Hitch on!

We started the weekend with a bang. When I go on hitch is the one time a month that Scott and I see each other and work together, most often (there is sometimes a weekend where I’m off hitch that he and I will work together as well, but for the last two months the weather has been prohibitive in different ways on that particular weekend). So this weekend was the one time this month I really have to deal with that so-and-so. And let me tell you… Just kidding. Scott and I work really well together, and we got a lot done this weekend. On Saturday we went for a long run with two smaller teams so that Scott could show me some trails I hadn’t seen. It was a super gorgeous run. The sun went down over frosted trees and a mist that was so icy it reflected the light back like water. Scott got some amazing shots on the run. I got zero pictures, because my phone has a conniption if it comes out in the cold, and although the day had started warm, it was a lot colder on the swamps, and got cooler still as the night went on. The run more than doubled what I had been doing, so it felt a little like jumping forward in time again– a function of the two weeks on, two off. The dogs were amazing, excited and strong, even with our smaller teams.IMG_0443

The next day, Sunday, was a rest day for the dogs, and a day for us to hit a lot of other necessary household chores hard. We’d made a list the night before of things that needed to be done before Scott took off for his work hitch, and before my day of work today. The list looked somewhat daunting, but we made an early start of it. By noon we’d only crossed off two things, and I was dubious about our ability to get the whole list checked off. Although I will say that one of the things involved moving a lot of heavy building material on Scott’s property, and could easily have been broken into many other items on the list– all the more satisfying to check off! And also a little more reassuring… In any case, we had gotten two big things done, and were left with a pile of smaller things to do. Somehow, at this point, I don’t even remember what all the things were, but we started checking them off fast. The world of a musher: unload meat, chop meat, organize meat, organize lumber, organize dog gear, clean dog gear, clean dog poop, etc etc etc. Anyway, there were a couple things on the list that I could definitely take care of on my own (like removing old straw from dog houses and replacing with new straw, and “popping” the dog houses, which is to pop them out of the snow where they tend to be buried/sink throughout the winter), so we were focusing on the things that Scott needed to help with. We were just at the end of this part of the list when Scott rushed over from where he’d taken a phone call and said that Linwood, our neighbor across the road, was going out to do trail work, and Scott would go with.

Scott does a ton of trail work. Most people might not realize how much work goes into making a trail passable for a dog team. Although dogs might be able to break trail to a degree, after a certain level of snow, they can’t do too much. And they might be able to climb over and under fallen trees, but the sled won’t navigate that very well (trust me I’ve ridden that ride). Scott gives a lot of his blood sweat and tears to the trails around here.

I stayed on the homefront because it was time for me to run puppies. Although the big dogs had a day off, it was a perfect opportunity to run the little guys. We had a great run, probably the first full night run the pups have had. They were so excited to go on the trails that I was on the brake for two miles making sure their pace wasn’t too wild. (Although dogs love to go fast, it can result more easily in injury and stress.) The pups settled down into a good trot, finally, and we had a great run. It seemed really short after our longer run Saturday with the bigs! Perspective.

When I got back, unhooked the dogs, and everything from the run was tidied away, I started in on the straw and house situation. I’m not even sure how long it took, but I moved houses, cleaned out old straw, and got new straw in. I fed dogs and scooped. Scott got back near the end of all of this. He was happy to see I’d done the house things– It meant we could check almost everything off the list! Scott wrapped up the last few things, and I made a frozen stir fry. It was 12:30 in the morning… The breakfast of champions!

This is all just the background of today, which was supposed to be the point of this blog post when I started!


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Today I worked at Out of a Jam. That meant I got up at 5:45, fed dogs at 6:30, drove into Palmer to drop Oz (Scott’s golden) off to “babysit” Orion (our Texas Heeler puppy), then headed to work. At 11:30 I took lunch and… Had the most glorious lunchtime of all! I sped home, picked up Oz, Orion, and Roman, and we drove… To an undisclosed location… and
chopped down a Christmas tree!!!

When I was a little kid, going to get a Christmas tree with my dad was one of the best things of the year. It was our special thing. He and I would take the dogs and hike deep into the woods (it probably wasn’t that far but I was a kid, what did I know?). My dad once made a seat for me out of a stump, and then he chopped branches from nearby trees and made a fire. He’d brought his camping kettle, which he filled with snow and set in the fire to cook. I watched as he chopped down a fine Christmas tree. I think I was very young. Then he made us hot chocolate. I think this memory alone is hugely responsible for my love of mushing and winter and the north. It was such a magical experience.

IMG_3621Our tree excursion today was not quite so romanticized. For one thing we were in a hurry due to our… Undisclosed location. We then tied the tree on with lamentably poor quality control, and halfway home it started sliding off the car. No matter… I just drove really carefully. We made it! We then spent a long portion of time (and inordinatly long portion) screwing the stupid tree stand screws in far enough to hold the tree.

I had to go back to work after this, but Roman worked hard to decorate the tree… And now we have in our living room a perfect, amazing Christmas tree! It is gorgeous. I won’t be able to see it in person (or at least spend any time with it) for a couple of weeks… I’m really glad I got to help with the acquisition.

Perhaps a rambling, disconcerted account, but– and accurate reflection of life these days! It’s great. Tomorrow I start in on my two weeks of big runs. This is the real quality time with these dogs. It’s only a month till the Copper Basin… Here we go!