Like our last post title.. we are still waiting for the snow!  This past fall has been a very dry one here in Interior Alaska, with some of the lowest snowfalls in history. This makes training on sled a bit difficult. However, we got about 6 inches of snow at the end of October and it gave us just enough snow on the smooth roads and trails of Eureka to go ahead and get on a sled. We used an extra length of snowmobile track (about 3 more feet) attached to our dragmat. This allowed enough friction to slow down up to a 12 dog team and be in control on the hard fast surface. There was still some gravel coming up through the snow, so it was a little rough on our runner plastic and our brake tips, but that’s why they are changeable!

A view of the thinly coated roads we were running.. traffic jam in Eureka. The only car seen in November.

We were able to get around 40+ mile runs in on these trails, but to go further we would have to start doubling back on sections of trail and since we had been on most of these sections of trail daily since September it didn’t seem fair to the dogs to keep on with that boring scene.. Once Eureka does get snow it boasts a series of amazing loops and trails to local villages with some really long runs, but all of those trails either go through low tusscocky ground or high mountain passes.. both needing more snow to travel safely.

Runner plastic lasted only a couple days before blowing out!

So the decision was made… no more waiting for now, time to find the snow! We moved all the dogs and gear back to our home in Fairbanks to base out of.. at our home base the trails are a bit rough, but we can get decent runs in from here if we need.  However there is more snow in other parts of the state. So we are traveling each week to get the dogs out on more intensive camping trips.  This past week we went down to Healy to train in the Stampede area along the north boundary of Denali National Park. This area got hit with a freak snowstorm a month ago and has at least 2 feet of nice snow. The local mushers have put in a nice network of trails that allowed us to get 40-50 mile runs in with real snow! We spent a couple days basing out of Hey Moose! Kennel of Kristin and Andy Pace and had a blast running those trails.  The area will have even more miles of trail as soon as the Teklanika River is safe to cross, so we’ll be spending some more time out there real soon at our little property beyond there on the Sushana River. The plan for this week is to try out the Denali Highway for sleds. We’ll keep you posted on how that training expedition goes.

A beautiful day on the tundra headed towards Denali!

Well race season is getting ever closer.. the first race the Top of the World 350 is coming up on December 27th.  Only 3 weeks from today.  We are super excited for this race and it’s new format. The race will go from Tok to the village of Eagle and back on the Taylor Highway which is closed to vehicle traffic in the winter. Part of this course is also used as the Yukon Quest trail and crosses American Summit, so it will be great to get the dogs out on this before Cody runs the Quest. The race is a memorial to the late Chief Isaac Juneby and features a potlatch celebration at the halfway point in Eagle.  We are running 2 teams and plan to do this race at a pace that all of our dogs can have a succesful run. It is a long race for that early in the season, so we want all the dogs to work through it at a pace that gets them used to travelling and camping.  The Copper Basin 300 is slated to happen on January 12 and Cody is signed up. Cody will use this race as a chance to push the team he plans to run in the Yukon Quest and make sure that any questionable dogs are ready for a more intense trip. Cross your fingers and hope for snow so that these races will happen!

Finally, we have to thanks all the amazing friends and supporters that have helped us this fall. Thanks to David Monson, for use of his place in Eureka.  Thanks to Lloyd Charlie of Minto, who would stop by for tea and dawg talk..he always came over with a big hunk of moose for us to enjoy. Our only neighbor in Eureka, Brent Sass, was always there when we needed something. Chris and Phoebe brought up some meat for the dogs and Chris took some amazing photos that are up on our facebook site while we were in Eureka.  Ryan Hughes helped us haul lots of yummy dog food to Eureka. Kristin and Andy Pace have helped us run and camp teams now several times both in Eureka and in Healy. They also opened their home to us to run out of while on Stampede. Tom Ruszkowski and Karsten Hueffer visited Eureka during thanksgiving and gave us a huge hand around camp and helped us run and camp teams of our dogs. There were many other stragglers that stopped in while we were in Eureka and that brightened our days.. During all this time, our Fairbanks neighbor Kristin Johnson, was taking care of things at our home base. Lisa Baraff and Natalie Monacci have been helping to watch the dogs left behind at the home base in Fairbanks, while we go out on training trips. Nita Fowler and Josh Mason have been helping us with our meat cutting for drop bags. Todd Endres of Sullivan’s Steak house, one of our new sponsors, has been a huge help and the list goes on and on!! We are happy that team squid has such great supporters. We and the dogs appreciate it more than you can imagine!

In the next few weeks things are going to get a little crazy around here. We are sill looking for help with drop bags and sewing projects and watching dogs while we are out on training trips and as usual, we are still looking for sponsors, so if you won Powerball we can help you with that!