When we woke this AM it was -20F and when we arrived at the race site it was -25F! Just a tad chilly. It was strongly recommended by Race Marshall that all teams booty dogs and that if any dogs were not booted they would be checked for splits and pulled from the team that day. Every team I saw had booties, with the exception of a couple dogs, and many had coats and furs to protect the dogs. The temps stayed frigid the entire day with no relief. When we pulled out it was still -23F on the temperature gage! The trail was in awesome condition and the best Bruce has ever seen. However, we threw some salt on our frozen wounds with another bad run.
In the words of Britney Spears, “Ooops we did it again!” That’s right we bagged another dog and the brave soul that I am is telling the world. This time we went for broke and carried the 55lb dog for 40 miles!! Certainly, there must be a puke green bib for this huge feat. We have now acquired Master Dog Bagging Status. It’s like being a black belt and takes years to perfect!
So the big question is WHY??? How can you keep winding up in this situation? Good questions. We can now rule out that Lander has bad juju. The only obvious answer is that WE have bad juju. Over a couple of slaw dogs we further investigated this “Cosmic Luxa Flux” with some fellow mushers after the race. We learned that both of us have small luck buckets BECAUSEEEEEEE, according to ancient Chinese face reading theories, we both have small ear lobes! That’s right; small ear lobes. Go figure. The problem was right in our face; literally! I presently have Bruce’s ears attached to strings tied to the door knobs on opposite ends of the room in an effort to increase the size of his lobes. Plus, I have arranged for fellow big lobed friends to show up at the truck tomorrow to sprinkle a little luck around the truck.
If you’re thinking that this is starting to sound like crazy talk, you are on to something. These are the type of conversations that occur after running 5 stages. This is the craziness that seeps in when all you want to do is find answers to your problems. Shoot, I’d by a crystal ball if I thought it would help. Here is what I can tell you. We bagged the same dog today that we bagged on day 2. He was checked over thoroughly and palpated in every way imaginable. Muscles checked out great, mood checked out great, hydration/nutrition were great and he was moving fine in the parking lot with no obvious gait issues. This dog was ready to go. We thought that he was bagged the first day due to cramping and the way he jumped back quickly led us to further believe this. He was on fire in the chute.
3 miles out he literally laid down and said, “NO, I’m not going!” So Bruce bagged him. He was now faced with 40 miles to go, -25 below temps and 9 dogs left on the line to make it up several long climbs. Bruce was dressed like a Polar Explorer and given the situation he should have had on running shoes and spandex. Needless to say the situation overcame his emotions and after many expletives and cussing at everyone he could think of (including myself), the team immediately went flat. He realized that it wasn’t the team’s fault and quickly got control of his emotions to try and make the best of his situation. The team got passed by a couple of teams and this jazzed them up and they started rolling. The desire and training was there, but they were handicapped and we couldn’t overcome to try and maintain anything in the top ten.
The vets looked at the dog and agreed with all muscular assessments and then noticed the dog was seriously out of adjustment as one side of the ribs was flat and the other was rounded. This observation was only noticeable to the trained eye. It was a relief to see that they found something and a bummer that we were not skilled enough to catch it. We also learned that one of the other dogs that was bagged in Lander had a rib out of adjustment and muscularly she is also fine. The dog that was bagged in Alpine just ran the last two stages and led Pinedale and has been on fire.
To the best of our abilities we are going to try and break this cycle tomorrow and it’s all in the big guy’s hands. The trail is supposed to be 38 miles. Temps are expected to be -20 – 25F again so we expect to booty and coat our dogs. If all goes well, Bruce’s ear lobes will be so huge in the morning that we could not possibly have bad luck!