Northern Blast Sled Dogs

Carol & Alan Pepsick

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WEATHER: Like It Or Not

Posted on December 21, 2013 at 10:20 AM

It has been all about the weather the last couple of weeks. As I mentioned in my last blog, first the snow arrived!

This is how the conditions looked at the lower elevations, and gradually the snow thickened kicking us off the trail 3.5 miles up.

This is what the snow looked like from the house. Looks great but not enough to cover the upper trails to pull out the sleds. We hit that awful transition period.

Another pic from the house.

Then the super cold temperatures hit. Dropping down into the teens felt great to the dog's but unfortunately all the trails were ruined for training which would be frozen snow cover. We were grounded. So what is it like maintaining the kennel at these temps? It's all about the water. Outer faucets are useless and all the dog's buckets freeze up so they have no access to water. This meant hydrating them 3 times a day with either a warm meaty broth, or poring water over their kibble. We also fed them more meat during the cold snap since they would be burning extra calories to keep warm. After about 12 days with temperatures gradually climbing back up, we were back into the low 40's - it didn't need to warm up that much! We were able to remove the ice from their water buckets and replace them with water.

Bucket ice graveyard.

And we hit the trails again in what felt like too warm of temps. If only we could have had those cold temps with good trails we would have had some great training runs.

Also, because of the long delay, I had to back their mileage down a bit for training last weekend. Seems our training this year has been a constant 1 step forward, 2 steps back. Making gains and maintaining the dog's condition has been difficult.

While out training last weekend, we came across this cool looking partially frozen puddle.

I'm throwing this in for fun. On my last blog, I talked about how crazy it is to get 14 dogs hooked up to the gangline. Well, there's Nothing To See Here, as my video title indicates, but click on it and here the sound of chaos as we ready the team for a run. (Video by Alan.)

So after 2 days of training in the low 40's last weekend, the dogs had Monday off to recuperate. I knew the temps were supposed to drop into the low to mid 30's for Tuesday which would be perfect for a training run. Unfortunately, a thick fog rolled in Monday night. It was like driving through milk much of my way home from work. I remember as a kid growing up in Michigan, fog was a cool and unique event. I can remember walking to school in the fog only a couple of times. Around here, it is normal and often a daily occurrence. It's real fun driving on the two lane highways up and down hills on tightly winding roads in a dense fog. I don't even think of it as fog but as low-lying clouds, due to the mountains. Sometimes at our house we are above the clouds and I can see the cloud cover that I will descend into as I get closer to the valley. It's quite a site, beautiful looking until you hit the fog. Monday night's fog left everything soaking wet, like living in a cloud for a day. Then the temps dropped below freezing which brings in another phenomenon - frozen fog! That's what we woke up to Tuesday morning. Everything was frozen in a sheet of ice like we were hit by an ice storm. I am glad I didn't have to go to work as all vehicles were coated in a glaze of ice. Unfortunately, negotiating the single-wide winding road up the side hill hauling a trailer did not sound very safe, so once again we were grounded, with ideal temperatures.

Tuesday morning's fog.

Frozen grass.

Sunlight through the tree reflects off the fog.

That was our last chance to train for a while since Alan went in for surgery on Thursday. Now we are on a training break for at least a week while he recovers. It would be wonderful if Mother Nature would use this time to complete the transition to winter. A large dumping of snow on the upper trails would work out great, then we could switch to sled training when we get back on the trails. Here's hoping.

Here are some individual gangline pics from the weekend:

Leaders, cousins Drew (L) and Kwyta.

In swing, Looker (L) and her niece Ana.

Sisters Nezi (L) and Cheyenne.

Sisters Lizzy (L) and Faith.

Cree (L) and his uncle, Eagle.

Apache (L) and his father Orbit.

In wheel, Tundra (L) and his nephew Bounder.


Me and Cree during the cold snap on a chilly 13 degree day.

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