Northern Blast Sled Dogs

Carol & Alan Pepsick

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Blog Time Again, Part 2

Posted on November 25, 2013 at 4:10 AM


We started off September with a little bit of excitement when this arrived:

A Jeep Compass! This was Alan's parent's vehicle. With 4WD and the amount of room that it provides Alan thought we might be able to make good use of it and his sister and brother were not interested in it. Actually, neither of us had ever heard of one before but we really like it. Considered a compact SUV I don't feel like I am driving a bus, but it is quite roomy with lots of storage and it's the only thing we now own that can seat more than 2 people. Now we have two 4WD vehicles to use when winter drops in.

I had 12 training days marked down for September, but we were only able to take advantage of 2 of them as the temps continued to be too warm. I started off fall training where we left off the season before: 17 dogs split into 2 groups. During these early shorter runs, there was plenty of time to run 2 groups which allowed Joy, Rosie, and Spirit to train with the rest of the dogs. I could tell however that Rosie was working hard to keep up and that I would definitely have to drop her down to the rec team soon. This is an interesting and somewhat sad process. I have eliminated dogs before as I see them get outrun by the new and improved dogs, but in the past they were not dogs specifically bred to run. It was a little different with Rosie as she was bred to run and has done so for 8 years with me and at one time she was one of the new and improved dogs. The other two dogs to be placed on the rec team, due to their seizure disorders, is Spirit and Joy also bred to run and have been on my team their whole lives. It is unfortunate that I cannot utilize their talent. Northern Blast, once again, took a step into new territory.

September was also rabies renewal for those that needed it. One of the dogs on the list was Comet. Comet is one of our original rescue dogs who came to us at an unknown age, although we are now thinking that he was older than what the rescue felt he "probably" was as he is showing the signs of a much older dog. His face looks old and his movements have become stiff, making him a bit touchy and grumpy. This makes him difficult to work with and I did not feel we would be able to get him to the vet. So for the first time, our vet made a housecall and injected all the dogs in need of rabies, right here. She agreed that he appeared to be a much older dog.

Comet in his younger days.

October started off much better for us. We got one more training run in before hitting our big, and anxiously anticipated, event. Brent Sass of Wild And Free Mushing, out of Eureka, AK, was coming to Oregon! Brent runs a long distance team and has come on strong the last few years. Brent is known for his camaraderie on the trail, dedication to his dogs, and of course his ways in the wild. What an honor that he would take the time from his training season to come all the way down here and give our group 3 days of himself. And, once again, we have Henning Bartel to thank for this. Henning organized the Karen Ramstead and Mike Ellis seminars that we attended in Portland this summer, but this was a whole different ball game.

Henning has 10 beautiful acres surround by national forest in LaPine, OR. He only allowed 12 mushers and as many dogs as they wanted to bring, to sign up for the weekend where we all camped right on his property. He has trails leading off his property and right into the national forest. The cooler parts of the day saw teams, one after another, taking off for a run right from their camping spots. During the warmer parts of the day we gathered together and talked dogs, visited each other's sites, shared meals with food cooked by a genuine chef, and of course talked with Brent. He answered endless questions, and helped us with anything that we asked. He also provided an awesome slide show presentation one chilly night. We arrived on Friday with 15 dogs (I left Rosie and Spirit behind, but brought Joy) and stayed until Monday. The trails were awesome and I got in several runs with my dogs still running them in 2 teams. After a wonderful run we would come back to our campsite and eat and then join in on good conversation with a circle of mushers relaxing together around a campfire. How ideal, what great fun. This was just a wonderful experience! Here are the pics:


Mushers chat circle with Brent on the left.

Brent came by our truck and Ana was so excited to meet him.

Mushers doing their thing. On the right is Henning Bartel who makes and sells carts so he is down to business (  (; and on the left on the ground Karen Yeargain is examining an injury on one of Kim Bertrand's dogs. Beyond is another mushing circle and Alan seems to be in the middle of it all.

Chat circle. Brent in orange. Henning's beautiful house behind them.

Ahh, Henning's shop, supplied many things for all of us: shelter, bathroom, shower, kitchenette, small sleeping room if needed, and food served. Of course its normal function is the place where Henning builds his carts.

Here is what the camping scene was like:

This is our site. It has been a while since we pulled out the old mountaineering tent.

Our site from a different view. The red truck in the background belongs to Connie Starr. To the left is Kim Bertrand's set up. It had been a couple of years since our path crossed with Kim's, so it was nice camping right next to her. The building behind her is the back of Henning's shop.

Trucks, trailers, ATV's, dog crates...oh what fun!

This is Neal Bowlen's amazing rig. He brought 32 running dogs with him from Utah.

This young mushing couple from California camped across from us. They have 8 siberians in that vehicle with them.

Group shot.

Training pic. We referred to this as the red road. All the smaller training roads were off of this one.

With the amount of intersecting roads to train on it was easy to get turned around as many of us did including me on our last day. So when I got home I drew up this map which is stored on my phone. I didn't want to forget what we figured out on this trip should we ever return which I would really like to do.

Our very gracious hosts Henning and Marguerite pictured here with Brent. I cannot say thankyou enough to these three. So once again, thankyou Henning and Marguerite for putting this wonderful event on and sharing your home with us; and thankyou Brent for agreeing to come down and for sharing all your amazing stories and mushing knowledge with us. One of the best events ever!

Oh, and we have some videos to share! (Remeber, for those that have the Youtube icon, you can click on that for a better view. And, these videos are also located on the video page.)

VIDEO 1: Alan captured this video of our campsite and all the sites around us.

VIDEO 2 PART A: The last day of the weekend, this is a training run with the first group out.

VIDEO 3 PART B: The last day of the weekend, this is a 2nd video on the first group out.

VIDEO 4: The last day of the weekend, this is a training run with the second group.

I had 15 training days marked on our calendar for October, we were able to train 10 of those, still battling warm temperatures. Up next will be part 3 which will include training the race team and some new idea's we are trying out this year. That should catch us up to the present. Stay tuned!

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