Northern Blast Sled Dogs

Carol & Alan Pepsick

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Gearing Up

Posted on August 4, 2013 at 10:55 AM

Yes, it's August, and we have spent the last few weeks getting ready for the running season!

So first, it may not have been necessary but I had to agree with his logic, Alan got himself his first motorcycle:

So what does this have to do with running dogs? Well, weather permitting, this is Alan's new ride to work, which will save wear and tear on the dog truck now that it is 8 years old. It will also save in gas as it only takes about $11.00 to fill the tank and he gets a ridiculous 78 miles per gallon. Oh, and did I mention he is having a ball with it? (That's just an added perk.)

I have marked all (at least most) of the potential running and race dates on my wall calendar up to the beginning of March, and have already been approved for these days off of work. Yippee! Our first running day was supposed to be today, but the temps aren't quite cool enough yet (which I half expected). Next...

It was time to order more dog food so I put in an order for a pallet. This is perfect timing going into the start of the training season with 1 ton of dog food. I also ordered a bucket of blended fat. This product is new for us to try and I have already received it. It's a blend of several fats (where dogs get most of their energy from while working) and I think the dogs are really going to love it. I can't wait to try it out on them. In its lard like form you can just feed them a spoonful, or in it's liquid form it can be poured over their food. You can also use it to bait their water (so they will drink) or create frozen fat cube snacks.

Last week we went up to our main fall training grounds and did some trail maintenance on a gorgeous day. Here's a pic of one of the trails:

There is still more to do but we have time. (photo by Alan)

I also sorted through the gear and determined what I would need to run my new team size this year and got that ordered. I will be training a 13-14 dog team. Yikes! It's not so much the extra dogs or power that concerns me, especially during the fall while using the quad; it's the added length to the gangline which is another 8 feet longer. This will make certain turns and turn-around's even harder to perform, and puts my leaders even further away from me. I wasn't looking to run this size of a team but it's good to have an extra dog or two as a back-up for a 12-dog team. I'll worry about the added power once we switch to sled. :o While on the phone placing my gear order, I also had a list of questions ready for the store owner who also hosts a race that I am interested in trying. The race has a different format than anything I have tried so far and am very excited about. I hope it works out for us to attend but we have a ways to go to get there, so more on this when we get closer.

My new gear arrived on Friday:

Basically it is all just replacement gear but I am especially excited to try out the new beefy bungee system. The one we have been using all this time was courtesy of the Bob and Lee Hills Historical Museum of Mushing Gear (ha-ha). Anyhow, this new one, positioned in the center of the picture, should give me a boost of confidence.

We also have to think about the quad. Last week Alan replaced the battery then gave the quad a good washing. Still on the TO DO list is an oil change.

This weekend I went through all our kits (bags) to see how everything is looking. First up, BOOTIES!

Sorting through all the booties, separating the gravel road training booties (tough boots) from the snow training booties, pitching the bad ones and bagging the good ones is always a chore. We're good for the start of the season but will need to order more of the tough boots sometime soon.

Next I went through the first aid kit...: well as the emergency kit:

I also had to clean out all the water bowls that stay in the truck and refilled the 7 gallon water jug. Still on the to do list is to check all the dog boxes on the truck for unwanted creatures and replace the straw as needed; a couple of dogs need the tug loops on their harnesses resized, new tuglines for the gangline need to be made (with the new coil of rope), and along the way there will still be purchases to make (I need new rain gear for example) and a few new things I am thinking of trying, but that will be for another blog.

Then on August 1st, the Native American litter turned 2 years old! Remember this picture of them at 10 weeks old?

Well, I thought it would be nice to get another group shot of them now, but it didn't prove to be nearly as easy as it was when they were little. I kept their attention through the photo shoot with a pocketful of biscuits and this was the best I could get:

Front Row-L to R: Cree, Cheyenne, and Ana. Back Row-L to R: Nezi and Apache. Happy Birthday Kids! I am really looking forward to start their training as young adults and see what they have. Stay tuned.

But first we are going to Mike Ellis's seminar in Portland next Sunday and have added this event to the site calendar. I can hardly wait. Mike is the current holder for the fastest Siberian Husky team in both the Yukon Quest and Iditarod. This past March was his first time in the Iditarod and he didn't just break the record by a few minutes or even an hour; but by an entire day, finishing in the top 30 and putting him in the money. Very impressive. I would love to know what he has figured out so I am really looking forward to meeting him.


(I'm throwing this in just for fun.) Alan went on a short cycle ride today along the Clackamas River. He stopped on the big hill and took this picture of one of the best views around. This is just minutes from our house and we see it every time we go on our training runs. The highway goes down into the valley pictured and then we turn off into the woods on the left (the Clackamas River is on the right), and switchback up the hill to one of our pull-off's. I love it here!:

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