Northern Blast Sled Dogs

Carol & Alan Pepsick

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February/March Update

Posted on March 25, 2014 at 9:20 PM

Ahh, finally back to the blog. First we had a technical glitch that kept me from accessing the website for a while and I planned on doing an update in February. When I finally did start this the Iditarod began and I was completely sucked into it so this has been on hold for a while. Now that the Iditarod is over and the dust is starting to settle I can get back to it.

In the month of February we had too warm of weather to train followed by an extreme downpour of rain. I am used to training in the rain, but there's a limit. During this time it snowed on Mt. Hood which is good but not enough to get the sleds out. Next came a winter storm which dumped a significant amount snow at our house for the first time this year. (Significant; meaning any amount more than a dusting.) This snow storm ruined our dirt trails and dumped feet of snow on the sled trails. With that much all at once, teams couldn't plow through it. Then an ice storm came down on top of the snow, bad enough to close my workplace. During all this (and even continuing now) we have also had extremely strong winds too many times to count knocking down large quantities of branches in our yard which the dogs have been having fun with. Keeping water buckets free of pine needles and other debris has been a constant challenge.

When the weather finally took a break and the ice and snow melted in the lower elevations, we finally were able to get a run in on dirt while waiting to hear if the sled trails were finally groomed or not. This was our only run in February and no racing for us at all this year. Then Alan finally returned to work from his surgery in December and he really felt the effects from his first full week back so we stayed off the trails so he could continue to recover. They also, once again, changed his work hours so we are getting used to a new work schedule. After several weeks of continued pain, and while we continued to stay off the trails, Alan received a cortisone injection which has helped him at work but he comes home sore after being on his feet all day, not leaving much room for anything else but rest. So at this point, it looks like our training season is done for the year.

So February became a month for all those other things that we HAD time to do. We were able to tune into the 1000 mile Yukon Quest race rooting for Mike Ellis and Brent Sass. We met these two at the seminars we attended at the beginning of the training season (see my previous blogs). Unfortunately, both were met with unexpected circumstances and each had to scratch from the race. Brent suffered a severe head injury ending the rest of his season, but sounds like he is recovering well.

We were also able to complete our taxes (usually a timing inconvenience), complete our kennel inspection for our license renewal (another timing inconvenience), and pick up a ton of dog food. Then, the whole beginning of March, we were able to tune into the 1000 mile Iditarod race, as we were rooting for several mushers. Unfortunately, Brent was unable to race. But Karen Ramstead (also see previous blog on her seminar) as well as Mike Ellis were both in it. This years trail was incredibly tough as Alaska significantly lacked snow. Large parts of this already difficult trail were down to bare ground or ice and later in the race a ground blizzard hit with high winds only adding to the difficulties out on the trail. We heard reports of numerous broken sleds and many mushers suffering serious injuries including many broken bones, which ended their races. Karen, unfortunately was among the injured with a severely sprained and swollen hand ending what is suppose to be her last run in the Iditarod. Mike, along with many other mushers, got pinned down at one of the checkpoints for many hours when the storm hit. He suffered frostbite to one of his eyes, which affected his race later but he still managed to finish the race. His descriptions, pictures and videos of the trail are unbelievable and well worth a look. If you are on Facebook, go to his Team Tsuga Siberians Face book page. The first set of pictures (there are numerous sets) begins on March 18, Willow-Nickolai, and the first video was posted on March 19, also Willow-Nickolai.

The dogs are doing well although we are still fighting a bit of the never-ending eye infection, and we are still trying to get Holly stabilized with her medications so we have had a couple of trips to the vet with her. 5 girls came into season making the boys miserable. After weeks of smearing Vicks on the boys to mask the scent of the girls, we are finally coming to the tail end of it all and gaining some peace back in the kennel. Well, that about sums it up. So many different circumstances this year that created another odd training season for us. I'm not sure where that leaves us for next season but for now, it's time for spring.

VIDEO CLIP: from our February quad run. We never did get the sled out this season.

Pictures from the yard during our little piece of winter:

Cheyenne: "I got this, even with snowcover."




Sleek Cheyenne





Group shot

Fun in the snow, sisters: Cheyenne, Ana, and Nezi

Faith having fun with the boys.

Apache with a snow nose.

Eagle talks to Cree who is trying to get in on his fun.


Tundra, he has to do at least one pose on the igloo.






The hills behind us.

After all the storms we got our last training run in. (see video above)


The ever popular picnic table, always a great place to hang out.

Top L-R: Kwyta, Joy, Nezi, and Rosie. Bench: Spirit and Lizzy. Ground: Looker.  Notice all the pine branches lying around from the numerous wind storms.

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