, Elim, White Mountain & Golovin. Our friend & Rookie Pat Moon personally delivered the Nome letters to his surprise they were expecting them! Rookie Middie Johnson Unalakleet's mayor said he would do his best to get the rest of the letters to the other villages. Thanks Pat & Middie for your help!
March 26th, 2010 - Homecoming - Part 1
Girls are home, boys & dogs 1/2 way. Tons of kind words to Hank from mushers, volunteers & fans. Hank's visits so far have been fun, Bonnie at Chickaloon thanks for your offer, Quest Marshal Hans thanks for your encouragement & info. Lots of wildlife 80 Buffalo, elk, caribou & 2 dashing moose at dark slowed the drive considerably last night! Sibe team still ahead of Moon & Herst's Alaskans on the road.
March 22nd, 2010 - Heading Home
Hank, Ward, Logan, Dustyn & dogs are about to hit the road for Ontario. Thank you for all the incredible support, and invitations to stay and/or visit across the continent. They will take as many invitations as possible. It is a bittersweet departure, anxious to get home, excited about the journey we had, but a bit of an empty feeling as well. Over the next few days we will get the remaining photos and posts up.
March 19th, 2010 - A Message from Hank
For over the past decade Iditarod has consumed our dreams and focus. For me and many mushers the Iditarod is the holy grail of dogsledding. Joe Redington's incredible dream has consumed & called to many mushers who love challenging themselves and their dogteam on the ultimate journey. But it astounds me that our dream has caught the attention of all of you, that is something I did not figure on. Ward & Tanya showed me just a fraction of the posts, forums and emails last night, it is mind blowing and brought smiles, laughs and lots of emotion. Thank you all, I can't explain how much it means to all of us.
The Iditarod is an incredible event, Joe Redington's dream was a huge one, and up until 2 nights ago everything that I had imagined the race to be, became reality and even surpassed my expectations. The excitement of Alaska and the fans that built the week before, to be a part of that is indescribeable. The start and restart are amazing and it is hard to not be emotional as you leave that gate with so many people who don't even know you cheering you on, wishing you best of luck, handing you food, treating you like a hero. The other mushers in the race; it is an absolute honour running among some of the best dog teams and mushers in the world. What a phenomenal group of people they all are. In particular the support, kindness & encouragement shown us by Lance Mackey, Zack Steer, Aaron Burmeister, Jake Berkovitz, Vern Halter & Bill Borden will never be forgotten. Lance embodies what a champion is in every way possible, the kind of hero you are proud to have your children look up to.
The trail and the villages; nothing prepares you for this, the landscape leaves you breathless, the people make you feel like you are going home to long lost friends and the generosity they show is like nothing I have ever experienced before. Thank you to everyone that I had the privilege to meet and who shared a meal, suggestion, laugh, conversation or wisdom with me. You are all a huge part of what made this journey so memorable. The excitement and joy I felt when I delivered the packages of mail to the villages from our childrens and Ms. Kerr's classes brought tears to my eyes. To the vets & volunteers who give of their time to support all of us and while they may not run teams, from my and Tanya's observation they are as passionate and addicted to this journey and sold on old Joe's dream as us mushers. Thank you all, none of it would be possible without them, they may not realize how their smiling faces and kind words, and compassion towards our dogs encourage all involved.
I am so proud of my dogs, they made me so proud. We ran through white out blizzards, through the Alaska range with snow so deep that if the dogs went off the trail they completely disappeared, and wind so strong you would try to put straw down for them and watch it get whipped away before it hit the ground, we ran through the burn with no snow, definately the roughest trail I have ever been on, along the Yukon River in temperatures that I had feared. Our last night, I was told by a villager had been -50F on the river with a head wind, you turn your face into that and it is like razor blades on your skin, and still while the dogs slowed down they pushed on.
In Nulato, I pulled in in time to see and talk to Celeste & Jane, we compared our run schedules and would have met up before Unalakleet. They had planned to stay in Kaltag and Old Women's and I was going straight through Kaltag to Tripod Flats and than straight to Unk. Ward flew into Nulato to see me and said he would be waiting in Unk for us, I had no doubt at that point the team and I would get to Nome. Ward encouraged me to leave early from Nulato, said several veterans had advised me to get out of there fast, but I was told by folks there to stick to my schedule that I had no worries with how the team was moving. The vet gave our team a good report and said he saw no problems with them running to Nome, other than Lily being a bit thin but she was still eating & running well so he said keep going.
I planned to stay 7-8 hours and as I finished loading my sled, a volunteer kindly took my meal to heat up for the trail and I had booties pulled out to be put on, another volunteer came out and avoiding looking me in the eye said Mark wanted to talk to me before I left. My heart sunk, I couldn't imagine this would be a pleasant conversation, apparently Ward & Tanya's sources had been correct, I should have left sooner. In hind sight I should never have answered the call, should have pulled the hook and left at that moment and I would still likely be on the trail, but when you don't sleep for more than a few hours for days on end, your brain doesn't think as clear as normal so I went in.
It should be noted that before that moment Mark Nordman had been incredibly kind to both Tanya & I, from the signup to the rookie meeting to our 24 in McGrath for which we were and are grateful. The phone call that ensued questioned why the team had run so slow into Nulato and told me I was the slowest team in 15 years to do that stretch. I tried explaining about the cold, the wind, this being new for my dogs but they did it. I tried saying we had the wind at our back now and would make much better time, how we were going through Kaltag and would be caught up with the back 2 teams by Unk, that we were still well within the mandatory cut off times (by almost a full day), but nothing I said received any encouragement. I was left with the opinion that I either pull the plug in Nulato or run to Kaltag and have this conversation all over again with the same outcome. If it was to end in 30 miles anyway I saw no point in asking my dogs to keep going. And with that with no time to reconsider or to call home for perspective, the dream, the time and the investment all seemed for naught.
I was certainly aware of the new cutoff times and had planned to run a 13 day Iditarod with even run even rest and said that to anyone who asked, and everyone told me that would be fine, I would get there. It was no secret, my run was going as planned leaving me lots of buffer time against the new cutoff times but I guess that wasn't enough. I was on my own, we had fallen behind after our tough run from Nikolai where like Tom Thurston I was rotating how many dogs were riding in the sled, than came the 24 so I was still behind 5-6 hours, and that can't be caught up in day but we should have caught the next teams within that day. I am perfectly comfortable running on my own, and actually enjoy running that way where I can keep the dogs at a pace that is right for them. Indeed I had spent much of the last 400 + miles on my own.
Any Rookie and many of the Iditarod mushers know we have no chance of winning the Iditarod, so the Iditarod must be about so much more than that or there wouldn't be 70 + teams sign up every year. As the Iditarod's website itself says "The Spirit of Alaska! More Than a Race… a Commemoration
The race pits man and animal against nature, against wild Alaska at her best and as each mile is covered, a tribute to Alaska's past is issued. The Iditarod is a tie to — a commemoration of — that colorful past.The Iditarod is a commemoration of those yesterdays, a not-so-distant past that Alaskans honor and are proud of. Each musher, whether in the top ten, or winner of the Red Lantern (last place) has accomplished a feat few dare to attempt. Each has gone the distance and established a place for their team in the annals of Iditarod lore." This is why we entered.
We have been asked what we plan to do, people have suggested lawsuits and lawyers, Iditarod has said they are wondering if they have a lawsuit on their hands. We have no desire to sue the Iditarod. What good would it do? Maybe get back some of our $50k+ investment to race this year, but maybe not and in the process further financially weaken the incredible dream of the great Joe Redington, that is the last thing we would ever want. What I would like though is an explanation from the ITC as to why that phone call that ended our dream was made when according to their own rules we were running fine. I would also like assurances that Rule 36 would be rewritten again, to lay out with no blurred lines when a team will no longer be considered "competetive". Is it when you fall 10 hours behind the last team, is it when you are a checkpoint behind? No Rookie team, after having invested all the time & money and met all of the qualifying standards it takes to get to Iditarod, should ever be left worrying and wondering if they will be getting a phone call from the race marshal because they are last (someone has to be!), they should know straight up that they are fine or that they are not. This is what I want to see happen, and if letters or emails from fans and Iditarod supporters will help accomplish that I think it will only benefit the race for mushers, fans and sponsors in the long run.
While the race certainly didn't end the way we had envisioned and there will be no celebration in Nome for our team & family, it was an amazing journey. People ask if I will come back and run Iditarod again, 2 days ago I said never, now I don't know. Without major corporate sponsors most people can't afford to do this race every year, it took us 3 years to save & fund raise to get here. Maybe if the ITC clarified their rules so they weren't random we might someday....Running our team under the burled arch in Nome is a dream that won't die easily after over a decade long obsession. But what I can guarantee is that the Winterdance huskies have not run their last great adventure, maybe the Yukon Quest should have been our dream, but whenever or wherever we go next, we would be honoured to have all of you along for the journey. Thank you again for your support, you will never know how much it means to me and my family & team.
My wish is that all of you are dreaming and planning your own amazing adventures!
Happy trails to all and may the spirits of the trail run with you, like they did with me along the Burn.
March 18th, 2010 - Reunion
Hello from Wasilla Alaska I am happy to say as of tonight we now have Hank and 13 dogs back with us and can't say how happy we are. To all our 1200 plus fans THANK YOU for all the kind words and support over the last 36 hours. As I have read you all are interested in Hanks stories and adventures, but please realize none of us have any idea how hard the last 11 days have been mentally and physically on him, being his Handler at every race he has run I know he needs a couple days of rest to feel better, so please allow him some sleep and family time and I will assure you that when he feels like himself he will read the posts on here and will be happy to share his experiences with you. THANKS
Ward out from Alaska.
March 17th, 2010 - Please Wait for Hank
As a friend and past employee of Hank and the Winterdance team I would like to say thank you for all your support and opinions on this matter. This being said, I'm pretty certain that Hank would NOT want anything done on his behalf, such as sending in letters, until he has the chance to tell his side of the story. In other words, please continue to be patient and continue to be supportive to Hank, Tanya, Ward, family, Barb, and team, and please refrain from taking any direct action to the Iditarod committee or anywhere else.
I'm quite certain Hank would appreciate that everyone has his back, however, it is up to him to reveal the whole truth and up to the Winterdance team to deal with this situation as they see it best. In the near future I'm quite certain either Ward or Tanya will post more detailed information and stories about this great adventure! So please stay "tuned" for those posts!
