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Return To Henning's Mushing Extravaganza!

Posted on November 10, 2014 at 1:35 AM

Had a wonderful Halloween weekend at the home of Henning Bartel and Marguerite Warren in LaPine Oregon, as they, once again, hosted an unforgetable mushing weekend. If you follow this blog you may recall that last year Alan and I also attended the first running of this event when Henning brought out Alaskan long distance musher Brent Sass as the guest of honor. So how could Henning top that?

This year Brent returned along with Mike Ellis who we met last year at a slide show presentation organized by Henning as well, and also this year Hugh Neff joined the fun...or maybe created the fun. (See last fall's blogs on Brent and MIke.) All three have run in many mid-distance races as well as both long distance races: the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod with Hugh winning the YQ in 2012. We were in for another unforgetable weekend.

A few changes for this year was the good food provided for our meals was catered in, Henning allowed 15 teams to sign up this year opposed to the 12 allowed last year, and he also allowed 3 people instead of 2, for each team. We took advantage of this last change and asked Rachel Chester to join us. Also, we brought 17 dogs with us this year, last year we only brought 15, so the rec team was able to run meaning we brought the quad and the scooter. With more people and dogs we needed and extra vehicle, so I drove the jeep down while Alan drove the dog truck, and we set up 2 tents. Whew, what an operation!

Early Halloween morning I picked Rachel up and we all arrived at Henning's early afternoon. We had time to set up camp, greet all that were already there and then take a late afternoon run. Here are some pictures of our campsite:

I picked this site from Henning's options as it was a bit more secluded from the other groups which worked out well for the 6 girls we had in season and all the miserable boys!

Our campsite.

Since our group has grown making hook-up time crazy and time is so short, I hardly ever get pictures of the dogs on drop chains anymore. That's what makes this weekend so nice. With plenty of time the dogs finally shift into a more relaxed mode so I was able to get some pics.

Front to back: Tundra, Orbit, Cree, Apache, Kwyta, Rosie, and Joy. Faith was also on this side but is not visible in this pic.

Same side taken from the back of the truck. Here Faith can be seen lying down behind Rosie (3rd dog up).

On the other side of the truck we have: Bounder, Eagle, Lizzy, Ana, and Cheyenne. See next picture for more.

And the same side take from the back: near is Spirit, followed by Looker. Unfortunately Drew and Nezi can't be seen between Looker and Cheyenne.

Rachel got to use our mountaineering tent. It was so great having her there. An extra set of hands and eyes was so helpful.

Here is what the rest of the camping area looked like, seen from our site. In the foreground (right in front of our site) is the outgoing trail we would take on training runs, right off of Henning's property. Doesn't get much better than that!

When we weren't running dogs or attending to them at the truck, everyone would gather at Henning's shop for food or around the fire for conversation. Seeing old friends, meeting new ones, and of course hearing stories or listening to the answers of all our questions from Brent Sass, Mike Ellis, and Hugh Neff.

Group chat at the fire.

Hugh hamming it up with Alan.

Funny close-up of Brent. Directly behind him is Neal Bowlen from Utah. We met Neal at this event last year and he helped organize this years event. Neal will be trying to qualify this year, with his Pawsatch team, to do the Iditarod in 2016. Next to Neal is the guy with the vision, Henning. He built it and we all came.

Why can't I ever get a good picture of Mike?

A Memorable Moment

It happened on the first day we arrived. Most of the mushers already there went out on a late afternoon run just as we had. We made it back in before dark by design. As dusk turned to night we learned that two mushers were lost and neither of them had headlamps with them. They were Connie Starr out of Washington, who I met last year at this event, and Courtney Perrson out of British Columbia, Canada who I met this weekend. The rest of the mushers respond. Mike and I jumped on our quad and drove off of Henning's property in one direction while Betty Carlson went another. Neither of us had any luck finding them. What was lucky is that they were in phone contact with another musher in the group and they were able to send coordinates of their location back. After mapping it out, Henning had the best idea of where they were, 9 miles away! He and Alan jumped in his van and drove off to their rescue.

Crammed in the back of Henning's van is Connie, Courtney, a total of 9 dogs combined and both of their training carts. There couldn't have been 2 better people to find themselves in this situation as they both handled it so well and came back with upbeat attitudes.Their dogs were just fine and also did well with the circumstances.

Another Memorable Moment

On the third day, after performing a total of 4 runs in that time, we found this:

For the first time EVER, we wore Eagle out. We were wondering why things were so quiet and found this boy out like a light while still hooked up to the truck. Never before had we ever witnessed this so we had to get several pictures as proof.

And a moment we would like to forget also took place on the third day. After our last run of the weekend, the dogs had plenty of rest and a good meal and then Lizzy had a seizure. She has never had one before and if you are keeping track that now makes 4 dogs for us. It would be difficult to believe that these are all unrelated when they are all related to each other. She pulled out of the seizure fairly quickly and was right back to normal. Right now we will just watch her and see if this progresses or if this was a one time event.

Unfortunately I did not take near the pictures I wanted to and not one video. We lived in the moment during the weekend and did not do a great job recording it. Out on the trail I was busy watching for other teams, of which there were many (for us) and making sure we didn't get lost ourselves. On Henning's trail leading off his property he has a trail cam set up. Normally he catches pictures of deer taking advantage of his trail, but not this weekend! Here are some cool shots he got of us:

Flying past the trail cam. Rachel is on the quad with me. She came along on all the runs with the big team which was helpful while passing other teams on this narrow trail. The easiest seen dog in this picture is little Lizzy right in the middle. (Curtesy of Henning's trail cam.)

Love how Faith is just a blur in the foreground. Lizzy and Cree are well seen towards the back. (Curtesy of Henning's trail cam.)

Here's one of the team moving away from the camera. Easy to pick out big, and lightly colored, Tundra back on the right. (Curtesy of Henning's trail cam.)

Final Thoughts and Images

This is such a wonderful event! The perfect place to meet with great people, to learn from the best, to train on fabulous trails, and to share good food and conversation. It was the perfect place to be! I would like to thank Henning and Marguerite for hosting this again, Neal and Melissa Beers for helping to organize it, and to the three special guests who took time away from their own training to come to Oregon and share their friendship and wisdom with us: Brent Sass, Mike Ellis, and Hugh Neff. I am looking forward to watching your teams progress throughout the year and following along from afar on all your races and adventures.

Rachel with the guys, L-R: Brent, Mike, and Hugh.

Alan and I with Brent, Mike, and Hugh.

Group shot. (Curtesy of Pawsatch Mushing.)

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