Monday, January 24, 2011

Made It Count

Sorry, I really was going to try and post about this yesterday, but I was EXHAUSTED!!

So for as long as I can remember I have wanted to have my own Sled Dog team and be a musher. When I was a little girl I would tell people that: "I was going to grow up and race in the Iditarod." I read every Jack London book, I watched any movie I could with Alaska and or Sled Dogs in it. I just ate that stuff up. I grew older the dream never faded, the goal got more realistic, I just wanted a chance to experience it, and chance to work some dogs, and maybe someday run a team.

Well, yesterday morning I went to a client from the vet clinic's house where he raises Alaskan Huskies. We loaded up in his dog truck, complete with dog box full of whining, barking huskies, sled piled on top and took off for Ashton, Id. Once in Ashton at one of their groomed trails we unloaded 24 dogs, 3 sleds and went to work setting up.

The enthusiasm of the dogs as you unload them from their boxes, and hook them to the gang lines is unbelievable, and contagious. I was grinning so hard my mouth still hurts. I am sure I looked like a kid in a candy store for the very first time. It amazed me as they hooked up the first team. I just stood back and watched, but the dogs were WILD! Jumping around, on top of, and over each other. They could not contain themselves. I am thinking to myself how on earth are you going to ever get those guys lined out to run. Then almost as quick as I thought it, Mindy one of the Mushers steps on the runners of that sled, yells "Hike" and those dogs throw themselves forward in straight lines and where gone like a flash! Unbelievable.

Then the fun really started. We got our team of 8 dogs ready. Linda (my Musher for the day) started harnessing the dogs. They showed me how, and I helped harness them up. They had the sled anchored off to the truck and we started hooking dogs to the gang line. You unhook them from the truck and they drag you over to the gang line on the sled, hold still for you for about a half a second, in which time you are supposed to clip them up to 2 lines, and then they start bouncing like Mexican jumping beans.

We got them all hooked up and Linda yells "Get in the basket" I jump in the sled, hardly have a seat and "HIKE" whoosh we were off. You can't let them stand in the lines too long or disaster strikes.

It was beautiful, I just couldn't believe it.

Course, we went about half way through the 10 mile loop and Linda slows and stops the dogs. She offers me the runners. Of course I leap out of that basket and take my post on the break barely holding the dogs down as she gets into the basket. She settles in asks if I am ready (boy am I) and "HIKE"!

One small problem, my snow pants, which are a little too big got caught on the break and FAWUP. I am a human snow shovel plowing down the trail as I leave Linda stranded in the basket and the dogs go racing down the trail. I of course yelled, but the first time she didn't hear me, due to the large amount of snow stuffed down my throat, the second holler sent her into a panic, and she started throwing hooks out (safety brakes basically). Luckily her first hook caught and the sled came to a stand still, she got out and held the break while I ran up the trail. I thought for sure she was gonna say get back in that basket and don't move.

She was smiling as was I, and she says: "Ya wanna try that again." Of course I did. This time with no event we went off down the trail at ease. Of course she kept laughing off and on the whole trip back, saying it was a first for her. And had to tell the rest of the crew the minute we got back, but it was worth being razzed about.

All and all, it was amazing. I can't wait to go again. Despite my whoopsie I have a standing invitation to come anytime. Dave the owner of Black N Blue kennels has promised he would take me as far as I wanna go.

Iditarod? Who knows, I was taught to reach for the stars.


Stephanie said...

LOL!!! i probably would of been laughing too!!...but then again, i probably would have been swallowing snow right beside you!! That's awesome that you got the chance to do that.

Just Another Day in Paradise said...

This is absolutely amazing, even though I had heard the whole story over the phone yesterday. First I cried for joy, at your being able to experience this long term goal, then I had tears running down my cheeks from laughter at the thought of your "face plant". Keep reaching for the stars and believing they are within your reach.