Thanks so much all!
Jon Silcox, Winterdance Guide
March 16th, 2010 - Call from Hank
Talked to Hank for an hour, he had not planned on scratching in Nulato or anywhere else & had his sled packed & was about to bootie. He had wanted to catch the next teams but if not was aiming for the fastest Red Lantern ever. He is upset, angry, heartbroken & disillusioned for starters. He & dogs are in Unalakleet ...with Ward & will fly out tomorrow. Lots to share once we have everyone safely together again!
March 16th, 2010 - Still no answers....
Still no news, Headquarters can tell me little, can't reach the race marshal or Hank. We have made so many friends from this adventure one of the best being Pat Moon, Pat has been digging at the Millenium and found out the team will have to be flown out at different times since it is a small airstrip. They will go to Unk first where Ward is and than by Thursday hopefully all will be back to Anchorage.
March 16th, 2010 - ???????
Not sure what has happened, have not heard from Hank but see on the Iditarod website he has just scratched...... I am very confused considering what he and Ward talked about just several hours ago and his last words to Ward of see you in Nome. Will try to find out more an let everyone know. Can only imagine how Hank is feeling.....
March 16th, 2010 - Nulato
Watch for Hank to pull out of Nulato shortly he had advice to leave after 4 hrs to catch teams in front but he and officials decided it would be best to keep on his run/rest schedule. The race judge & everyone else in Nulato have been great to him telling he is moving well & has nothing to worry about at the pace he is going. Ward found Hank in good spirits & happy to continue on today he will update more soon!
March 16th, 2010 - Nulato
Hank is into Nulato! Ward should be there waiting for him, looks like another gorgeous day on the Yukon!
March 16th, 2010 - Converging on Nulato
Thank you everyone for the kind words & encouragement. Ward is flying to Nulato right now & will pass them on. He also has a message & some strategy for Hank from Iditarod finisher Bill Borden a finisher, that should make him feel more optimistic & also keep the judges happy with him.
March 15th, 2010 - And the Decision is.... Running To Nome!!!
Hank left Galena tonight for a 43 mile run to Nulato around 12:30 pm, 8 hours after arriving with all 13 dogs. Beautiful but (-30C ) cold night out on the Yukon River, hopefully some northern lights will light his way!
March 15th, 2010 - To Go or Not To Go, That is the Question.....
Hank called late this afternoon after arriving in Galena. Every Rookie is told more times than I can count that it isnt if you will consider scratching while on the trail it is when and how many times, they are told to have several numbers in your pocket that you can call to get some perspective.
Champ Martin Buser tells them to put his name on the list and not to scratch until they have talked to everyone on your list and since he wont be reachable you cant scratch! Hank hit that point this afternoon. Between his sleep deprevation and disappointment that the musher behind him had scratched and feeling like the race judges were pushing him to move faster than he felt the dogs could he was wondering if he should call it a race.
I could never make that decision for him, but after going over the cut off times with him and how far ahead of them he is (21 hours ahead of when he had to be in Galena) and not having to be to Unalakleet until Friday early am, and hearing that Ward was out on the trail and heading his way, he decided to go feed the dogs, and get a quick nap. He was thinking about dropping 1 or 2 dogs, Jed who is young and he wasnt sure wanted to go any further, and Andy had a sore wrist but he was going to see how it looked after the team had a rest. Got some advice for him from mushing legend Vern Halter to not scratch but keep going, if that far along the dogs can do it and way too far in now to thrown in the towel if dogs were good! I hope to see him on the trail around 12:30-2:30 am, Ward should be meeting him in Nulato with any luck to offer some encouragement and a familiar face!
March 15th, 2010 - Speeding down the Yukon
As Ward & Barbs plane is delayed Hank is speeding along the Yukon at 7.7 mph. He always says it takes 5-10 miles into a run to work out dogs stiffness & get down to the run at hand. Zack Steer said after the first 5 or so days of Iditarod Sibe & Alaskan teams move the same speed, but in those first few days the Alaskan teams get alot further ahead... He is running faster than almost any team out there at the moment.
March 15th, 2010 - Yukon River
He is out of Ruby at a nice 6.1 miles per hour with all 13 dogs, glad he is moving now before the wind kicks up for the day!
March 14th, 2010 - Moving Well
Hank moving well at 6-7 mph into Ruby, should be in by dark & will spend the night for 8 hr mandatory rest hope he calls! Little info right now b/c no communication is available from Takotna to Ruby, big black hole they say. Glad to see he is running 13, means Lily & Loretto are back in the game. Emil still in Cripple... from the stats and with no GPS hard to know. Lance is putting on quite the show once again!
March 14th, 2010 - Checkpoint Bags
Folks are asking me about the checkpoint bags, so thought I would offer a quick breakdown. 3 bags are sent to almost every checkpoint (except Finger Lake, Yentna, Golovin) because they are close to other checkpoints. Within the 3 bags you have a labeled freeze bag where you put all your frozen meats and human food, than you have 2 other bags. For us the freeze bags were filled with hamburger, salmon, steak, liver, chicken skins all human grade since it helps ensure the meat stays good by the time the teams arrive. The freeze bag every effort is made to keep it frozen should temperatures get above freezing. For Hank's other bags, his bag #1 has kibble between 20-60lbs per checkpoint, 1-2 sets of booties for each dog, chore gloves for Hank to use while working around the checkpoint. His bag #2 includes any and everything else. Plastic for his sled runners, extra socks, gloves and clothing, hand & foot warmers, extra harnesses, blankets and coats for the dogs in case some get lost/wrecked, new boot liners, foot creams & ointments for the dogs, extra dog bowls, lip gloss, his village mail bag and snacks for Hank. Basically you try and anticipate everything you could need over 14 days and where you will most need it. For Hank his snack bags include juice pouches which he can throw into his cooker to melt and than put in his pockets leaving a checkpoint, a large bag of trailmix (nuts, seeds, fruits and M&M), chocolate bars, fruit cups and meat sticks. His food is varied, there is pizza, hamburgers, lots of eggs, bacon and hash browns, salmon, mashed potatoes, steak casserole, rice & mushrooms and home baked apple pie, cookies and brownies.
After MUCH problem the bags were shipped (1700 lbs) from Haliburton to Tacoma Washington with special permits for the meat. Thank you again to Hutchinson Transport and Anna & Chris who took the skids when no one else would!!!!! From Tacoma they board a Horizon Line ship and head up to Anchorage, from there they are flown out along the trail and sorted at each checkpoint by volunteers into alphabetical order to mushers can easily find their bags. They each have the mushers name on them and our kids included some art work as well!
When Hank goes through a checkpoint inside his number 2 bag is a "return bag" he can put anything (other than dog and people food) in there and it will be sent back to Anchorage for us to pick up. All left over food once the checkpoint is closed is offered to the village people to feed their dogs and also to them for the people food. It is a small token for the efforts the villages put into helping with the race & teams.
March 14th, 2010 - He's in Cripple!!!
March 14th, 2010 - Mailman Hank
Some extra joy that Hank is having along the trail is delivering a package in each village checkpoint to the school children. Our son Dustyn's Grade 3 class each picked a checkpoint with a school and have wrote letters to the children there. Along with some stickers that we have included each school along the way will be reading greetings from children in Haliburton! Children in Ruby will get 2 letters as a school in New York state that one of our cousins attends sent along a letter and gifts as well for Hank to carry. All the packages were shipped out in his drop bags so he is thoughly enjoying opening the bags to find the packages to hand over. I know the kids in both Haliburton & New York are looking forward to maybe getting some replies back!
March 13th, 2010 - Strider, Ebony, Sapphire & I back in Wasilla
HI Everyone wow you have been busy since I left welcome to all our new fans and thanks yet again for all the kind words and wishes! Woke up to another beautiful sunny day in McGrath with the temperature on the cafe window where we slept reading about -40 F although we were told it wasn't quite that cold..... I expected to go out and have my breath taken away with the cold, but it wasn't what Mark Nordman told Hank at the sign up picnic in June was true, he would take -40 F on the Yukon anytime compared with -20 in Minnesota/Ontario the air is just that much drier. You need lots of clothes on but you can definately feel comfortable outside.
The cafe was bustling this morning with pilot's & vet's being flown out to different checkpoints further up the race, working on getting the dropped dogs & scratched teams that came in late yesterday out to Anchorage (there would be no big NAC plane today to help) and than the dropped dog crew up to Unalakleet along with all the race logistics. As the race moves along the Yukon Unalakleet (or Unk as it is called) becomes the hub of activity where everything is staged out of. The logistics behind this race would impress any military and it is almost totally volunteers!
Update on Justin's dog Whitey as I was leaving the cafe, a call came in that someone had seen it this morning in town and Justin was talking to them. It is looking promising that they will get her back which is wonderful news!!!! Sadly Justin had to scratch without the dog being back in his team yesterday. His team when they were brought to the dropped dogs are going nuts they are so well rested and want to run!!.
Had a nice visit with Tom Thurston who scratched in Ophir and ran his team back to McGrath to be flown out. A tough and super nice guy, my heart went out to him as we talked about his young family back home in Colorado and the $50k and huge amount of time invested in this race. He had a similar experience as Hank his run from Rohn on was a challenge, and like Hank he had to keep putting dogs in his sled over the burn, unfortunately his dogs just didn't seem to bounce back after their 24 hour rest and he decided it was best for them to call it quits for this year, he has already finished one Iditarod and has trained his team well, he like Hank doesn't understand what happened in those 2 runs....
Hank's moving great! Talked to several people this morning including the Takotna checkers who saw him yesterday and they said he and the team were moving beautifully and looked happy. Apprently he came into Takotna had a couple of buritos and kept going! He was planning on staying in Ophir for 6-8 hours but seems to have decided to take that rest away from the checkpoint, not sure why unless the dogs were still moving well and he wanted to go on a bit further in the nice weather in order to make the remainder of the run to cripple in one leg today.
Talk at the cafe is can Jeff hold off Lance and the pack, it would seem since than Lance has taken the lead! To answer questions, Barron's GPS seems to be lost, Churkin is travelling close to Hank and also has no GPS, Jane Faulker has had 2 GPS and neither are working she is running with Davis, Adams. Ward picked up our dogs this morning in the Anchorage women's correctional centre, I'll let him tell that story but the dogs were happy to see their truck and friends again, and the 4 dogs we had here were also happy to have some of their team mates back with them!
