Yep, I thought that would get your attention! Well, in just a couple of days we’ve managed to earn our redneck stripes and in the words of Honey Boo Boo “I can redneckognized a horny crew when I see one!” I’m talking dogs; not people. Good Lord, a horny musher could possibly be a handler’s worst nightmare. One would have to learn to booty without bending over! Okay, enough of that and back to the dogs who are having a love fest and the people; not so much. That’s right the crew on one side of the truck is out of control and they aren’t shy about it either. This truck is a traveling sex act right now with every point dog that we have being in heat. The boys are practically strangling themselves trying to get to all the floozy girls on the truck and they’re howling like they are going insane. Meanwhile, the floozy girls are all taking turns humping each other and those that aren’t are just plain crabby. The minute those girls are aired, they are all waving their butts and flagging their tails like they’re in some sort of floozy parade; swish, swish and then they scream. Swish, swish and scream!
With all the humping going on it can get a bit tense trying to keep all those hormones in check. Well, last night I made the mistake of moving one dog and turning my back for a split second. Low and behold what do you know; we have a breeding! Fanfreakingtastic! There is no worse feeling then seeing that and realizing that you aren’t getting them apart. I wanted to murder one or both of them. Hmmmmm, that would have solved the pregnancy problem. Ok, not being serious; don’t get your panties in a wad over that dramatic description of how I felt. I would never murder my dogs for being horny and floozy; I would just imagine it. Needless to say, when I realized that we had a tie the “F” bombs flew.
So the kids did the wild thang for 30 minutes; that’s right 30 minutes! Noooooo, it couldn’t be a quickie; it had to take forever. This does wonders for one’s patience at 11PM at night. The post coitus moment turned into a moment of great marital discord amongst the humans. You see, there had been previous discussions about moving the girls way out harm’s way so that no one would make a mistake. Husband disagreed and I, of course, made the mistake. I’m sure everyone at the motel heard our not so calm discussion because I later discovered that our motel room window was open while we were having it. Lots of laughs!! At some point, I was flying home and never returning to Stage Stop; EVER! NEVER AGAIN, NEVER! However, I quickly realized I had no way to get from Big Piney to Jackson Hole in the middle of the night? I call that, “Handler between a rock and a hard place!”
Ok, so you’re wondering why so dramatic? Big deal, everyone has an accidental breeding now and then. Hard to travel with so many dogs and not have an accident. Well, there’s more. Recall the dog that the vets thought had pyrometria? Well, turns out she is actually pregnant. We had thought the pregnancy had been handled, but much to our surprise; it wasn’t. So now we have at least 2 puppies on the way and they should arrive while we are traveling. How special? (Note sarcasm) Now do you redneckognize what I’m talking about?
So our focus is a little messed up right now. Pinedale was a disaster for us despite the standings. The temps were in the low 20’s and they had 10” of fresh new snow. The trail had been groomed the night before. We hooked up 12 healthy dogs and they were raring to go in the chute; this was going to be our day. It was led by two of our best. At about three miles (which appears to be our unlucky number) one of the leaders started crying and was not moving right. Bruce checked his booties because he knew he had sore feet and found nothing. He checked extension and found nothing. He thought maybe he was cramping. He got the dog going again, but he was off the entire run. He left him in lead because he thought he was carrying a pace still better than any other leader he had in the team to replace him with. The trail was loose and punchy in certain areas and the wind picked up the second half forcing the teams to drive into the headwinds.
The team came in somewhat dejected with a couple sore dogs. The leader appears to have overstretched and has a sore bicep. Worse than normal, we are struggling with very sore feet right now; which is a result of not wearing booties in Alpine. The course snow damaged pads; which are bit more difficult to repair quickly. We are working on the feet multiple times a day trying to repair them as quickly as possible, but this is feeling like a losing game. I’m lazering, I’m massaging, I’m putting magic potions on them, I’m gluing and I’m just flat out praying. Many teams are in a similar boat as us, but that doesn’t make the situation any better.
The bottle was shaken up again today with John Stewart taking the yellow bib and we saw the overalls do some shifting. We are starting to feel like we are on a gravel hill and slowly sliding backwards. We can feel the pull like someone has us by the legs (probably JR) and we can’t shake them; yep definitely JR!!
We came to Big Piney all re-energized. Sometimes a little marital spat helps get rid of the bad juju and you can start fresh. Now we are like newlyweds; ok, I’m exaggerating. We were confident in the team we put together and had 2 fresh leaders. We heard the trail was punchy in sections and the race told us they would be checking to ensure there were no gimpy dogs going to the line as they wouldn’t make it in the trail conditions and it was too hot to have to carry dogs. Everyone was dreading what was to come. It was 32 degrees when we arrived and it felt warm. The team was in good spirits and we felt confident. I don’t know why that’s even relevant because it rarely predicts the outcome. Bruce had troubles immediately out of the chute with his point dog, but he managed to get her going. After she worked through it; she stroked it, but managed to add to slowing them down for a brief period. Then the team just went flat out in the loose trail. They were running very uncharacteristic of themselves and not like we had trained. This, of course, has us scratching our heads trying to figure out the problem. We certainly never train in this type of heat and that could have been a factor, but to dispel that notion when the team hit the hard fast trail; they rocked.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough of that type of trail to make an impact and we wound up in 9th place pushing us further down the gravel hill. On the bright side, the marriage is solid and there are some happy dogs on the truck and WE’RE GOING TO HAVE PUPPIES!! If I sound a little insane; perhaps I am. You have to be to endure this rollercoaster.
Ryan Redington proved that surviving the rollercoaster can often pay off considerably when he took first place today. So far in the race he’s seen last place and 1st place. He’s gone from wanting to go home to sporting a yellow bib. Way to go Ryan!
Never before have we seen the yellow bib switch hands so often. There have been a lot of teams on the roller coaster this year with huge ups and downs. Two more days of racing left and we’re hoping that we are on the upswing. Tomorrow is Kemmerer and they announced that they were shortening the course to 37 miles due to the heat they are expecting. The majority of mushers were glad for the decision. Stay tuned; the bottle is shaking!
This may be the world’s longest blog because I keep running out of time to post it so you are getting three stages in one!
We arrived in Kemmerer and it was 39 degrees at 6:45AM. This was not good. There was concern amongst everyone for the welfare of the dogs. They had already shortened the course, but decided to allow teams to drop a dog at the 7 mile mark either coming or going along with a time penalty. They sent a vet out with our snowmobile and a dog crate on the back. We were thankful to have an earlier start.
We had 10 healthy dogs; the majority of which required booties due to feet issues. In the chute the team was just amped. The trail was relatively hard with some punchy sections. It was by far the best trail Bruce had ever seen in Kemmerer. The wind was a real issue with 60-70 mph cross winds at the top. There were several times Bruce almost got blown off the trail. Several times the team was blown on the wrong side of the markers; however, they handled it amazingly well and charged right into it. About 7 miles in, Bruce had to pull a leader out and switch things up. He had several great passes, but had a very difficult time finishing the passes with Jacob Golton and Al Borak who were running together. Eventually, he broke free from them and cruised on in to capture the yellow bib! WAHOOOO!!!
Tomorrow we have our work cut out for us. We must have a clean, fast run and be sure not to bring any questionable dogs. The normal trail has been changed due to logging and so they have improvised with a figure 8 trail requiring the teams to complete three steep climbs with three descents. This will include lots of head on passing in these areas as well. The temps are supposed to be in the mid-forties, but they are telling us it will be winter at the trail head. We’re looking for all the positive mojo you can send our way for a successful run tomorrow! Stay tuned