Training Starts Now

Much like every other day, training starts today.

Last week, I realized we have 9 weeks to go til the Copper Basin. That’s not much time at all!

With the lack of snow and hard trails, I had held back on my miles a bit. The frozen gravel was hard on the dogs’ feet, and our trail availability was getting pretty narrow. We had some misadventures trying to go through a big mud puddle called Sonny’s Hole… If you haven’t read about it, here’s a few pieces of the story:

If you want to read the full story (including how we got out of there!), check it out on our twitter feed!

Having snow has made a huge difference in many ways. No more getting stuck in horrible mud holes! Way better for doggo feet! Lots of snow to eat on the trail! Frozen poop- easier to scoop! And of course… Freezing fingers and toes! Well, that’s the price for the good season. It also makes a huge difference mentally. Without snow, the darkness is *dark.* Snow on the ground and the trees increases the light so much. As it gets darker and darker, that’s appreciated.

We went from this:

To this:

You can feel the magic, right?

Now is when the season gets truly full-swing. We’ll be increasing miles. I’ll be sleeping a lot less! And the cold will intensify, as will the dark.

We are really lucky to be pretty well prepared for the year. With a lot of support from followers, friends, and family, we were able to stock up the freezers and food shed, get straw (the dogs’ bedding for the winter), and get some important pieces of equipment for the dogs. I had to get some new harnesses because my little friends are becoming bigger friends every day!

The team is becoming really strong. Our fall and early winter season training by four wheeler is like serious weight training for the crew, and their little frames show it. They could all beat me arm wrestling in a moment. The crew is ripped! When we transition to sleds, the dogs will become more wirey, like marathon runners.

Not only is the dog team getting stronger and better… But we have some really exciting announcements about the HUMAN team! First of all, Sarah Harmon has been helping us out around the kennel. She moved up to Alaska with the intent to mush. She met Shawn by co starring in Rocky Horror this fall– and then I happened to hear she was interested in learning more about mushing. It’s worked out great. She’s helped us around the kennel, and is getting some hands on experience. Sarah worked for two other kennels before ours, so she has experience. She’s currently studying at UAF and working, so she comes out to help ATAO on her days off. That’s a huge gift to us and the dogs! She loves the ATAO team and is a great dog person. She, along with Shawn and my very good friend Arthur, will be handling for ATAO at the Copper Basin! This is a really big deal. It means I know I’ll have really awesome handlers who will support the team (and the sleepy human) at each checkpoint. I’m so excited for the ATAO crew to take on the CB300!

Sarah loves the dogs!

I’ll be doing another post about Arthur and Sarah to highlight their respective awesomenesses! So look for that coming up.

Finally, I have to give a GIGANTIC thank you to everyone who donated towards our race. We were able to meet our $ goal– I never thought we would in a million years!!! Thank you for all of your support, big and small.

I want to give a really special thank you to Laurel. Laurel has been behind the kennel from day one. She’s a founder, a top Patreon supporter, and majorly chipped in towards the CB300 effort. She is always there with a positive comment or curious question. She is truly a huge part of our kennel. THANK YOU so much Laurel for believing in ATAO.

Okay! Like Mr. Frost says…

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.



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