March 13th, 2010 - Greeting from McGrath
Hi everyone from VERY chilly McGrath, thanks Ward for updating this site today in my silent absense, sorry for the delay in info but I have had no phone service, but someone just gave me a laptop for a bit so I will get as much info into this post as I can. It has been an amazing day!!! Gorgeous flight to McGrath, stunning view of the Alaska Range, looking down at it, it makes you wonder how dog teams could ever get over it.... Landed in a sunny, very chilly McGrath, no wind though and did the 1 mile walk to the checkpoint. Hank's team was parked along the back of the checkpoint so he didn't see me. He was bent over looking at a dog with a vet so he didn't see me until I bumped into him, I wish I had a camera to capture the look on his face. He looked at me, looked around and said "how did you get here!!??" We had a great few hours, I spent a lot of time with the dogs playing with them, petting them and just being happy. He was in the process of dropping Saphire, Ebony & Strider. All are fine, Ebony was just not wanting to go anymore, as Ward said Saph had a sore wrist and Strider while seeming pretty happy the vets thought he had a sore stomach which is bad for a distance dog so he went home too. Hank was fine with sending them and I assured him I would go look after them until they were on their wayto Anchorage. The village people are incredible!!!! Everyone that goes by stops and talks and offers advice, wisdom & encouragement. Hank pulled out on schedule in great spirits on a lovely day. When he called the dogs off their straw they went nuts, howling, barking looking excited to go. Lily & Loretto are the only ones he is worried about now, they aren't their normal happy selves but seemed happy enough to run today. His plan right now as per a village elders suggestion is to run as long as it feels right to him and the dogs, enjoy the journey. It was great seeing him and definately put my mind at ease that he is fine! He said the high's and lows in this race are extreme and fast, one minute you are on top of the world the next the world is crashing around you. Coming into McGrath he had all 3 dogs that he dropped in and out of the sled, put 2 in than take one out and put another in that is why it took him so long....
When it was time to go he pulled the hook and went out at a good speed, doing a big drop onto the Kusko River and off he went. Several villagers were on hand taking pictures and one (Toby??) took a video of the team heading out. Once Hank left I headed to the dropped dog area. They are still looking for Justin's dog, the good news is he has been seen in the village of McGrath several times so they know he is close they just have to catch him. People are so kind here, walking to the dog lot, a snowmobiler stopped to give me a ride turned out he was Craig from Alaska Dispatch what a great guy, with some nice frostbite on his nose! Someone else offered me a ride in their truck. Got to the airport to see tons of dropped dogs about 60 in total. It was quite an eye opener and I take my hat off to everyone who volunteers for this race, the care the dogs get is incredible. I helped look after our 3 dogs and loaded them into the dog boxes, our dogs were lucky they got to ride on a large Northern Air Cargo plane right in a big dog box that would go on a truck. I have some great pictures that I will get up soon. They would have been back in Anchorage in 40 minutes for Ward to meet. A vet checks them over in the dog lot and another vet before they are released again in Anchorage. Since I'm here until tomorrow morning anyway I offered to help with the dog lot and had a blast. If Hank ever runs Iditarod again this is the way to do it volunteer out on the trail you keep busy are in the action and don't worry so much because you are busy. Jane Faulker's partner is helping with dogs too.
Well I need to turn the computer back over again so will sign off. I have many other wonderful stories to share about incredible people we met in McGrath and stories from folks here and Hank. I can't tell you all how much your support means to Hank, he can't believe there are so many people following his team especially when he is at the back of the pack. One thing I have heard more times than I can count today is the surprise on new volunteer/vet's faces coming into McGrath that there are no teams left here. As Hank was told it isn't that he is that slow, it is just that the race is fast this year and the other teams that should be with him or back further are out. Looking at stats the last 2 years there have been many teams slower than Hank at this point that still finished. Good night all and thanks again for making Hank feel so supported!!!
March 12th, 2010 - McGrath
Well for most of our fans I realize its late back home, but I finally got some information from my sister about whats going on. Hank left takotna is great spirits about 2pm our time this afternoon, the volunteers and the town's people have been extremly supportive and helpful so far in his journey. He is also a little humbled by the amount of support all of you on facebook have been sending him. He did have to drop three dogs; Ebony had just had enough no injuries just fed up with wind and deep snow that they dealt with early on, Strider was the same and Sapphire has had a wrist problem on and off all winter and it was acting up. No serious problems and by later tonight the three of them should be back with me, Max Snoppy,Blitz,and Pearl. Everybody out there have all told him the same thing " to go as long as it feels good for him and the dogs if that takes him to Nome great, if its sooner great, but to remember one thing it is about him, his dogs, and there journey together" Tanya will be back tomorrow morning with us and I'm sure will have more stories but till then its goodnight. Ward out from Alaska.
March 11th, 2010 - Call from Hank!!!
Just talked to Hank and he is fine!!! He is in McGrath and has declared his 24 hour. He brought enough supplies with him to stay there. The Alaska Range demoralized the team. Strider and Ebony especially. Strider was running in lead with Lily and Ebony was right behind. When they would go off the trail, Ebony would disappear and Hank would have to pull her out of the 4' of snow. He said she just doesn't want to do this anymore. Strider just got discouraged, the trail was drifted over and while there were markers it was blowing (40-50 mph) & snowing so hard they couldn't always see them so would end up missing a corner and than the team would wallow in the snow, between that and just running into that kind of wind, Strider is very discouraged. Hank said as well that him and Pat did most of the leading through that section which is the hardest job for a team to break trail. That is why his run times have been so slow, the team is just depressed. He is staying in McGrath to let them sleep, eat and get recharged so everyone is ready to go again. There wasn't an ounce of hesitation or question in his voice. He just said it's all part of it. He was on a sat phone so didn't talk long but said he would call again before he left tomorrow. He will likely leave Strider and Ebony in McGrath to fly back to us, but said he would make the final decision before heading out tomorrow. I have checked previous years stats based on his time into McGrath and he is still on track for running a 12/13 day race which was his goal.
March 11th, 2010 - Leaving Nikolai
Craig Medred in Nikolai said he talked to Hank this morning as he got ready to leave & Hank & the dogs were good. Said Hank is a bit worried about the new cutoff time into Unalakleet, but thinks he will be ok. Great news I was afraid he was getting down with the cold & wind.
March 11th, 2010 - Choosing where to 24
Everyone must do a 24 hour layover in the race, it can be anywhere you choose. You make sure you send lots of extra food to the checkpoints you think you might stop. The Athabascan village of Takotna is reknown for being the best place Lance calls it Heaven, great people, amazing food & hospitality. Hank is planning to stop here, however we also shipped lots of food to Nikolai as a backup.
March 10th, 2010 - Village of Nikolai
I "imagine" he will stay for a bit, head for McGrath and straight on to Takotna where he had planned to take his mandatory 24 hour stop. However we sent enough supplies to Nikolai as well should he choose to stop there. There is a phone in Nikolai that they are allowed to use so I HOPE we will hear from him!
March 10th, 2010 - Update on Pat, and Pat Update on Hank
Just got back from Anchorage, good news is Pat is out of the hospital and we talked with him quite a while. He has a cast on one arm a concussion and huge headache, but all in all is in good spirits. He helped shed some light on why Hank stayed 14 hours in Rohn.
First off when a bunch are stopped like they were the other night at mile 133 that was the actual checkpoint even though it didn't show it. The weather for the last 20 mushers through the Alaska Range was bad, heavy snow and high winds. The winds were so high on Finger Lake that Pat said the dogs didn't settle down at all and wouldn't sleep, they just kept barking/howling (Pat & Hank's teams, not sure about the others). Hank gave up and left, than when they arrived in Rainy Pass, again because the weather was bad they pushed on without much rest, so by the time Hank got into Rohn his dogs hadn't really rested since Skwentna the night before, so it makes sense that he wanted them to stay for while, and Pat said Rohn was pretty warm and sheltered so they would have got a good rest, except for the medivac planes getting him in and out!!!! Pat also commented that both his and Hank's team did a great job at breaking trail through all the snow, they marched on while some other teams were faltering trying to break trail. Pat said Hank was in good spirits anytime he saw him so that is great news.I "imagine" he will stay for a bit, head for McGrath and straight on to Takotna where he had planned to take his mandatory 24 hour stop. However we sent enough supplies to Nikolai as well should he choose to stop there. There is a phone in Nikolai that they are allowed to use so I HOPE we will hear from him!
March 10th, 2010 - Buffalo Tunnels
Seems Hank & GPS are together & he is 1/2 way thru the burn to Nicolai. Not sure why he was in Rohn 14 hours but he is still running 16 dogs so assume they are fine. We are off to Anchoraget to visit Pat & pop into the Millenium to find out more info on the team other than just a mile marker. Thanks all for the good... wishes! The burn is a hard bruising run on gear & musher & it is cold there right now about -35 C.
March 9th, 2010 - Rohn, population = 0
He is now in at rohn checkpoint, mile 165 would expect some rest than out again, the next run is a little longer around the 60 mile range.
March 9th, 2010 - Mile 133
Morning from Alaska! Yes Hank started moving again several hours ago, he is running with Karen Ramstead, with Wattie (Scotland) right behind and Newton (Jamaica) ahead. By the time I went to bed there were about 25 teams all backed up at mile 133 I imagine he will have some good stories about that section and the night 25 teams all camped together there. Quite a few teams are still there. I will rest easier once he is into Rohn.
Yes Ward & I both hope to get out on the trail but he doesn't need us this early on, I'm sure we will hear from him in McGrath or maybe Nicolai. We had to send a new ski pole to him yesterday. We mailed it to McGrath and it will be delivered today. He broke his getting to the start gate on Sunday. You just mail to the Iditarod checker in a particular town and it is delivered if essential. Post office guy said it was one of the weirdest parcels he had sent!!! So yes I would love to get out to see him on the Yukon and again the coast, both places are his biggest fears for wind, cold, overflow and isolation. Plus he will be extremely sleep deprived by than and the mind starts playing tricks. I will be in Nome for sure, although we dont have billets yet so that is a bit up in the air....
