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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Iron Dogs, Wolves, Moose & More (Updated)

It has been an eventful week to say the least. Sorry it took me so long to get back to the computer, just no energy when there was time.

The last post I told you we were going to check out the Iron Dog Snowmachine Race, well we did that. Here is a link to their web site. http://www.irondograce.org/ There is a lot of cool stuff on the web site, like GPS tracking on each team to tell you where they are. The race will be over by tonight (Saturday 2-26). 2028 miles and unbelievable weather and terrain. Myra and I were at Race Checkpoint #1 in Skwentna for a little while then we went out onto the trail to watch the racers come by, and cheer them on. It was Way Cool! (Up Date, the Iron Dog race is over. Team 10 won by 14 minutes over Todd Palins team. Palin and Quam (team mate) were in the lead by 17 minutes with less than 100 miles to go and Todd crashed and it took them a while to get his machine drivable. You can check out my Facebook wall for a picture of Todds bent machine. Team #8 is Erics' (our neighbor) son Tyson Johnson and team mate Tyler. At the third check point while Tyler was getting fuel a volunteer worker splashed fuel on the muffler when pulling the nozzle out of the gas tank, the machine caught fire. They got the fire out and thought the only thing wrong was a burnt recoil pull rope. They fixed it, took off and got 4 miles down the trail. The motor siezed up because the oil injection line had melted and they didn't see it. They had to scratch from the race becasue you are not allowed to replace or rebuild motors during the race. Too bad for them boys and our neighbor (He is a pretty big financial sponsor of the team.) This link is a video of the machine catching fire etc. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEJlmWk-U5M&feature=youtube_gdata_player
This is Todd Palin during his "Pit Stop" at Skwentna. The guy in the tan hat is our neighbor Eric, that owns Northwoods Lodge. Eric is one of the officials for the race.
An over-all look of the check point, see Myra? They finished second and still had a good lead on third place. We are still waiting on final results for all teams, some still coming in.)
Check out the video of a team going by us on the river. Crashing at these kinds of speeds has to hurt.

I gotta tell you, we laughed our butts off at one point. We were sitting right on the edge of the trail about 5 miles outside of Skwentna. We were in the middle of nowhere and not another sole was around except the racers as they passed by every few minutes. (They start about 4 minutes apart to head out the trail.) A few teams had gone passed us and we just give them a thumbs up or a fist pump as they go. This one team is coming toward us and slowing down?? I give them a big Thumbs Up! He slows more. I wave him by with a big OK sign, he is still slowing. I stand and wave him on vigorously. He stops right by my machine and says "Is Skwentna this way?". I tell him "Yea, about 5 miles up turn left at the sign for the checkpoint", He says "Great Thanks" and away they go. You have gotta understand, this is only about 70 miles from the starting point and they are not to the first checkpoint yet. They are on a 2000 mile race and this guy stopped and asked for directions. It was Hilarious. They have GPS on their machines. It might be hard to read at 100 miles an hour but still, really funny considering. In all seriousness now however; That team is still in the race. They are team #4 and they are in 9th place. 30 teams started the race and only 14 are left, so this is one heck of an accomplishment. Way to go team 4.

I seen my first Wolf yesterday. I was on the trail heading home from Shell Lake when I seen it across the river. We played Cat and Mouse for what seemed like 15 minutes while I tried to get good pictures. I could see him very well but you know how cameras' are. I seen him and stopped driving, he seen me and stopped walking. I set still and he set and watched me. He laid down, I took off my back pack to get out the camera. He Got up and started jogging. I stopped moving, he stopped moving. He sat, he laid down. I lifted the camera and turned it on, He jumped up and started jogging. I stopped moving, he stopped moving. We went on like this for a bit and now he is too far for a good picture. I got off my machine, un-hooked my freight sled, got on a drove down river parallel to him. He stopped, I stopped; we went threw the whole routine again. I finally threw my gloves, backpack and camera bag on the ground and started the machine and drove out in front of him. Driving one handed across the powder snow while trying to snap pictures, I got pictures of the sky, my feet, the woods, the snow and a couple of fuzzy wolf shots.
The wolf is the little thing just to the right of the brush.
This is the wolf running while I am riding the snowmachine one handed. (Its' the best I got!) I am pretty sure the wolf was laughing just watching me try to do this. The wolf was VERY good at the game. What a neat experience.

