Two Week Training trip to Alpine Lodge on the Denali Highway
First time in 25 years! Janine goes mushing
Mitch, Janine and Grayson left our snow-free kennel in Sterling with our Anchorage Chrysler Dodge Ram Truck, trailer, snow machine, 22 dogs and about a ton of food and gear.
Drove 8 hours to Cantwell and hooked the dogs to the truck to “truck-mush” on the Denali Highway. Lots of snow. Made it 20 miles and spun out on a hill and almost went in the ditch. Chained up the truck tires, dug out and went on. Stopped at 32 miles for 4.5 hours to rest and feed the dogs and slept in the truck. Janine got the back seat and the sleeping bag.
(I knew it would be a good trip!)
Ran the rest of the way to Alpine Creek Lodge, 68 miles in from Cantwell, road not maintained in winter. Janine kept exclaiming about the scenery and northern lights. We’re the only truck here as all the vehicles have been moved to the plowed road and visitors are on snow machines and dog teams. Rested the dogs 4.5 hours then went on a 25-mile mush with dogs on sleds and snow machine. Janine hasn’t mushed with me in decades and it wasn’t much fun for her then, (mostly my fault) but today made up for it. She ran her own 4-dog team, did a great job and loved it. Beautiful day and wonderful time.
Damon Tedford will join us at Cantwell tomorrow, Janine has to go out and we’re risking getting the truck stranded here for the winter, so we truck-mush the dogs 30 miles out (truck chained up) until we can’t go anymore. We load the dogs in the truck (more traction) and get a run at it for the remaining 35 miles. Made it. Janine’s car is there so she is able to say farewell and go 120 miles to Dallas’ in Talkeetna for the rest of the night. She reports dozens of moose on the road in the snow storm. I sleep in the truck, Grayson on straw in the trailer.
(Janine mushing on the Denali Highway)
Damon, (friend and former client, medical doctor by profession) and I run dog teams and Grayson drives the snow machine and gear sled. Ran 64 miles to the Lodge.
We ran one 60-mile run each day. Easy schedule and evenings off. Blair Braverman is here training for the Iditarod but she’s sick (along with several others at the lodge) and laying low. She declined a greeting hug not wanting to get me sick. I boasted about my strong immune system.
Someone got a dog bite injury requiring stitches (not our party and not by a sled dog). Grayson, an EMT, had brought suture materials, I brought a medical doctor, Damon, and someone produced Advil, Tylenol, and 3 shots Tennessee whiskey. The procedure was deemed a success.
(Janine Mushing on the Denali Highway)
Grayson took Damon back out to the plowed road on the snow machine, towing Damon on his dog sled behind. He wants to catch up with mutual friend Larry Daugherty in Anchorage, then catch his flight home. On the way they stop to help a guy stuck in his pickup 10 miles in from the parking lot (this was almost us). The snow machine failed to restart, and the pickup towed them to the parking lot. Damon’s car started ok, and Grayson was able to jump start the machine off the dog truck enough to get it loaded into the trailer. Grayson slept in the truck a couple of hours.
My cousin Marshall brought another snow machine from Sterling and met and swapped machines with Grayson in Anchorage. It was blowing on the way back to the lodge and going was slow. A piece of the machine’s cowling blew away. Grayson slept a couple of hours on the snow machine seat.
I got quite sick with the flu. Worst I’ve had in 10 years. We mush anyway. Simulated racing. Several long runs with 6 hour stops. Quite a bit of trail breaking. Dallas was training out there too and I stopped at his camp to say hi. We watched Grayson’s sled weaving as he approached. “He’s asleep,” said I.
“Sound asleep,” Dallas agreed.
Continued our training series with a final run back out to the truck with all our stuff. 18 dogs in front of snow machine, big otter sled next, with 4 dogs riding, two dog sleds towed behind.
Awhile before midnight we start driving for home. At the Talkeetna Spur we slept awhile in the truck until we got cold and woke up. Took turns driving and made it home at about 8:00 am. Slept a couple of hours then went through all the dogs for any nicks and dings we need to work on. Nothing much. All are happy for a little rest.
Thats all for now,
(Seavey dogs practice riding)