Hank was told by a veteran the other day that it would be the most amazing thing he has ever done and also his worst nightmare and probably both in the same day......All of us are staying at an apartment type hotel in Wasilla so we can do our own cooking etc. Today is snowing really hard and they say where Hank is they have had feet of new snow the last couple of days. The planes that flew yesterday only got as far as Swentna, they couldn't fly into the Alaska Range. Once he is in Rohn, we will feel more comfortable heading out to do some fun stuff with the kids.
March 9th, 2010 - On By?
He just blew through Rainy for the Dalzell Gorge & Rohn, one spot that worries me. Its a glacier covered wall that runs water all winter that just builds, teams wind their way through the steep canyon on sloping trail & cross what Pete posted below I'd have felt better if he was doing it in the day, don't think I'll b...e sleeping til he is at Rohn. Great to see Pat right behind him & Kings puppy team Decaro in front.
March 8th, 2010 - The Alaska Range
Hank is out of Finger Lake headed to Rainy Pass 18 miles & the Happy Steps. Have heard planes are grounded in Finger Lake as wind & snow creates a wall. Hank`s GPS stopped working but is going again & has jumped him up the trail. He is sticking to his plan of equal run, equal rest which I`m sure is hard with others ...leaving but he knows he needs to keep the dogs strong early on, like putting pennies in the bank!.
March 8th, 2010 - On the Move Again
Hank left Skwentna at 5:45 am after 6.5 hrs rest which was his plan. He is running more than resting at the moment but he wanted to hit the dreaded steps and gorge in daylight, also the steps become worse with each team that goes through so staying as far up as possible is a great plan. He is in 38th running right be...hind our scottish friend Wattie MacDonald. Weather up there is sunny, -10C and very little wind, I can only imagine he feels like he is in heaven........Htes you could send us.
March 8th, 2010 - Skwentna
Hank got into Skwentna at 11:05 pm, so he had an excellent run!! Knowing he is there I'm off to bed, around -13 C there but at least here the wind has really picked up, making it MUCH colder. Norma & Kirk would love any updates you could send us.
March 7th, 2010 - Headed to Nome
At 3:26 pm AST Hank and 16 of his best friends left the starting gate on his way to Nome!!! Last night we spent several hours packing Hank's sled, repacking it and repacking it yet again before getting him to bed. This morning we repacked it once again before loading it on the truck ready to go. The day today dawned absolutely perfect, about -10 C, sunny skies, no wind and the mountain ranges looming ahead.
We were to be in Willow for 11am and the race started at 2pm so we were to have lots of time. The restart is staged out of a lake and it is quite a site to see the starting line and chute go across the lake with 70 dog trucks parked on the ice leading up to the chute. We dropped the dogs and gave them a quick meal and put them back on the truck, than we had to repack the sled several more times yet again, check with several other mushers on things and pack again. Sven Holtman who was parked beside us saw Ward packing 15 packs of cigarettes and shaking his head asked why we didn't send them out in Hank's drop bags, to which Ward explained some of the complexities of shipping drop bags from Eastern Canada!!! Finally thanks to Blake Frekings handler we convinced Hank to leave the truck and go get something to eat and drink. We took time to stop and say Hi and offer best wishes to friends Zack Steer, Blake Freking, Pat Moon, Karen Ramstead, Wattie MacDonald and Newton Marshall.
In what seemed like no time at all we had 30 minutes to the start, dogs were dropped and harnessed (he decided not to bootie), sled was anchored to the truck, he got on his heavy gear, headlamp and bib, gangline laid out and the dogs were hooked up, Lily & Strider in lead. We had 8 wonderful volunteer handlers from Georgia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, California, Australia and Alaska who helped keep the team in line and happy. Dustyn & Logan helped with the more challenging dogs who listen so well to them. Than it was our time to head to the chute, Ward took the leaders and Hank & I drove the sled, even with both of us hard on the break and our 9 people holding dogs, the power was scary, we couldn't stop them until Hank grabbed the snowhook and with all his weight sunk it in the snow/ice. Lance Mackey was 3 bibs - 6 minutes behind Hank so even though he was hooking up his own team as we went by he ran over, stared Hank in the eye like only Lance can and said "Hank, see you in Nome". Lance is an incredible man, more about our meetings with him this week later, but this quick word was so thoughtful and meant alot to Hank. With a bit more drama (loose dog that almost went through the team, and a broken ski pole, which we have to replace somehow) we were being dragged under the starting gate.
2 minutes to go. Hank ran up to pet all the dogs fast, and I held the brake, and listened to the announcer introduce Hank, talk about the large Canadian entries this year, about Hank's dream to run Iditarod for so long and the start of Winterdance and our children who were all standing by the sled. Mark Nordman the race marshall leaned over and said to me, with his big smile "You aren't going to cry today are you?" (I had choked up some yesterday....) I have a feeling Mark always knows the right thing to say! With that Hank was back at the sled, and with a hug & kiss took over the sled and holding Jessica I ran up to cheer on the dogs, as I reached Lily & Strider I heard "3, 2, 1, and he's on his way to Nome!!! He high 5'd Ward & I on the way by and Jessice (our 2 year old) waved, laughed and smiled saying bye bye dada! We watched him head down the lake between the lines of people and as he climbed a hill and headed away from the commotion of the week I knew he was fine, doing what he does best, being where he loves to be.
His plan was to run to Swentna tonight about 70 miles of river running and should be in around 1 this morning. He was hoping to keep the team to 7-8 miles/per and from the Insider it looks like he is doing that well. He will shut it down and stay there for 6-7 hours (Norma he's on his way to you!!!) heading out to deal with the famous Happy River Steps in the daylight. Everyone is asking me if I'm worried about him on the steps or at the Gorge, but Hank handles a sled like it is a part of him so I know he will be fine.
I have said it again but thank you to all our virtual friends/fans, and all the amazing folks we have met this week that have become fans of Hank and the team after meeting them. It is simply blowing us away....... It means alot! We will do our best to keep you updated on his progress.
March 7th, 2010 - Thank you!!!
9 healthy pups, 2 born in the kennel, 1 in the truck on the way to the vets, 2 at the vets and 4 by c-section, well done auntie Leah and Fiona.
March 6th, 2010 - One Start Down, One To Go
Hi from Wasilla everyone, sorry we haven't been posting much the last couple of days but there just seems to be so much to do! Tomorrow night after Hank is out we will get tons of info up on the whole week with pictures too. Today however was amazing, so many people cheering and Hank did awesome! The 12 mile run was stunning with folks all along the trail handing out hot dogs, muffins, cookies, etc some even singing the Canadian National Anthem as we went by, and hollering Hank's name and wishing him and the dogs safe journeys. Kids held out hands to high 5 mushers going by and Hank got most of them!
The 12 that ran were Max, Lily, Hosta, Loretto, Blitz, Jed, Jester, Maverick, Pearl, Gem, Strider, Andy. Max finished his racing career today at the top, leading out the Iditarod team, Hank has made the hard decision to leave him behind, he has gotten grumpy over the course of the long drive and while keen to run today, his heart hasn't been in it the last few runs, plus he has stopped eating well which is not like Max. Finally Hank said his eyes just said he didn't want to do it. The other dogs that will stay with Ward, the kids & I will be Pearl, Blitz & Snoopy. Snoopy because he isn't eating well and Hank always has troubles keeping weight on him, Blitz because he too isn't eating well and Hank worries is mentally just not quite mature enough and lastly Pearl, an amazing girl but again not eating well and her gait concerns Hank.
Tonight Hank has packed most of his sled in the room and him and Ward are out feeding and dropping dogs, hopefully we can get him to have a good nights rest. Finish the last minute packing in the morning than we have to be in Willow by 11am. Will be a long wait as Hank won't start until around 3:30 pm Alaska Time. However in the mild weather they are having that is a good thing as it will be starting to cool off. Today was around freezing here with light snow that has turned heavier, even Wasilla is white now, here's hopeing the rest of the trail is too as they told us on Thursday there were 20-30 mile stretches with no snow at all.
We will show Hank this page tomorrow morning before he leaves so if anyone wants to send a message to him we'll make sure he reads/sees it. Thank you all for your kind words, wishes, posts and support it means the world to all of us! Good night, Tanya
March 5th, 2010 - Thank you!!!
Well as the day gets closer on behalf of Hank I would like to thank you all for the support and kind words. Tonight was the banquet and bib draw, they said there was close to 2000 people in attendance tonight. The news you have been waiting for is Hanks bib number for the race is #45. Good night and again thanks everybody!! Ward out from Alaska!!!
February 26th - ALASKA!!!
It took until 4am this morning (Alaska time, 8am EST) but the truck finally rolled into Sheep Mountain Lodge. They had heavy snow which slowed the drive on already slow roads. Being that late all stores were closed so first thing this morning they were headed to Palmer a little over an hour away for supplies. Palmer if you haven't been is a stunning place. When I talked to them on their way back to the lodge this afternoon Hank was driving so Ward (who has never been in Alaska before) could take pictures. Hank said Sheep Mountain Lodge is beautiful they are right up in the mountains and the cabins are really nice and comfortable. The boys got to meet Zack's sons briefly this morning and are excited to have some new friends to play with. They have all be welcomed with open arms.
They ran into an older gentleman in the grocery store in Palmer who has been a HAM radio operator for years and used to be out on the Iditarod trail helping with logistics and updates, he said word is there is a lot of overflow on the trail this year....All are in good spirits and Hank and the dogs are excited to get running again today. Even better they are getting some cell phone and high speed reception so are hopeful they can get us more updates and photos.
February 25th - Dinner Guests
Whitehorse visit is over and they are headed to Sheep Mountain Lodge, Alaska (www.sheepmountain.com), home of Iditarod top 10 finisher Zack Steer & family and current home of one of our Michigan friends & Iditarod musher Jake Berkowitz. They will stay at and train from the lodge for 4 days. No stores or restaurants within a 90 minute drive so they have to stock up on everything along the way. It is a 10-11 hour drive from Whitehorse and they jump the last time zone on this drive. Once there they will be only 2 hours from Anchorage. They will be in the mountains and Zack says have good snow conditions for running. Cell phones also work much better in Alaska than the Yukon so hopefully we will get more info & photos! The boys are hoping to see Northern Lights.
There are only 3 Siberian Teams running Iditarod this year and 2 of them are eating dinner together in Beaver Creek a little spot just before the Alaska border. Team Freking & Team Winterdance I would love to be at the table as would I'm sure Blake's wife Jen. Roads are VERY rough & it will be another late night drive, they are happy for travelling companions, they have seen another vehicle in over an hour.