Not more than 3 minutes after the wolf experience I came up on a dog musher camped along side the trail. I had seen him earlier in the morning when I headed up river but he was still sleeping in his sled then. He was now breaking camp so I stopped to talk to him. His name is Ramey Smyth. He is a 10 year veteran of the Iditarod. He is a Two time winner of the Junior Iditarod and several time top ten finisher of the Big Show. He was just out on a training run with his team and camped at this spot overnight. Here is a link to the Iditarod Web site. www.iditarod.com/ If you look around this web site under 2011 iditarod and look under mushers you will find Ramey listed.(It JUST dawned on me I should have taken pictures of his camp and dogs etc,, Oops) I will see him again next Sunday, as Myra and I will be working at Checkpoint #1 for the Iditarod race. I don't know what our jobs will be until that Sunday. There is a meeting before the race to assign and instruct everyone.

I have ridin my snowmachine over 400 miles so far this week and talking about going another 50 this evening. The Jr. Iditarod race starts today and they camp overnight at Yentna Station. Dan and Jean invited us down to have dinner with everyone. It's been a hectic week and we have not decided. The Jr. Iditarod is kids under 18 running their own dog teams un assisted for 3 days and 2 nights. Each Musher is adult supervised (followed) but not allowed any physical help. If they get physical help from an adult their race is over. The kids can help each other as much as they want, including they camp and cook outside and cook the food for their dogs and everything. The youngest kids are 10 I think. The kids are not allowed inside the Roadhouse today. The dinner we are invited to is for all of the adult supervisors. We can visit the kids and dogs outside as much as we want though.

I have been to town twice this week, once for personal and once to haul freight. I am attempting to learn the business of "Hauling for Hire" so I can do it for a friend "Adam Gabryszak" (Dan and Jeans son). This could work for a big benefit in a couple of ways. I can earn a little income and "Learn more Trails". I want to learn the trails because I need to know more to be able to take out "Guided Snowmachine Tours". I have "guided" a couple of trips back down river for Craig as he takes more people up river, and have another one of those trips the day after Iditarod starts.I could possibly do a lot more of both guiding and freighting next winter if I can gain some more experience under Adams guidance. He is a young fellow but he has hauled freight all over this territory for 7 years now. He is a really impressive young man.
Adam was hauling to Shell Lake the other day (the same place I went yesterday) and a Moose was on the trail (This is happening a lot now, I followed a Moose for nearly a mile Friday morning, before I heard Adams story.) and he had to follow it until it decided to get off the trail. The Moose stepped off the trail, Adam sped up to pass it, the Moose jumped back out of the deep snow and landed on Adams freight sled (This part does not happen a lot but, it is the kind of stuff we were warned about.). It jumped so hard, attacking, that it broke a 2"x8" solid oak deck plank on the freight sled. Can you imagine if that Moose had been quicker and hit Adam or his snowmachine!! I am out of time to post pictures etc for today. I have some video and pictures etc so check back to this post. I will try to do it tomorrow morning. I obviously got back to doing pictures now!
Gotta scoot,
Thanks for being here!
OK, I am back to the blog this evening, because,,, Myra and I tried to go to Yentna Station this afternoon but it did not work out. I did a couple of chores today like clean and sanitize the water barrel, then tighten the track on the Skandic snowmachine. Then tighten the throttle grip on the little snowmachine. I then started the little machine to warm it up and I went into the shop for a second. The little machine died (it never does that) so I went back out to start it. I had a heck of a time getting it started and it would not stay running. Well, going through several steps of diagnosing I found it was not getting fuel, only by pumping the primer could I keep it running. I got it into the shop and pulled it apart and low and behold, the fuel pump went out as it was setting there warming up. Thank God it happened sitting there instead of down river somewhere.

1 comment:

  1. You two are amazing. I shudder at the thought of a moose jumping on a sled. Yikes.

    We have been cold for us. Highs in the 20's I tried to winter over Joyce;s begonias, but they gave up the ghost in the cold with no electricity to keep the heat mats going. Oh well, more for me to experiment with this next month.

    I did force tulips and they have added some nice color to the kitchen. The longer days are nice too.

    Have fun at the iditorod. Stay safe and wrm. Know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.