I've been doing a fair number of 'mini' camping
trips this fall - basically they were glorified coffee outings
to my friend Lisa's place - but the dogs don't know that! J
Works out great, as the dogs were getting good runs and
experience resting in harness, but it was time to really stretch
them out on a real camping trip.
The original plan was to go camping last Friday, but plans got
stalled Thursday when Mark walked out of the bush without his
ATV and asked if I'd mind driving him to the hospital. When I
asked what the problem was he held up his left hand to show 4
fingers pointing in one direction and his ring finger pointing
an entirely different way.
I should have taken a picture, but honestly, I was too busy
trying to keep my lunch down.
Mark was greeted warmly by the ER staff at the Athabasca
Hospital - he tried to tell me that the nurse worked at Alpac in
addition to putting shifts in a the hospital, but I'm thinking
he is just becoming a 'regular' in the ER.
After the receptionist, nurse and just about everyone else gave
'oh gross' exclamations at Mark's hand they froze the finger and
yanked it back into place. A few days with a splint and his hand
is mostly back to normal.
We dragged his ATV up the hill it was stuck on with my ATV the
next day. Thankfully it did not require an ER visit.
So, Mark back to full strength we decided to try again
yesterday. As he was just coming off a stretch of night shifts,
he slept through the day, we fed the yard at 4 pm, fed
ourselves, packed up and hit the trail around 7pm.
The run to the campground was a solid one. The dogs hadn't been
on a night run in while and were having a blast. We bounced off
tussocks in the muskeg reminiscent of the trail from Ophir to
Iditarod on last year's race.
Three big animals bounced across the road right in front of my
team. At first I thought they were deer, but their size and the
way they jumped the fence in the far ditch really let me to
think they were actually elk (aka Wapiti) - Mark agreed. Not
unheard of in the area, but the first time we have run into them
out here with teams.
Miles later we wheeled into the campground. It was a nice treat
that our handler Kathryn had decided to drive out and meet us.
We got dogs fed and settled down before Mark (aided by a lot of
flammable liquids) got a fire roaring for us to cook up some hot
by Penny Blankenship
Despite having all my rookies in the campground with us, we
passed a relatively quiet 3 hours before packing up, waving
goodbye to Kathryn (as she scurried back to the cabin to get to
bed - we had kept her up till WELL past her bedtime!) and
hitting the trail for home.
The dogs took a mile or so to find their 'groove' and then
settled easily into ground covering travel.
With traffic virtually non existent (it was 2am), I pulled out
my iPod to help me stay away. No luck, it was totally dead.
Seems I put it on the charger yesterday, but forgot to plug the
darn thing in.
I resorted to munching on some trail mix and reciting 'The
Cremation of Sam Magee' to the dogs to stay awake.
"There are strange things done 'neath the midnight sun by the
man who moil for gold..."
We took a couple good long water and rest breaks for the
critters, finally we hit the muskeg that means we are about 7
miles from the kennel. As I was bouncing along (no problem
staying awake now) it occurred to me that I should have seen
Mark's headlamp round the last corner in my rear view mirror by
now. I called the dogs to a stop and turned around to look -
still no Mark. I powered down my ATV accessories (my handwarmers,
GPS and spotlight) and shut off my machine to see if I could
hear Mark's making it's way down the trail. Nothing. Hmmm, then
a weak light accompanied by no sound popped into view. I hit the
start button on my ATV and absolutely nothing happened. What the
heck?? I tried one more time before deciding to just wait for
Mark - I didn't want to kill the battery. When Mark pulled up, I
mentioned that I had ATV trouble. "Me too", was his reply.
Seriously, neither machine would start, that was why there was
no noise when he came into view around the corner. Rather
unbelievable when you consider that in all the years and all the
miles we have put in with ATVs, we have never had one break down
on a training run - forget 2 within 5 minutes of each other (Katerina
- are you jinxing our machines??).
Battery power held up enough that we were both able to run our
spotlights for most of the way home. We each also put on a
headlamp for added security. Luckily, pulling a 500 + lb ATV
with a person on board is not a big challenge for the team, so
we made it home only a bit later then expected.
Everyone ate well and was tucked back onto their chains. It was
6:15am when Mark and I dropped into bed. Mark lucked out with a
full 10 hours sleep, but I had to be up at 9:30 to be ready to
meet Dr. Veronica Devall for kennel shots, a few adjustments on
dogs and a MUSH with PRIDE kennel inspection!
Despite my lack of sleep, I had a lovely visit with Veronica and
we got all our projects accomplished - including our kennel
inspection, which we passed with flying colors. J
(For more information on MUSH with PRIDE kennel inspection
program, check out
Well, I'm off to make dinner and then pushing everyone out the
door to feed early so I can get some sleep!!!