If you have been following our Facebook page, you probably have a pretty good feel through posts and pictures of what we have been up to. For the rest of you, here is what we have been up to over the past month at Squid Acres Kennel.

Last spring while planning the upcoming season, we decided that Cody would run a team in the Yukon Quest and Paige would go for the Iditarod. We new this was a super ambitious season for a couple of rookies so wanted to make sure we could be successful. At the same time we were making big plans, so was our good friend Brent Sass. He had just bought a new homestead in Eureka from Ed and Willow Salter and was moving out of the camp he had been using of David Monson’s. Over the past couple of years we have brought the dogs out to Brent’s camp to train and saw how amazing Eureka was for building tough experiences on dog teams.. cold and windy as heck, overflow water and ice everywhere, ample opportunities for long runs and camping.. and one for us,  major wilderness solitude, oh yeah, and there are hot springs out here…  Once Brent told us of his plans, we  jumped on Brent’s old camp… and  here we are in Eureka.

If you aren’t familiar with Eureka, Alaska, it is located near Manley Hot Springs.  It has a long history of gold mining and dog mushing.  Placer gold mining has been the main force of Eureka since the early days of the Alaska Gold Rush. One of the local miners here, told us that is great grandfather hiked down the Yukon River in the winter from Whitehorse and turned south from the native village of Rampart walking another 30 miles to stake claims in what is now called Eureka.. The mining activity has created a network of dozer trails and funky little loops, following and crossing streams. This creates an amazing area for 4 wheeler training dog teams in the fall and is much better training than our boggy trails at home.   We are able to train more dogs safely on these roads and the stream crossings have helped cool and water the dogs on these early season runs. The dogs also get a chance to pass Brent’s teams daily and are getting very used to head on passes.

Stopping in a creek for a quick drink.

We aren’t the first to realize how great of a training ground this is and neither is Brent. Many legendary mushers have spent a great deal of time in Eureka.   The late Susan Butcher (4 time Iditarod champion) and her husband David Monson (Yukon Quest Champion), have a mining claim out here and also own the place we are using. Susan and David trained out here during their winning days.  Just up the mining road, sits the mining claim of Rick Swenson and his partner Kelly. Rick is the only person to have won Iditarod 5 times.  We stopped in and had tea with them  last week. A couple more miles up the mining road lived Ed and Willow Salter. Ed was one of the best sled builders of his day and a great mid distance racer, this is the place that Brent just moved to.. Just down the trail in Manley live Joee and Pam Redington a huge name in sprint racing. Since the early days when Rick and Susan were leap frogging Iditarod championships,  many other amazing mushers have run their dogs on these trails, including Sigrid Ekran, Lance Mackey, Newton Marshall, Jessie Royer, Ramey Brooks. There even hangs an old poster of Shania Twain on our wall that Yukon Quest Champion Hugh Neff hung up while he was helping Ramey Brooks train dogs out here.

As winter approaches, Eureka offers us the chance for long and challenging runs. The run to the village of Rampart on the banks of the Yukon River, crosses a mountainous pass which is typically blowing like a sun of a gun.  Great training for high summit winds on the races. Rampart offers a village “checkpoint like” feel for the dogs as we stroll down the streets and back onto the trail. The landscape and hydrology here creates some of the gnarliest overflow ice on the trails and it beats you up.. but good for the dogs to learn in training rather than on a race.  There is one last benefit, which makes the dogs strong and us weak. We can run the dogs to a local hot springs and camp the dogs there while we soak.. the dogs get in the routine of camping on the trail and we get spoiled.. won’t see that on the Quest trail.

So yeah, we are pretty pumped about being out here. Training is going amazing. The dogs look awesome and the miles are adding up quickly. We’ll keep you posted on how things are going. Please check out our Facebook Page for more up to date posting about day to day happenings.