February 24th, 2010
Met up with Fleming friends Casey & Christine today and they helped get a training run in. 2 teams of 10, for 10 miles and 12 miles. Christine and Dustyn rode in the sled, and Casey went ahead on his snowmobile to check out the trail. Timed this perfect as he and his machine get flown out by helicopter tomorrow to open trail for geographic exploration. What they ran on was part of the Yukon Quest trail and still had the markers up, pretty cool Hank said! After being in the truck for 4 days the dogs were nuts to run, as Hank said thank goodness Christine was on the brake and the sled was tied to the truck since the team popped both hooks during the hook-up. Not sure who was happier Hank or the dogs to be running again! Logan and Dustyn also took turns riding on Casey's snowmobile on the Takhini River and had a great time. They all are going out to dinner tonight and are trying to reach Debbie Knight to join them. They have run into Billy Snodgrass another Iditarod musher from the lower 48, but haven't seen Blake Freking yet from Minnesota but he is apparently in Whitehorse training too.
Driving back from the training run they passed a Rogers store and Ward slammed on the brakes and stomped in to talk to them about his cell phone and Rocket stick. They quickly told him they don't sell cell phones, guess that's a no brainer if they don't work up there!!!
Weather is very mild in Whitehorse and Anchorage and not much snow anywhere across Canada only a few spots with more than Haliburton!!!! They did get some great shots of the wildlife they saw yesterday and of the training run, we just have to get someone to send the photos along! They are heading out for another training run tomorrow and than may push on to Sheep Mountain Lodge in Alaska to train with Jake Berkovitz another Michigan friend. Excitement is building!!!
February 22nd, 2010
Change in plans. Hank and crew woke up to a foggy Edmonton this morning so they decided rather than run trails they didn't know in the fog they would push on to Dawson Creek today. While Hank thought the dogs were a bit bored last night this morning they were in great spirits again, probably from having their dear friend Jon working with them again!!!! They promised more pictures tonight but here is one of Logan & Dustyn.
February 21st, 2010
Well yeah it was a long day 1100kms but we did make Edmonton and meant up with Jon and Nichole. Hank is running tomorrow and than might drive a few hours tomorrow afternoon, evening, not sure yet. Dogs are doing good getting a little bored of truck I think so hopefully this run tomorrow will help out.
February 20th, 2010
Finally left Ontario and crossed into Manitoba border this afternoon, staying in Brandon Manitoba tonight and hoping to make Edmonton tomorrow which will be a long drive but suppose to be nice out, and hopefully can hook up with Jon Silcox tomorrow night.
February 19th, 2010
Still in Ontario....
Well we had a long day today, but the boys are doing great some interesting sites and alot of DS and movies thanks to Debbie for the dvd player. We are in Thunder bay and hope to be in Edmonton sometime Sunday night. Need some sleep got to drop dogs at 6a.m. Bye for now and thanks for all the support.
February 18th, 2010
A 1000 mile journey (5000 actually) begins with...
Amid hugs, laughter, tears, howls & barks Hank, 20 dogs, Ward, Logan & Dustyn headed down the driveway at 7 pm last night bound for New Liskeard, today they hope to be in Thunder Bay. The truck couldn't possibly fit another item in it! Watch for the big black Winter...dance Truck and say Hi if you see them, the dogs love visitors!
February 18th, 2010
One Last Run
Hank & 16 dogs went for one final 30 mile run on our own trails for the winter today. It was a lovely day & Hank & the dogs were in great spirits. Beautiful Maverick his new star leader lead with Sapphire, he has a lot to learn but has the desire & heart to be excellent, Sapphire will teach him she verbally scolded him... everytime he did something wrong. It's the first this year I have been out with them, they move like a symphony, and the power leaves you breathless!
February 17th, 2010
Dress Rehearsal & Almost Ready.....
Dry Run - We have never had so much gear that "must" go in the sled so just to prove it can all fit (it did), Hank loaded the sled last night in the basement. What goes? arctic sleeping bag, axe, cooker & fuel, dog bowls, booties, ski pole, first aid kit & meds (canine & human), snowshoes, extra plastic for runners, tools, extra clothing, dog coats & blankets, frozen meat & kibble, Hank's snacks, compass, head lamps & batteries, cooler to name the main things.
Seems like we will never be ready but Ward says the truck WILL be on the road by afternoon tomorrow so everyone/thing had better be ready! Fiona loves her new bed, extra gear is ready for tours, boys have homework, turbo in the truck is replaced (thanks to Curry Motors & Cleve for the extra work), and truck is 1/2 pack...ed. All that is left is one last run tomorrow before all are jumping in the truck bound for Alaska.
February 15th, 2010
Countdown to Departure! Ward, Tanya's brother who does the driving wanted to be on the road by Wednesday but it looks like Thursday. Hank is running 40 miles today and wants to do 40-50 tomorrow before loading the dogs. Fiona is also definitely pregnant so her whelping bed needs to be ready. Love this pic from awesome truck drivers Chris & Anna of our skids in Tacoma. Iditarod tells us they are in Anchorage!
February 14th, 2010
Miss Canada joined the dogsled races today and did the count down and send off for the 4 dog race. She also helped make many mushers weekend by handing out the prizes at the Banquet in Pinestone's Ballroom. She was more than happy to pose with many for pictures! She also joined us on the trail and tried her own hand at dogsledding, when her tour ended Hank was hooking up the Iditarod team and was happy to pose for a picture with Bridgit and the team. Can only be good luck having Miss Canada visit the team and wish them luck!
November 26th, 2009
Not much excitement the last 2 weeks, hunting season is over for another year so we are back running our main trails, makes for a shorter day of travelling which is nice, but more water & mud than we found on
Wolfe Island and in Bancroft at the Golten's thats for sure! Tanya tells me I say this every other fall, but I have never seen the bush wetter than it is this year, it just doesn't stop raining. The dogs
however are doing awesome, while I'm sure they are no happier with the trail conditions than I am, they are putting their heads down and plowing through it with a great work ethic that makes me proud! I still have
all 24 on the team, while some have shown a bit of weakness at times they have within a week turned around so still no obvious canditates to leave home. Today we jumped mileage again and did close to a 50 mile run
the dogs had no problems at all, and thrilling to any musher are eating like I have never seen them eat before. When that run was over they devoured their soup (water mixed with 25 lbs of beef) and than ate a full
supper 5 hours later. This has always been one of our problems is getting dogs to consitently eat, seems we have fixed that! Now if mother nature would cooperate and as we look skyward constantly bless us with some
colder weather and snow, training would jump to the next level. Have never had 800 training miles on the dogs on dryland running....
Runs have been pretty dramaless after the Island and Golten's (they are blessed on a section of their trail with an army of little dogs that come screaming down the driveway as you are going around a corner and than sit
waiting for you to come back! Jester thankfully didn't get his wish to "play".) the bush is pretty quite, today though I saw the streak of 2 small wolves take off as they saw us, not the large Timber's but more likely the
Algonquin Red or Bush Wolf as they are locally known. Danny Melville was kind enough to send us some pictures from the Jamaican party, we have posted a couple below but Jon has been busy (thanks Jon!) and put up lots of shots from the
party as well as our training runs on Wolfe Island on our facebook page, hope you enjoy! We also have a couple of videos that we are trying to get up but with no success yet.
I would like to say a huge thank you to Caroline Wilson for sponsoring Snoopy! Caroline has been a customer for quite a few years with a group of friends and has had
Snoopy out on tour, as she put it "I just love that guy"! This level of sponsorship helps cover each individual dogs cost from their new harnesses and special coats that are currently being made in Whitehorse to wear on the Iditarod trail to bright
lights they wear on their collars at night to the meat they love to eat. Every bit of sponsorship helps make this journey possible!
November 12th, 2009
Ya Mon - Mush Mon!!!!
Jamaican's sure know how to throw a great party!!! Tanya, Barb, Hawk, Murphy and I headed down to TO today to join in the festivities with Danny & Carole Melville and their teams. We showed up to a waiting CP24 camera man
anxious to film the dogs. A great time was had by all with a big turnout to see the dogs, meet Newton & Robb and also Tonya & Lance Mackey who flew in from Alaska. We have met Robb & Lance before but it was
a pleasure meeting both Tonya & Newton, really great genuine, fun folks!!! We
look forward to spending more time with them and getting to know them both better in Alaska over the next several months. Lance is certainly one of our hero's they don't come any more inspiring than him and yet he is
incredibly humble and down to earth inspite of his enormous success! Also met tons of Danny, Newton, Lance & Rob (pictured below) fans all so excited to see them in Toronto.
The documentary that was made on Newton training and running the Yukon Quest was premiered and is an excellent production, showing all sides of distance racing, emotional, physical and time commitments. We had the pleasure of meeting the director and producer as well
and they shared some of their "fun" filming tales, like sitting on top of Eagle Summit one of the coldest, harshes places on the planet for hours waiting for the teams, but by the time they arrived it was dark so the footage
only showed the blinking white lights worn by the dogs, ending up on the editing floor. The show is to air on OLN and is a must see!! Great to see some familiar Ontario faces as well,
Jim & Joe Cunningham, great friends surprised us and several other Ontario mushers were in attendance too. Hawk & Murphy definately got the most attention though!!
November 8th, 2009
Drama on Wolfe Island - Cows, Sheep, Horses Oh My!
One trip we love making every fall is back home to train on Wolfe Island, with huge winds whistling off Lake Ontario, and lots of back country roads it's a great place to train the dogs on running into headwinds
and ignoring distractions. Attesting to it's constant wind, there has been a large wind turbine project built which has brought approx. 80 huge mills to the island in the last year. The island is also still largely made up of
agricultural land so the area is rich in wildlife especially during spring and fall for masses of migrating birds. So..... wind & distractions, we got what we asked for in spades!!!! Saturday brought a nice stiff 40km wind with mild +10 conditions so we waited until late in the afternoon to set out so the temperature
would drop. My brother in law Ward took the dog truck in front of us to police the occasional oncoming traffic but more to look for any dogs that might decide to come for a "visit". The first 5 miles was pretty
uneventful except for a field of horses that got very excited and kept galloping at the fence as we passed, but as we crossed to the "head" of the Island, the distractions hit en force.
