WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS

Tuesday morning was bitter cold so we were a little slow getting motivated.  We met the Swingley’s at the Yankee Doodle for some breakfast and sat around and shot the bull for a couple hours.  I was very proud that I was able to restrain from ordering the Doodle’s Revenge for the 3rd or 4th day in a row.  Instead, I watched with envy as Mel savored the Mexican delight!  The Swingley crew were heading to Dubois to get a training run in and our plan was to run one more time in Alpine and then head to Dubois that evening, we had plans to meet for dinner (yeah, more human conversation!!).  Bruce and I got to the parking lot and got ourselves all geared up for the bitter training run and took off.  The parking lot was a sheet of ice and we just sailed to the trail head.  About one mile in, Bruce turns and starts pointing into the woods to his right and yelling.  I got on the brake and saw in front of him a very large moose in the trail looking at him.  He didn’t see it because he was pointing in the woods.  When he turned around he slams on the brake and the moose is just looking at him.  She then turns and starts running down the trail and he continues on and is yelling at me to hurry up.  I’m thinking, “Shit, what now.  This was my worst fear at the Can-Am and here I am in a potential nightmare.”  I started following hesitantly as I realized he had been pointing to a moose calf in the woods.  So now here we were right between a mother moose and her calf on the trail with two hot dog teams.  HELP!  The moose stopped and did another stare down before leaping into the woods.  Bruce is yelling, “Come On” as he sees that she is thinking about coming back out in front of me.  I have never been so thankful for fast dogs and I let them rip.  A little later as we are cruising along we encounter a bull elk in the trail.  Just as we see it 3 snowmobilers drove past and scared it away.  On the way home, I found myself just hoping that Mama Moose traveled along and wasn’t sitting there waiting for us.  She wasn’t.  When we arrived at the parking lot I stopped on the trail and set my snow hook because I knew there would be no way to stop the team going to the truck.  Bruce attempted the final 250 yards to the truck and it was ugly.  Anker decided to turn right between 2 trucks bouncing Bruce off the bumper.  Then he tried to make a full circle around the truck and Bruce tore off the loading ramp on the truck’s trailer and finally wound up with the sled wedged underneath the truck.  I couldn’t see the festivities, but it was quite humorous to hear the background noise, “Whoa!  NO!  HAW, HAW, WHOA DAMMIT, GEE GEE, NO!!!  WHOAA!” !  The wildlife encounters continued as we headed to Dubois and spotted a Mountain Goat, Buffalo, Elk and a WOLF!  It was the most wildlife we have ever seen out here.  (Check out photos of the Alpine Training in the Gallery).

That evening we met Doug, Mel and John in town and Debbie Moderow and her handler, Matt joined us for dinner.  It was a very enjoyable dinner and we shared several laughs (exactly why we love coming to this race). 

There have been several changes to the race roster, which has been very interesting.  There have been so many substitutions that I told Bruce the damn race better start or I’m going to find myself on the runners at the rate things are going.  Here are some of the changes:  Doug Swingley switched with John Stewart who will run the Swingley “B” team and Doug is going to handle ;)!  The Gilbertson’s are now down to two teams and those drivers have all been changed; Ted had to leave due to an unfortunate family illness so Wendy Davis will be returning to drive the main team.  Mary is not coming and a longtime friend of the family, Ken, will take her place on the “B” team.  Terry Adkins is no longer running, but Jean Wise will instead.  Jarle Halsnes will be replaced by his daughter.  Dennis Laboda dropped out becuase he came down with the flu and couldn’t get the training the dogs needed, which opened up a spot for Debbie Moderow.  Then in a last dramatic change we learn that Emil from Switzerland cannot race due to an injury he sustained in the LeGrande Odysee and Jami Nelson also dropped out due to an injury at White Oak.  So at the last minute Jeff King signed up with 2 teams and is on his way. 

In addition to the roster changes, we are hearing rumors about several changes to the race itself, which should be interesting.  We’ve heard that Lander is struggling for snow so we will not be crossing over to Irish Canyon, but doing an approx. 50 mile loop.  The start at Pinedale has changed and they will be running the course backward starting in town and finishing out of town (snow should be sufficient).  The start at Alpine is also changing and will start in town to get more community involvement and snow is great.  We’ve heard that Kemmerer is struggling for snow and the start may need to change there as well.  Big Piney is fine and they intend to groom 3 days prior and we will all be praying that they do not get any snow between then and race day so we don’t have a repeat of last year.    Park City just got some snow, but temps are heading to the 40’s so they are ready with plans A-D.  That’s the great thing about racing in Wyoming……….you never know what Mother Nature has in store from one day to the next. 

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