Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sebastian Schnuelle Wins Yukon Quest

Yukon Quest Champion Sebastian Schnuelle

Photo by Michael Machulsky - newsminer.com

Sebastian Schnuelle is the 2009 Yukon Quest Champion, setting a record for the fastest time of 9 days, 23 hours and 20 minute.
Runner up Hugh Neff was second by only four minutes, after recovering from a two-hour penalty for leaving the trail and traveling on a road for five miles.
Jon Little finished third, just over an hour after Schnuelle.

Official standings are at http://www.yukonquest.com/site/race-updates/

Stories are on the Quest page at http://www.yukonquest.com/site/current-news/

And from the Fairbanks Daily Miner http://newsminer.com/news/yukon_quest2009/

Monday, February 23, 2009

Yukon Quest Shaping up for an exciting finish!

As the leaders take their final mandatory rest, it's any of the three front runner's race to win.

Follow the standings at http://www.yukonquest.com/site/race-updates/

Stories from the Quest page at http://www.yukonquest.com/site/current-news/

And from the Fiirbanks Daily Miner http://newsminer.com/news/yukon_quest2009/

Mrs. Loon's Mushing Adventure

From the "Looney Talk" blog:

Mushing in a blizzard-Iowa style
By Angie

Saturday's blizzard was my first opportunity in weeks to take advantage of a little mushing. Brownie was already outside, on the loose. I went into the barn and harnessed up Biscuit, leaving Krunchy alone in the barn, crying to come along. No way was I going to let Krunchy come along with us. He ran half a mile ahead of us and did whatever he wanted to do. It is not fun when he gets the other two all excited and not paying any attention to me. After harnessing up Biscuit I brought the pretty vivid red harness for Brownie. She sat at my feet and let me put it on her. She usually is hard to get dressed but today she wanted to go for a run. Got everyone hitched and went to get the sled that hangs in the garage. We headed east to the waterway. There was about 4 inches of snow on the ground in places, and just covering the grass in others. Temperature was 12 degrees but falling. We saw a big green Chevy truck and thought it was Dad so we ran back home. It was not him. So we attempted for the second time to head east to the waterway. When we went about 30 yards and got to the same spot we were at when we saw the other truck, there was dad. So we ran back to the house to talk with him. Then we headed west out to the cornfield.The wind from the northwest was howling and blowing hard snow pellets into our face. I walked alongside the sled and let the dogs trot ahead not having to pull any wait. It is hard walking in the earth turned field. Bumpy and the remnants of corn stalks sometimes snags the sled. Alas, we made it to the waterway that goes to the timber. This was great, smooth sailing for the most part. The dogs were happy to run along and I would push off with my left foot keeping my right foot on the sled. Then we came to the edge of the timber. I stopped to get the newly made brake out because I knew the hill down to the river bottom was steep and fast as that is the one the Loon wiped out on weeks ago. So I checked out the new brakes and decided it would be safe and worked. SO mushing the dogs down the trail, ever so slowly we walked down the trail. The snow was too deep, it got caught up on the brake so every 10 yards I would have to stop to clear it. So much for going fast. When we got to the bottom of the hill I could see the river, the Wapsipinicon or the Wapsi as everyone calls it. IT was moving fast for this time of the year. I wanted a closer looked so anchoring the dogs I walked quietly and carefully to the edge of the river. IT has a steep bank and the edge of the river is frozen unlike the other side that was moving swiftly. I laid down on my belly to watch. I had to keep the dogs a distance from me or they would have given me kisses and licks and jumps and more kisses and licks and jumps. Biscuit loves to love. Getting up carefully, we left to continue on the trail. It is a snowmobile trail but no one had been along for weeks. The dogs did pretty good until we were on ice. Now, I didn't know how deep the water was where we were on. Usually during the winter months, the river is low and the bottom timber is dried up. But we were walking on ice. The dogs decided they didn't want to pull so much, so I ended up just walking behind the sled, laying my arms across the handle bar on the sled. The ice was cracking and we were watching closely, because the last thing I wanted to do was to fall into some waterhole that had just enough water to soak me, without drowning and I would have to walk back to the house pulling the sled. As we followed the river, I noticed we were below the level of the river, not sure what it meant but beginning to feel a little edgy. Just as I thought we were close to being out I slipped and fell. Oh shit. Was the ice going to break? That was my first thought. Quickly, I jumped up before the dogs could jump all over me. I notice the creaking of the ice and needed to get off this stuff right away. Looking to the south I saw we had a bank to go up and we would be high enough the water would not get us if there were a flash flood. We weren't in any real danger, but I think about stuff happening so I will know what to do if and when it ever does happen. Living on the edge. So there I was, just steps from climbing out of the river bottom and I couldn't climb up the bank, it was ice covered. I couldn't get a grip. I was yelling at the dogs, pull me pull me get going but they wanted to love me, kiss me, jump on me, and love me, kiss me and jump onto my face. WHY? Didn't they know we could be trapped out here, never to return until the spring thaw? After finally getting Biscuit to relax was I able to crawl on my knees and fingers to the top of the bank. And running as far as we could away from there. Walking thru yet another cornfield, partial plowed with cornstalks sticking up to grab onto the sled every twenty steps, and Brownie not wanting to pull at all now, it was still a blizzard and I was sore from falling on the ice, twice. About every 10 steps there would be a different smell. Rabbit? Deer? Fox? Squirrel? Only the dogs knew for sure and they wanted to check out every smell, one at a time. By now, the blizzard was rolling strong and I was having to just walk behind the sled. They would not pull me at all, not even with me pushing with my left foot. I had a good mile plus to walk. And I forgot to go to the bathroom before I left. I just wanted to get out there and forgot to go. Now I am a mile from home, beat up from falling on the ice, twice, and I have two dogs that only want to stop every ten steps to smell what lies below the snow. Needless to say, it was a long journey for half a mile until we reached the eastern waterway. Now, we were within site of home and I fell again. Into a big hole. I didn't see it, but it was there and so was Biscuit right on top of me. Love and kisses and jumping. Double duty for Biscuit. And Brownie didn't want to pull at all. I finally stopped the sled and tried to see what was bothering her. She let me take off her harness but in the process she began overly excited and ended up putting her mouth into my nose. OUCH! It hurt and she didn't mean to bite me, but that is what happened. So now she is loose, I am sore and have a bloody nose and it is a blizzard, and I have now almost wet my pants. I didn't have a phone with me and my husband was not around. I forgot to tell him where I was going and when I would be home. As good fortune would have it, he pulled in the driveway with his big-ass truck. He noticed my nose and wondered what happened. I told him he could read all about it on our blog. The blizzard continued for several hours, and I felt fine until the next day. Sore all over. My nose is ok and Brownie and Biscuit are ready for some more mushing fun. Tune in next week to see what happens.