Within 10 miles we had over 40 horses, an attack sheep in someones front yard that started "stomping" towards the team like a deer. We were all thinking (hoping) it was a statute sheep until it moved it's head. We were so focused on the sheep, we didnt'
notice the tiny dog with the guarding instincts of a Sheppard that decided to run out and "attach" the team. Thankfully no harm was done due to Ward's quick actions on either side. A mile further found another dog
who wasn't quite as aggressive but also free ranging chickens. Got past the chickens with no feathers flying to see 100 m down the road a loose cow in the middle of the road. Ward charged off to heard it back to it's
family, although we think it went into neighbours field with his cattle so someone will have some sorting to do!!! Another mile and we see literally hundreds of migrating Canadian Geese take flight from a freshly combined corn
field, apparently they dont' like dog teams either! Another few miles and we have snow geese & swans flying overhead.
By this time it was dark and we finished the last couple of miles uneventfully. Needless to say when
we hooked up to do a short 10 mile run Sunday the dogs especially the younger ones heads were on the keen look out for what might be in the next field!!
The picture above Tanya took of me putting Pearl back in the truck, she is a real sweetheart that loves cuddles, in the background you can see one of the giant turbines. Below is a picture Ward
snapped of both teams running past my family's dairy farm. We have lots more great shots from that trip and they will all be posted on Winterdance's facebook page shortly.
November 4th, 2009
Its Beginning to Look a Lot Like........
Snow!!!! Mother nature has dusted us with our first "sticking" snow. About 2" and it stayed for 3-4 days to boot! Dogs are extra excited to run with the temperature nice and brisk AND snow on the ground.
The touring dogs are all training now as well and happy to be out running and exploring. Logan took this picture of one of the teams coming up
the driveway with Fraser on the last day the snow was here. While we sure love the white stuff it would be nice to have a week or 2 of nice weather yet to get all the trail work done and other projects wrapped
up, it will be here to stay soon enough!
November 2nd, 2009
It started out like any other run at the Golton's. Great trails, good day, excited dogs. But this run was to have a bit more excitement than Adam and I bargained for! Turns out that some local beavers felt
3 trees along the trail were either in their way or the perfect specimens for winter food or construction projects, so they chopped them down overnight but failed to remove them from the trail.... No worries we always
carry axes for just such an event as a downed tree so we went to chopping a path through the trees while the dogs waited somewhat patiently. It was a narrow pass so I lead the dogs and Adam jumped on to drive the 4-wheeler
with the first team through. Should have went smooth except the second team seemed to feel they were being left behind and even though they were pulling the larger machine, they lunged hard enough that they
stripped the parking gear and jumped it into neutral which was an easy pull for them. Second problem, that section of trail has a 15' drop off which the 4 wheeler proceeded to go over, with Adam and I helpless to get back
fast enough to do anything other than watch in horror. Thankfully it rolled over and got stuck in some trees several feet down so the dogs didn't get dragged over as well. Hmmmm, now what....???? That 4 wheeler has a winch but the dogs
were tied to it, so that wasn't an option and it was jammed into trees. 30 minutes later we managed to get the 4 wheeler relatively undamaged back on the trail and proceeded with the training run. All in a day of running dogs!
October 29th, 2009
Looks like we will have a little bit of a break from our long miles of wilderness trails. Our friends the Jamaican Dogsled Team have invited Tanya & I plus some dogs and gear to participate in their fund
raising event to be held in Toronto on November 12th from 7-11 pm. We know the sprint musher Damion Robb well from his coming to our race in Haliburton the last couple of years, but this will be the first
we have met Newton Marshall the distance musher who did so well in the Yukon Quest last year and will be running the Iditarod with me this year. As if that wasn't enough Danny just announced this morning that
current 3 time Iditarod champ and 4 time Yukon Quest Champ Lance Mackey and his wife Tonya will also be in attendance at the fundraiser. Tickets are selling for $65/person and proceeds support the Jamaican
Dogsled Team, tickets are limited to 250 and selling fast so if you are interested log into the Jamaican Dogsled Team site where you can purchase them online, or give us a shout for more info!
October 25th, 2009
Algonquin Park Travels
With moose season over we are back on our own trails, but I have decided to increase mileage again as the dogs are running awesome! We are jumping to 30-35 mile runs so will start heading out onto the hydro line
that runs between Haliburton and Whitney. This trail cuts straight through Algonquin Park. We jump on it from our own trails and this time of year rarely see anyone else out there. In the winter it becomes a well
travelled snowmobile trail for the RAP route. Today however we did meet some activity, turns out the Park is logging this area and we met with several pickup trucks and huge log rigs. The trail/road is in good
shape through out this corridor but it still boggles the mind to see huge transport rigs sitting more than 20 miles from any major road system.......We will be back in there this weekend again so will try and get
some pictures of the operation. Weather remains very gray, but nice temperatures, cool enough to run yet warm enough to be quite pleasant for us humans! All the dogs are running & eating very well. Granite is the only
one who is looking a little slower than the rest but will give him several weeks and see how he is doing at that point.
October 21st, 2009
I'm not sure there is anything huskies like better than a new trail! Today we packed up 4-wheelers, gear & dogs and Adam and I headed over to the Golten's in L'Amble. The drive started pretty exciting
with a large cow moose & 2 healthy looking calves on the road. Sadly I wasn't fast enough with the camera.... Zeus stayed home today with a sore foot, I think Maverick got fed up with him and put him in
his spot. He wasn't impressed about being left behind! The Golten's property backs onto the multi-use rail trail that runs right along Highway #62 so you don't have to worry too much about hunters. Of course this time
of year you always wear your florescent orange just in case....Tanya didn't come today so it was just Adam & I hooking everyone up and with their excitement with the drive and knowing that we were
running new trail, what an insane hook up it was! It was a bit of a warm day around 10C so we only ran 16 miles and took it slow.
October 15th, 2009
Feels like November!
It's been a busy week for all of us. The road trip went well even though it was a very late departure, the dogs all travelled great even the 5 young dogs that have never travelled that far
before. Everyone was happy and had great appetites the entire trip. I think they were glad to see the Wolfe Island sun as they all laid basking around the truck for a while on Saturday & Sunday
mornings, wish I had taken a picture. The Wolfe Island event went great, the dogs performed wonderfully and we had a huge crowd show up to see them. Everyone was incredibly generous in
supporting us to Iditarod and we can't thank all of you enough!!! If you didn't add your name to the sponsor sheets please email us.
We have got three uneventful 20 mile runs in this week and everyone is looking strong. It has been really cool with heavy frost every night and even during the morning runs the temperatures are hardly
getting above freezing. We have even had snow twice this week, although it hasn't stayed long. One run this week a Blue Heron took off right beside Max & Snoopy
it flew only about 3 feet above their heads, I grabbed the camera but wasn't fast enough, the image in my mind though was the amazing bird directly over their heads and the 2 of them looking up at it while
still running along. The leaves hit their peak colour this past weekend and are now falling quickly, the picture here is of the teams taking a break at East Lake beach, a stunning view! Tomorrow will be our last run at our trails for a week or so, Moose season starts so we will travel to our friends the Golten's over in L'Amble to train with them on the railtrail,
a bit further to drive, but fun to train with another team and compare notes & ideas.
Jon & Paul have been busy setting up our new facebook and youtube pages, so take a look as we will try and post more pictures and also some quick video clips on there as the season goes on.
October 9th, 2009
On The Road Again......
First big road trip (well relatively speaking) for the year. We are taking 16 of the team and the whole family to Wolfe Island for the Thanksgiving weekend. Wolfe Island is one
of the thousand Islands off the shores of Kingston. Both Tanya & I are from there and most of our family are still on the Island. We will be having a "meet & greet" fundraiser
at the Wolfe Island Community Centre Grounds from 1-3 pm on Saturday October 10th for anyone who wishes to come meet the team, learn about what we do, Iditarod and see the team hooked up for a
short demonstration run. All for a donation of any amount to help send the team to Alaska. If you are in the area we hope to see you there! Just a note that you need not bring a car on
the ferry, the Community Centre is only several blocks from the ferry dock.
October 6th, 2009
Biathlon Training Perhaps.....
Dogs are doing awesome and looking for more trail, so with a nice cool day we decided to jump mileage and did a 21 mile run. Every run now we take the two 12 dog teams
Adam takes one and I the other. Generally we are running girl team and boy team, except Strider gets to run with Lily in lead, Max & Snoopy run lead on the boy team.
After we get a few more miles/runs on them we will start shaking up positions a bit more.
The wet summer and now wet fall again have made the trails VERY soggy, indeed there are sections of trail that the lakes are spilling over their banks onto the trail (pictured here).
Other low laying areas are just brand new ponds, at times we aren't sure if we are possibly training for a biathlon...running & swimming! The good news
is that when it is still fairly warm out the water is actually a bonus for the dogs, gets them cooled off and rehydrated. Of course training them to run through water without
thinking about it is a bonus for when we hit open creeks & overflow on the Iditarod trail. At least now for us 2 legged team members we don't have to worry about getting wet
when it isn't freezing.
October 4th, 2009
Fall Iditarod Kennel Tour
We had our second Fall Kennel Tour yesterday to a sold out crowd. Tanya, Adam the kids and I had a blast. It is always a pleasure talking about what we are so passionate
about and sharing stories with folks about the dogs and also from the trail. It was great seeing some of our guests in a casual atmosphere where you aren't rushing because
of the dogs desire to get going!!!! Huge thanks to Liz for sharing her photos with us and to Barb & Gunnar for helping with the BBQ and food. We were very lucky that the rain
held off until the very end. Several folks also very kindly sponsored the team, Blitz and us say a huge thank you to his new sponsors Tony Melcoire who was the first group to take
him on a tour as a yearling last winter. They couldn't believe how much he had matured. Zita Mcwhinne also helped out by becoming a Bootie Sponsor, it takes a pile of booties to get
to Nome and every donation gets us that much closer. Thank you to everyone who came out and supported the team! We have added on more tour to accommodate folks we turned
away on this one for Saturday October 17th. If you are interested in attending please email Tanya for more info.
September 30th, 2009
Adam & I headed to the trail this morning with a nice and cool 4C on the thermometer. We took 24 dogs to run 2 teams at once and of course 2 4-wheelers.
