If you are not mushing and dog fans, you can stop reading! This time of year, I am totally enthralled with my special weird passion. A considerable pack of the racers are at the halfway point now, having survived some horrible trail conditions--a big stretch that was almost totally glare ice, a trek across a burn scar that was bare of snow and studded with rocks and jagged stumps etc and then some more ice. Finally they are far enough north to have gotten to some good solid snow and the pace is picking up. But now there is wind chill to contend with and cold in the sub zero range.
I have to chuckle at this poster. It says it all! And "only" twenty five miles? What pikers those humans are!! This looks like one of the Siberian Huskies some of the mushers favor. There are several kinds of huskies and some other dogs that are used too.
From what I have read, the bad trail was a lot worse for the mushers and very hard on equipment but the dogs generally fared pretty well. There were some crashes where the dogs got going too fast and could not stop on the ice and sleds were wrecked and some mushers hurt. Only one serious enough to require him to scratch out, with a broken leg. But one guy is going on with a trashed up knee, probably serious ACL damage but he has braced and taped it and will not quit! These folks are not sissies, for sure. Yes, it has become big business but it is, IMHO, a lot less phony and big-biz shenanigans than most professional sports and even college sports. It's about as real as it gets. No WWF stunts here. Basically it is a man or woman and their dogs against the worst Mother Nature can throw at them and the sheer endurance required to go 1,000 miles. That would not be easy with a wheeled cart on a smooth track in moderate weather but --well, I am sure you get the picture!
Speaking of pictures, the Iditarod site has some great photos but they are copyrighted and I am not going to share them here as much as I would like to. You can also visit Aliy and her husband's "Skunk's Place Kennels" site to see a lot more. By the way, Skunk was Aliy's first lead dog when she arrived in Alaska and began to mush, even before she met her husband and they combined forces to race and raise sled dogs. I can tell how much she loved that dog and that's why the somewhat odd name. Here is the link to their blog page and site: http://spkenneldoglog.blogspot.com/
Stories are coming out by the several bloggers who are following the race, many literally going along by snow machines and planes from checkpoint by checkpoint. If you have any doubts how much these mushers love their dogs, you wouldn't once you read these tales. One guy was almost in tears when one of his lead dogs inexplicably began to fade so he got him to the nearest check point and left him with the vets there to be flown back to Anchorage for TLC until the race is over. Most mushers have to drop at least a dog or two as they keep close tabs on their team and the vets check each dog at every check point. Some mushers even pull a 'caboose' trailer behind the sled where they can carry a weak or injured dog to safety.Others ride on the main sled atop the musher's sled bag or gear carrying bag that attaches to the sled.
Anyway as to "going to the dogs," I had impulsively signed up for something on line and then decided to cancel. I figured what I had paid was lost, so I was very surprised that they refunded the full amount without any hassle at all. That "found" money has now gone to be a supporter of the SPKennel site and become an official 'fan' of Aliy's sweet female lead dog, Quito. Quito is a small husky, not much bigger than Belle and Ginger but she and Aliy have terrific rapport and that has to be one very clever and canny little girl dog! She led Aliy's team across those horrible 3-400 miles in relatively good shape. Aliy had some bumps and bruises but she and her equipment came through relatively unscathed. No one made that part of the trail without some scars to show for it this time. Several scratched out before they got to the worst part including Aliy's friend and former mentor Deedee Jonrowe who at 60 is one of the older women to be still running this race. I am not sure but think she is a cancer survivor or honors one as she always wears a pink parka and her dogs have pink harness and booties. She is on the cover of this year's program in a shot from last year's race.
Late Note: Yes, Deedee is a breast cancer survivor and ran one Iditarod shortly after completing chemotherapy treatment. Talk about dedicated, determined, and amazing! I think she finished in the top ten that time--awesome or what?
So enough on that until the winner crosses under the burled arch at Nome. probably some time next Monday or even Tuesday. They still have a lot of hard miles to cover and out there literally anything can happen. Most of the grizzleys are hibernating but the wolves are out and about and one stalked a walker who is following the race on foot. They have followed some of the mushers at times too but seem unwilling to tackle a team of dogs that are close to a match in size and strength for them since wolves seldom hunt in groups of 12-16!
Offer of a copy of the program still stands for a randomly selected commentor on these Iditarod related posts!
Welcome to my World
Welcome to the domain different--to paraphrase from New Mexico's capital city of Santa Fe which bills itself "The City Different." Perhaps this space is not completely unique but my world shapes what I write as well as many other facets of my life. The four Ds figure prominently but there are many other things as well. Here you will learn what makes me tick, what thrills and inspires me, experiences that impact my life and many other antidotes, vignettes and journal notes that set the paradigm for Dierdre O'Dare and her alter ego Gwynn Morgan and the fiction and poetry they write. I sell nothing here--just share with friends and others who may wander in. There will be pictures, poems, observations, rants on occasion and sometimes even jokes. Welcome to our world!