Posts Tagged ‘Alaska’

Big Rivers (Iditarod 2)


March 11th, 2015 Posted 8:43 am

Here’s a very interesting overnight report from Rebecca (CEO of Snowhook Kennel) on yesterday’s portion of the race. Below (thanks Barb B.) – Rebecca and AJ with teammates Chet and Bernie (yes!). Just because we like it so much.


The race to this point is quite different than this point in last year’s race, a night and day kind of difference. Rather than running excited teams down an unrunnable trail, teams will spend ample time running on the river. The idea of flat mile after flat mile may seem easy and preferable. However, river travel can be boring for both dogs and musher. Boredom is a short journey to becoming demoralized.

AJ and the team will say good-bye to the Tanana River before running several miles on the mighty Yukon River. And, mighty is right. Both the Tanana and Yukon are massive rivers. The first time I saw the Tanana River, I remember thinking how very small in the world I felt compared to its size. The distance from shore to shore on these rivers leaves teams exposed to elements.

With the exception of brief overland trails, most of the race will be run on the river until teams reach the coast of Alaska. On the longer runs between checkpoints like the run between Tanana and Ruby, AJ will camp the team on the trail. AJ will likely haul a bale of straw out of the Tanana checkpoint for camping on the trail. Straw has a hollow core and provides a bed of insulation for the dogs. Straw combined with a putting dog jackets on the dogs and then covering them with fleece blankets can give the team extra warmth.

The name of the game for Snowhook’s musher and mutts especially on these long river miles is simple: Run. Rest. Repeat.


On the Iditarod Trail (More)


March 8th, 2014 Posted 8:50 am

Why are we so enthusiastic about Snowhook, our team in the Iditarod? Just read Rebecca’s overnight race report and you’ll know.

The team has arrived safely in Ruby, the first checkpoint on the mighty Yukon, and the second of our dropped dogs are now home. I picked up Natty, a lead dog today. She is currently on the loveseat and snoring.

The team made quick work of the run from Cripple to Ruby which is no surprise on the hard and fast trail. I expect him to rest the team for several hours before continuing down the Yukon River onto Galena. Pacing the team does not merely mean riding the brake to keep the team at a steady gait rather than running too fast. Pacing is also about what AJ does when he’s off the trail.

Whether he’s camping on the trail or resting the team at a checkpoint, AJ will tend to the dogs quickly so the dogs can get as much rest as possible. He will give each dog straw to communicate to the dogs that resting is the name of the game. While snow melts in his cooker and he prepares a meal of kibble and meat, AJ will remove booties from the dogs’ feet and examine each member of the team. He will rub their muscles and paws with ointments, and cover them with dog jackets and blankets. This routine is all about efficiency. The quicker he tends to the dogs, the more they are able to rest. When his chores are complete, he will tend to his own stomach, any equipment repairs, and eventually, his own heavy eyelids. Depending on how long he intends to rest the team, AJ’s work will begin again in a few short hours as he prepares another meal for the dogs, re-examines each dog, and puts booties on 64 paws.


Melanie remains in our hearts.

And, thanks to ML, more of what it looks like up there:



On the Iditarod Trail (More)


March 7th, 2014 Posted 7:36 am

Here, from Rebecca (CEO of Snowhook, our team in the race), is her brave overnight report, for which we’re very grateful:

The team is currently on the trail to Cripple, yet will likely have arrived by the time many of the Plunderers read this post. It is a long haul.

Because of my recent health concerns, AJ received permission from the race marshal for me to send updates about my health status to AJ during the race. AJ insisted these updates occur at each and every checkpoint along the trail. Is AJ overprotective?—-Yep.

Doing as I was instructed, I provided my standard issue ‘I’m fine,’ and ‘all is well,’’ email when the team reached Ophir. Shortly after, I received an email from a volunteer at the checkpoint. The short, clipped sentences informed me that AJ’s ribs are hurting and that he loves me. That’s it. Nothing more. It is likely his body was more than jostled as he hit and hammered the trees along the trail from the Steps, through the Gorge and onto the Burn. However, the trail reports for the interior of the race are that it is hard and fast. Despite the much improved trail conditions, AJ plans to pace the team. It won’t be too long before the team drops onto the mighty Yukon.

AJ dropped Natty, a dependable lead dog before the trek to Ophir. She will be welcomed home in the near future as Orion was on Thursday night. At this point of the race, when dogs are dropped for injury or illness, they are shipped to Anchorage. From there they will be sent to the women’s correctional facility where they will receive great care before they can be picked up and brought home. The dogs are treated like celebrities. It is a wonderful program for women who may have been estranged from family and friends to care for members of the nation within the nation. Dogs—they offer support without judgment.

While my mind may be on the trail and the race, my heart is with Melanie. We are honored to consider her a friend of Snowhook Kennel.

And, to set the scene, this photo courtesy of ML:



Go Snowhook!


March 2nd, 2014 Posted 8:27 am

The Iditarod starts today and all we’re thinking about is “our” team – Snowhook! – and the lucky Plunderers (a wonderful group of readers who gather at this blog) who have made the journey to Alaska and are on the scene (see below). We’ll have frequent updates from Rebecca, CEO of Snowhook. Yesterday was the ceremonial start and  here’s what Rebecca had to say about that:

The Ceremonial Start is an eleven mile blur that runs through the streets of Anchorage with fans, chatter, and photographs before, during and after the run.  As part of the chatter we were able to share that our race was dedicated to our dear friend, Melanie.

Upon arriving home, AJ set to making minor repairs to his sled.  The name of the game for musher and dogs the night before the restart is rest.  This is the first year AJ will go into the race rested and not running in a deficit of sleep.

As I type this email the starting line up has been drafted, yet won’t be finalized until he loads the dogs in the truck before heading to the starting line.   It is the last slot on the roster that is always difficult to fill.  What is not difficult is knowing that we have the Plunderers on the trail with us in spirit.

Plunder on!

Welcome new friends Habi (chewing Spanish moss – from Louisiana, maybe?) and Bunny. 




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