I was expecting an insane hookup with 24 at once and some girls in season so Tanya came along for an extra set of hands. Well I wasn't wrong about the insane hookup but what I wasn't expecting
was white stuff falling from the sky..... Yup, snow, just a few flakes but wow it is early and double wow the dogs if possible were even
more excited. Adam took off first with the larger machine and the 12 girls, I went second with the lighter machine and 12 boys. Both hands on the brakes,
machine in park, Tanya also holding them back and we dragged out of the driveway after the girls. Great run, but lots of mud puddle swimming!!!! Hopefully the snow holds
off for a while yet.
September 25th, 2009
Heading North.... Only 20 Minutes
Our short training trail at the kennel has done all it can for the dogs. When you get back from a run and they dip their tongues in the water
bowls and than look back at you and start howling and barking you know it's time to go further! So this morning with a nice crisp 6 C on the thermometer
at 6:30 am Adam and I loaded up the boys and headed to our trails just north of Fort Irwin, bordering Algonquin Park. It's the first time the dogs have been
in the truck this fall and of course to our large trail system so I was extra glad Adam was around for the insane hookup. We covered a good 11.5 mile run
before we all felt like it was enough. The colors right now are stunning although I'm not sure the dogs notice! We are to have a nice cool night again tonight
so the girls will get their trip to the trail tomorrow. I received a new camera recently, nice and small, water-proof, freeze-proof, impact-proof, we should be
able to test all of their claims well! I will try and remember to take it on the next run and snap a few shots to share.
September 19th, 2009
A landmark morning every fall when you wake up and look down and the kennel roof is white with frost. It has arrived early this year, shoot even
from what friends tell us Anchorage hasn't even had frost yet! The dogs are always super excited to run when it is this cool so we got both teams
(boys and girls) out this morning before the temperature climbed. Everyone is doing really well but we are only running short distances yet so too
soon by far to make any "bets". Max joined the team again today after a week off from minor surgery last week, he was not impressed with me leaving
him behind on the last few runs!
September 1st, 2009
We always want to start running by September 1st but it always depends on the weather since we have to have temperatures at 10C of less. This year the weather
sure cooperated as it was 6C this morning at 6am. So lets run!!! We took out 2 teams a total of 12. I have started with 26 dogs in the training pool this year,
we will cut to 24 in the next few weeks and train that many through November upon which time we will cut to 20. The raceteam are all living in the main touring
kennel right now. They move back inside in April to get away from the bugs and enjoy the cooler air inside in the summer..... not that this summer ever got that
hot!!! They will back outside by mid-September though. Wishing everyone a wonderful Labour Day weekend!
July 4th, 2009
A Thousand Mile Journey Starts With The First Step..
June 27th, 2009 a day we have been dreaming of for a long time. Today it became official, we were in attendance at the annual Iditarod
volunteer picnic in Anchorage, Alaska and opening day of sign ups for Iditarod 2010. It was surreal in many ways, meeting people that we
have read about and followed for 15 years and having them treat you like an old friend. We met Dick Mackey (below), a man who helped the founder Joe Redington
start Iditarod, he was also the 1978 Champion. 2 of his sons have also won, Rick Mackey in 1982 and more recently the incredible Lance in
2007, 2008 & 2009. Lance has also captured 4 yukon quest championships to boot. Dan Seavey another name who was there for the beginnings was an
incredibly warm and welcoming guy, his son Mitch won the Iditarod in 1994. Other legends we met included Dee Dee Jonrowe, Martin Buser (right),
Lance Mackey, Cim Smyth, and Raymie Redington from the famous Redington family, that pioneered the Iditarod trails reopening.
We also were graciously welcomed by Race Director Joanne Potts, Official Photographer Jeff Schultz who's photos of Iditarod we have admired for years.
Mark Nordman the race marshal was amazing. We asked him for advice for a rookie and he quoted without hesitation his phone number, saying
"remember it and call me with any questions at all!" He also told Hank he was from Minnesota and would take -50 F on the Yukon any day to
-20 F in Minnesota, that definately put Hanks' mind at ease!!
We even met our first sponsors. A fantastic couple from Nebraska that spend several weeks in Alaska with the Redingtons every year. As we
chatted with them and told them our story Leslie pulled out his wallet and said he wanted to help support our entry. WOW, thanks
Leslie & Claudette for being our first sponsors! In summary tons of great people who made us feel right at home, and even helped
make the logistics of this incredible adventure seem a little bit less daunting.
April 28th, 2009
Well winter has been over for close to a month and we have had lots of time to reflect, analyse and plan. The decision to
run Iditarod although we have been chasing it for over 10 years is not a simple one. First obviousely is the financial
committment, we calculate that it will likely cost around $40k for us to go (travel, gear, food, entry, etc), not a small sum
of money for an experience regardless of how huge!!! Second is whether I feel I and the dogs are ready, this year, weather wise was a
brutal Iditarod and I do not want to sign up unless I'm as sure as I can be that the dogs and I will be able to finish this race baring some
very large unforseen happening. Lastly is staffing/help, is my driver (Tanys's brother) Ward ready to jump in the truck and head
to Alaska for a month (he assured me his is) and everyone still at home, will we have the returning staff to help Tanya run the
touring business and help with the 120 or so dogs left at home. So having answered all those questions I have decided
Yes this is the year. We will be filing our papers on June 27th, 2009 to run Iditarod 2010. Tanya is working on setting up
sponsorship opportunities on this site for individuals, families and also corporate partners who want to be a part of this adventure in a
special way. Hope all of you are having a great spring! The journey has begun...
March 8th, 2009
Armchair Musher - Iditarod 2009
Wishing we were there, but excited that we will be soon. We are watching Iditarod from a distance
(and a computer) keenly as ever. As we have run more distance races we have realized that the bunch of teams
that compete from the "lower 48" and Canada are pretty limited and indeed most run the same races we do, so it
makes following the race that much more fun with people you have run with this winter achieving their dream.
Who are we watching this year? Well as always we are cheering on the incredible Lance Mackey, we had the
pleasure to meet him this fall at the Ontario Symposium and his is truly an amazing guy! Other favourites from
our part of the world (in other words not Alaska) include Ed Sielstra, Jake Barkovitz, Kim Darst (who we ran the Seney 300 with last year and is a pilot from New Jersey) and Kurt Reich and Tim Hunt. Watching how these teams
do (since we have run against them so can compare our team to them) will help us determine if we are aiming for
Iditarod 2010 or 2011. To follow the Iditarod click into www.iditarod.com. The winner should finish on March 17th
approximately, can Mackey make it 3 back to back? We are hoping so!
March 4th, 2009
At last.... Iditarod Bound, WE ARE QUALIFIED!!!!!!
Hank & the team finished the CAN-AM 250 last night around 4 am. It was supposed to be an easy last 44 mile run but a blizzard blew in
and he had to break trail for 20 miles, I don't know how deep the snow was but for it to be a challenge it must have been tough slugging.
He stopped for a break at a Search & Rescue station along the way and they sent for a snowmobile to help break the last 20 + miles. The
amazing thing is he finished with all 12 dogs that he started with, a great feat for any distance race and especially for us as hydration
& eating have always been the biggest problem with the dogs, ending up with dropping some of them at every race because of it.
Ward & Jon (his handlers), were allowed into the last checkpoint yesterday to see him and Ward said he couldn't believe his eyes, even though Hank only had
4 hours sleep since Saturday am, he was in great spirits, joking with the vets & race officials. Hank told Ward & Jon he was expecting them
to find a restaurant for bacon & eggs as soon as he crossed the line, he could already taste them. That might be a challenge as Fort Kent is a
very small town and he finished in the middle of the night after the dogs missed the last turn over a high snow bank and took him on a "Victory Lap"
as he put it of town, going through several back yards and down main street before he got them back on the trail!!
The Can-Am is always a challenging race with usually really deep snow and the mountains that you climb continually, but this year with the huge
melt down the day before the race 10' deep snow wasn't the problem it was icy trails, and bare logging roads, and you didn't dare get off the
trail or you sunk into 6' of soft snow on the side. The whole family went to this race and we were allowed into
the first checkpoint Saturday night after the first 70 mile run to see Hank, he had gone through 2 sets of the plastic that goes on the bottom of
the runners already and was down to 1 set 70 miles further up the trail. The logging roads they ran part of the time in that leg (about 15 miles)
were just bare dirt. He was riding with both feet on one side of the runner so to only wear out 1 side of plastic at a time. He still had over
20 miles of bare road after that checkpoint.
I ran the 30 mile race on Saturday and that is the easier section of the trail that he would start and finsih on and it was still pretty wild, you
climb for what seems like 30 minutes and than plunge back down in about 4, than climb again, one hill while short had the sled at the bottom and my
lead dogs only 20' or so away were 10 ' in the air above me. Hank also crossed paths with a moose 2 nights ago. He said he didn't really notice it
until he was beside it only 5' away. Luckily he thinks the moose was dozing too as it didn't seem to see them until he was going past it and it jerked
towards him, he called the dogs up to run faster than when he turned around to put his headlight on it the moose was shaking it's head and turning in
their direction (moose can be very aggressive to dog teams). He felt lucky to get by it with no trouble. He was only a short ways from a checkpoint
so told race officials about it, they sent out a snowmobile and as it got to the moose another team was coming down the trail. The moose was apparently
ready for a standoff but the snowmachine was able to scare it off into the bush without further problems. I'm sure we will hear more tales once they
February 26th, 2009
The Carivan East....
Normally 3-4 people, 1 truck and 12-14 dogs head out the door on a 10-14 hour drive to a race, this trip is a
bit different!!! We have the 1 truck and 3 guys (Ward of course and Jon is going this time) but also a van with 2 ladies, 4 kids and an extra 6 dogs on the
truck. Logan & Dustyn went with me to the Can-Am last year since I just ran the 60 mile and had a great time
at the race start and finish, not to mention enjoying the indoor pool & hot tub at the hotel in Edmunston
New Brunswich where we stayed. So this year they couldn't be left behind! Tanya is going as well with
Michaela & Jessica in tow and Barb along to help with them. The extra 6 dogs are for Tanya as she has decided
to run the 30 mile race. This will be her first race and she has chosen to take Murphy, Phantom, Harley (since I
can only run 12) and Andy, Beauty & Maverick. As we are finishing loading it is pouring rain and is supposed to
rain pretty much the whole drive so we hope there will still be a trail to run when we get there!
February 15th, 2009
The Next Generation!