Friday, February 13, 2009

SP Kennel Dog Log - Best Mushing Blog

Check out the SP Kennel Dog Log, the blog of mushers Aliy Zirkle and Allen Moore. Extremely well-written and informative, it should be required reading for beginning dog mushers everywhere.
It's a behind-the-scenes look at a successful long-distance kennel, filled with great audio and video clips. They explain what it takes to prepare 2 teams for the Iditarod, the amount of training and dog care that goes into it, and the simple day-to-day operations of a professional kennel.
Aliy herself is well-spoken, generous with her knowledge, and good-humored. The video introductions of the dogs are a must-see!
Anyone interested in the mushing world would gain insight from this interesting and entertaining blog.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Mush Sunday

Today is Super Bowl Sunday, and we had a great mushing trip! While we still walked quite a bit, the dogs did great pulling us. And the new plastic runner base really made the sled glide! I made a drag brake, which allowed me to keep it under control down the hill. And the woods were pretty, it was in the low 30's, so it wasn't too cold, and the day was nice. A great trip of about 3 miles, probably nearly an hour.

Here is a look at the setup on our farm, Crooked Tree Acres, in winter.

Our house:

Our barn with the dog yard in front and the chicken run off to the east:

A look at the "team" in their run:

Here's our kick sled:

And Angie being pulled:

And Loon "mushing":