Springtime Magic Running Dogs

Ever feel that weird sense of anti-climax where you missed some kind of big event but it’s actually kind of better anyway? Okay maybe I make no sense. It’s really strange to have a mushing year where I’m not pushing for a big end-season race. And now the mushing season is more or less over and I’m like… Wait what? Where was all the exhaustion, the struggle? Where was the hard but rewarding adventure?

Don’t get me wrong! There was adventure, and some difficulty. But not the same way there is training for and accomplishing a race. BUT! Long game! And keeping all that “fun” stuff in mind. So now, it’s spring, the season is over, we’re in the denouement, and… It’s gorgeous! If the sun isn’t out, it’s snowing. We have great trails still. The weather is warm (kind of too warm for the dogs’ liking, but pretty nice for humans). My team looks like a bunch of rockstars. And so– We go out and have some fun mushing!

Yesterday, we went on a lunchtime mush. We haven’t started the “Baby” puppies running in harness yet (I need a better group name for them, calling them the Fury Road + Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid group is waaaaaaay too cumbersome), but maybe this weekend. For now, it’s still the Core Four + the Star Wars pups. They are kicking butt. They look fabulous and are having a great time. Yesterday, Annie and Ophelia were up front. Ophelia is really getting the hang of running in lead: I think she’s gonna be a natural like her mom and dad. She is so smart it’s ridiculous. Then again, I may be biased about her.

We did the 5 mile loop we’ve been doing– the max I’ll travel with my Star Wars crew, because they are very young– which is one of my favorite little mushing trails anyway. I threw in a couple surprise turns, which Annie and Ophelia took on a dime, including one that required going across empty snow to a different trail. That can be more difficult for them to do, since they like having a trail to directly follow. I can’t wait to unlock their potential… One day we’ll be writing ATAO’s name in the snow with our leader skills! That’s my dream anyway. Ha!

The run was cloudy but the trees looked beautiful after a slight dusting of snow. The dogs were fired up and pulled the hook on me a few times. About halfway through our run, we noticed we had some company. A friendly co-traveler was hopping from tree to tree, or swooping down in front of the leaders to tease them. Ravens love to travel with dog teams. They are pretty smart, and know a traveling team sometimes gets snacks. This raven-friend clicked and cawed at us for almost the whole trip through the slough trail. He even stopped and waited with us while we took breaks. I tried to get a picture of him but he was a bit too wiley for us. I was happy to share our run, though. Ravens can be a big pest– there’s a reason Raven is often the trickster god of various mythologies– but they are also special creatures, and I always value their company on the trail. In one of my Jr. Iditarods, long ago, a raven stayed with my team for miles and miles– flying up ahead and landing on the snow, and then taking off again when the dogs got close. That trailside companion got my team revved up every time they thought they might get close enough to catch him! But of course they never did.

I feel so lucky to be living this life I’ve dreamed of for so long. I feel surrounded by good friends, the ones in the woods and the yard, and the ones who helped me get here. I’m looking out the window of my cabin at snow and trees and peace. ATAO is where it’s meant to be. And, we’re making our plans and dreams for next year.


7 Responses

  1. Lisa
    | Reply

    Last Stand Pups or Outlaw Pups? 🙂

    • Lisa
      | Reply

      Oooh, or Mad Max Series + Wild Bunch (Cassidy’s Gang)= Mad Bunch?

    • Will Troshynski
      | Reply

      Oh I like Outlaws! Although Mad Bunch is poetic… But I don’t want Mr. Max to get his name in the headlines! He’s only a *token* male after all!

  2. John Breiby
    | Reply

    (I tried this a minute ago, hit something and it went “Poof.” But then you’re too well aware of my computer skills!).
    Try again: The fun part sounds like the best, what you’re doing right now; the racing part like a lot of work, but I’m not very competitive, and getting old and lazy. You could just train the heck out of them, take fun runs and go on camping trips with your pups and skip the angst and stress of a long race and no one would fault you.

    You’re perhaps aware that wolves and Ravens evolved together and developed a team hunting strategy. The ravens would find either dead prey, which they couldn’t open, since they are small and don’t have teeth, so they needed the wolves for that, or they would find live prey and they needed the wolves to catch it so they could get the scraps. The wolves liked it that the Ravens would show them where the prey was. From on high they could see a lot farther than the wolves, so when they spotted an animal, they would fly over the wolves, call them and fly back to the prey, back and forth until they saw the wolves were following. Doubtless Ravens still think of dog teams as wolves, of a sort. Maybe your Raven was trying to show you a moose or something. Did you give him some kibbles for his efforts? 😉

    You write nice stories, Will!

    • Will Troshynski
      | Reply

      I actually didn’t know that about ravens and wolves, but it makes total sense! That is awesome. No kibbles this time (we were traveling light and didn’t have any food with us), but when we’re doing longer training runs we’ll definitely leave some snacks behind (intentionally or not).

      It’s funny, I know the fun part is supposed to be the most fun, but I really love the training for a race– Having a goal is a great motivator! But, I’m also learning about this whole “fun” theory too!

      Thanks for taking the time to re-write your “poofed” reply! We’ve all been there, no matter the level of our computer skills…!

  3. Chris
    | Reply

    Love your witing Will, Time for Spring camping. I always loved that last month of winter with the dogs. Pressure is off, everyone, including me, in good shape, temps warm…. some of the best days!

    • Will Troshynski
      | Reply

      They really are the glory days! Thanks for following along, Chris!! I hope things are going well gearing up for tour season… Maybe we’ll be down to visit sometime this summer!

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