Angie and I have started mushing with our farm dogs. Well, not so much “mushing” as “walking behind the sled yelling at the dogs.” We bought harnesses and lines and a little kick sled. Unfortunately, our biggest dog, Krunchy, doesn’t want to pull. But Brownie does pretty well, she doesn’t mind being hooked up, she usually just walks. Biscuit pulls along with her, but at 35 pounds, he doesn’t have much strength.
Sunday morning, we headed out to mush down the road, across a waterway to the woods. A snow machine trail goes down the ravine to the bottom land along the river. I’ve already gone down the trail there once, pretty fast. They can pull me because it’s downhill.
So today, I stopped them at the top while Angie walked down to the bottom. They were fired up, they wanted to go with her. When she got down, I stepped off the brake and yelled “hup!” We took off like a rocket!
Now, this little sled has a small claw brake which when stepped on, stops the sled – in theory. But on a snow packed, icy snow machine trail, it either stops it dead or has no effect – there’s really no in-between. And I’ve only been on it going fast one other time – down the same hill – so my feet don’t automatically know where to find the brake.
As we flew down the trail, the sled would take to the air over little jumps. I was yelling “Yee Haw!” as we went. But when I stepped for the brake, the act of raising one foot would cause the sled to become unbalanced and start to turn to the other direction. And the brake would jerk the sled around violently. I had to let it off and get my feet back on the sled to regain control, but as did, we picked up speed. And each jump got bigger as we careened out of control. Nearing the bottom, I didn’t dare take my feet off the runners, and the snow hook, a big claw attached to a separate line used to anchor the sled, bounced loose. I’ve read enough about mushing to know what might happen next. As we were just about to the bottom, the hook set itself in the trail, directly under the sled. Everything – sled, ropes, dogs – came to a complete and sudden halt. Everything, that is, except for the musher.
I hit the handlebars at full speed and was launched up and over the front of the sled. I came down hard on my front, with my left arm trapped beneath my chest. Gasping for air, my first words were, “I just broke some ribs!” I got to my feet and bent over, trying to breathe. The dogs were standing there, wagging their tails. The snow hook had performed perfectly. The sled was in one piece. Angie got a good laugh. She took the dogs through the woods for a ways, and then I went down the hill one more time – to be sure I could handle it.
I think I’m fine, but I am a bit sore now, and it’s only been a few hours.
Can’t wait to see how I feel on Monday!