Logan, Dustyn & Michaela entered the Haliburton Highlands Dogsled Derby this past weekend running some of Dad's
race team. Michaela took 2nd place in the Kidd & Mutt running Harley. Dustyn took 3rd place in the Youth Race
running Max & Murphy (Murphy until this year was my other main race team leader and made a phenomenal pair, but
Murphy was getting a bit old and had some arthritis), and Logan took 4th place running Strider, Harley & Loretto.
He had chosen to run Harley, Lily & Loretto but Lily came into heat and Lily is far from a cooperative girl when
in season so Logan took Strider who didn't work very well for him. The races saw about 70 teams competing and a
beautiful weekend for all the spectators to come out and enjoy the action.
I am still hoping to get several hundred training miles on the dogs before we head to the Can-Am the first of
March butthe rain this past week has made the trails very icy & fast, not to mention snowbanks like rock. Max
had fun with me one of our last runs by realizing I was at his mercy as he would whip the sled going around
corners and send me flying. After that run I have split the team in 2 for training runs to they are more
manageable. Running girl team and boy team also makes things a bit calmer with Lily being in fine form at the
January 28th, 2009
The Beargrease has sent us back to Ontario licking our wounds, or should I say frostbite! The January Minnesota
cold was extremely unrelenting this year and while last year we went from above freezing to -20 in several hours
with a nice dose of freezing rain thrown in for good measure. This year was just plain cold & wind and
colder!! This trip was also more challenging than normal, with getting hung up at the border and having an
extra long wisit with our US custom friends, their sense of humour about shooting any dog who bit them
was not well received.... The team started out running great and our speed the first 100 miles was excellent
but then the cold started to hit all of us, the dogs not being used to that extreme stopped drinking well and
started getting dehydrated, and me well it's the coldest I have ever been. The night we called it quits was
-35 F mercury with a wind chill of -45 F, we sure weren't having fun at that point and I was worried about the
dogs so at that point we decided to head for home, only 15 hours away. A friend in Haliburton asked if I
would go back and my answer was "Hell yes" we will finsih that race!
That leaves a month until the Can-Am 250. It will be our last chance to qualify for Iditarod 2010 this year,
so I hope to get 500 more training miles on the team before than, including some overnight runs through the Park.
January 23rd, 2009
Minnesota just a short drive away!
Beargrease, just the word makes me a bit worried. That race last year was the worst of the lot. Hills as they
call them that just don't stop and cold that I have never experienced before, hopefully we can forgo the freezing
rain that made it all a skating rink this year! The race has changed a bit this year allowing a team of 14 dogs
and a new trail laid into a different village that has us descend right to Lake Superior than only to climb back up
again. However the dogs are in much better shape than last year, with a lot more miles on them and eating and
drinking better than ever before, so I am optimistic that we can finish. Ward will be driving like always and Adam
is going along on this trip as well as Jim Cunningham a good friend of ours. The Beargrease is different than
most races as even though it is a qualifier (and 400 miles) your handlers are allowed to do anything you want,
technically (and I saw one musher do this last year), you could pull into a checkpoint, head to a hotel and your
handlers could look after your team. However no musher who is even 1/2 ways serious would ever dream of doing this.
But it does allow you the comfort of knowing others can watch your team so you can sleep some and having extra hands
to help with feeding, watering, booting etc. There are 4 other purebred teams supposed to be running this race
so that will be a nice bonus to see!
January 8th, 2009
We completed the Seney 300 in far better shape than we did last year. I only dropped Aster because his back
was acting up again and while the Vet's said he was fine, he HATES riding in the sled, he is like a hudini,
so the thought of having to try and keep him quiet made the decision to leave him with Ward & Fraser an easy
one! The dogs unlike last year all ate and drank wonderfully and finished looking really good, I was very pleased
apparently our change in our nutrition is working well for them. Max and Strider with the help of Lily did most of the
leading, Lily is as strong as her dad and they don't always get along, Stider likes to run but isn't always dependable
to do what he is asked! Several of the same teams were back as last year and the hosts are like family they are so welcoming.
Ward & Fraser no surprise fit in very well and when we left I was told that even if I didn't come back next year
they had better! They were helping teams, breaking up dog fights, helping rescue broken down trailers in the middle
of the night with dropped dogs, and setting off car alarms when everyone was sleeping (that wasn't intentional they said!!)
All I heard about was Charlie's finnish "Sauna" that they had to try out at some riduculous temperature, and the case of
beer that kept showing up whenever they were seated at a campfire waiting for teams or one day as they sat in lawn chairs
in the sun with Neil Young music blaring. One musher apparently hollered "You #*$ Canadians, I hope you die!!",
Guess he was a little jealous... Not much doubt we will be heading back to the Seney again in the future.
January 3rd, 2009
Loaded and Ready to Roll....
Well it is finally time to put our fall training to the test, we are ready to head to the Seney 300 in upper
Michigan. We went to this run last year and while it is a race and qualifier for the Iditarod it is different
than all the others as there is no prize money, no towns putting it on and no spectators. It is a group of kennels
that have run the Iditarod that wanted to use their trails to have a qualifing race in the lower 48. It is staged
more like a fun training run than anything else. The hospitality is amazing and the folks great we look forward
to going back! It will take us about 10 hours to get there of straight through driving, stopping to drop the dogs
for potty breaks and water every 3-4 hours. Ward my brother in law does all the driving and loves travelling at night
so we usually pull out around 9-10 pm and will be there by the next morning. Fraser will also be going along
with us so it won't be dull!!! I will run a 12 dog team there and haven't decided yet who will be left on the
sidelines so will take all 14 dogs with me.
December 18th, 2008
Snow, Wolves, Moose & More Snow, Wolves & Moose!
No complaints about the amount of snow this year that is for sure, we currently have close to 4' on the ground
and have already shoved off the kennel roof. The trail has been a challenge getting/keeping open with all this
snow. The snowmobile can't break that much trail first hand. I was in and opened up the marshes the other day
on snowshoe and found myself chest deep in snow even with snowshoes on, as I was wallowing for lack of a better
word, I thought I heard a dog like quiet "woof", knowing there were no teams out I dismissed it until I got the
feeling something was watching me, I scanned around and on a ridge above me were 3 wolves staring down at me.
At this point I couldn't help but wonder what they were thinking, curious about what the strange human was
doing, or thinking dinner might have arrived, as I thought about the later option I realized I hadn't brought my
knife which I always carry. They got bored and disappeared before much longer.
With all the snow and than some mild weather and rain the other day, we had to stay off the trails to let them set
again, otherwise the dogs would have left large punch holes that once froze would be a hazard that they could step
in and hurt their legs. When we got back on the trail there was an animal who didn't really think about that concern
a large moose had clomped, clomped down about a mile of the back trail, leaving huge craters 2' deep whereever it
stepped, another days grooming shoving to fix, but I bet it was nice walking for him!! Another run saw 2 wolves
follow the team a ways back for about 30 minutes, curiousity satisfied they headed off on their own trail. Yet another
run the same week saw us go right past a cow and calf moose, both seemed uninterested in us and the dogs didn't
seem to keen on them either.
Friday December 12th, 2008
Gorgeous Day for a Run!
The team has just had 3 days off so came into the yard very charged up and excited to get going today.
It is sunny with cloudy periods and the temperature was a nice -12C not too cold for me and the dogs are
loving it! This is our first run since the big snow storm that hit on Tuesday and left us digging out
from close to 2' of fresh heavy snow. Fraser & Adam spent all day Wednesday just trying to clear and
open the trails with the snowmobile, dogs can only run through so much snow!!! Now that we have had
a couple of cold nights and I snowmobiled the trail again yesterday it should be nice and tight for the
Max has been having some issues lately, we are covering the same trail going over it in different
directions and different side trails several times. He is too smart a dog not to realize this and is
getting bored and hence a bit annoyed at our runs. He always, like any great leader wants to see what
is around a new corner! I have tried running Lily with him his daughter but they have disagreements,
right now Harley seems to be working best with him. Max gives him attitude but Harley just doesn't give
The dogs are all eating like wolves, they chow back anything given them, which is a wonderful
sign compared to last year when they were such picky, fussy eaters. Even Snoopy the pickiest of all is devouring
his food. Next week we are heading out on some new trails for a much longer run so will have some news
of our adventures than. We will be doing an overnight camping trip along that trail too, which I am
really looking forward too. Fraser will likely be coming with us on the snowmobile for backup just in case.
Snowhooks are holding some but still not good enough that I sink them with any real confidence. Case in point
on the run today, Strider & Lily in lead today decided they wanted a bit tighter trail to run on and headed
down a plowed driveway I sunk 3 hooks in a snowbank and quickly grabbed some beef snacks to keep them fairly
quiet until Fraser could get there to help me swing them. Strider figured out in the first few miles of the
run that hooks still weren't holding and took great delight at knowing that is he jumped over to pee on a
tree or sniff something that he could pop the hook before I get up the team to scold him.
November 8th, 2008
First Road Trip
We have been trainging for about 2 months now. Running 2 strings of 10 dogs and we are up to 20 mile runs.
With hunting season in full swing in Haliburton our training grounds are reduced greatly for a couple of weeks
so it means some roads trips to find safer trails. This week we have made the drive to L'Amble twice to Ken,
Jake & Eli Golton's kennel to train with them. Leah & Adam have come along for the runs to handle. This
weekend we headed to Wolfe Island, off the shore of Kingston to train at our parents places. Normally a very
quiet farming community with lots of side roads this year was a bit different with 50 huge windmills in the
process of being installed. We wanted the dogs to have some good hard wind runs since wind isn't something
we see much of in Haliburton, and Lake Ontario didn't disappoint. Both days we ran into good stiff winds.
The team has now been cut from 20 to 16 dogs so that everyone can train together and start working as a team.
It was a really hard decision this year, but Foxy got moved back into the main kennel along with Fiona, Steeler
and Andy. It is a nice problem to look at 20 dogs and have a hard time deciding who to leave back! Andy was cut
simply because of his age, he isn't even 2 yet, Steeler just wasn't quite fast enough, Fiona's head wasn't
always totally focused and Foxy, our vet detected a very minor heart murmur. She had X-Rays done and blood
work which showed everything to be normal, but I didn't want to be out on the trail worried about her. She
didn't seem to mind moving back in with her daughter in the main kennel, which made me feel better about my