We move slowly down the Yentna and I put Lasar up front with Bear. I have used Lasar a few times in training up front. Although he doesn’t know his commands he runs forward. This gives Luna a break and keeps the team moving. Lasar keeps drifting off the hard pack trail away from the trail markers and Bear’s letting him go. We get back to the Susitna and in cell coverage around 2 AM. I call Mary and tell her about my decision and ask her to call the Knik Bar and inform the race rep that I am scratching. The team and I are ok and I will drive the team to Burma Rd. I ask Mary to pick us up.
We are still having issues with Bear and Lasar, so I put Luna up with Lasar and that seems to help. We make it off the Susitna River, through Dismal swamp and Flathorn Lake. I decide to snack the team on the far side of Flathorn Lake and that’s when Luna decided she wanted to rest more. I give them a little break and then I move Thursby up front and we were off. Now I have 2 wheel dogs leading the team. This worked for a little bit until Thursby was getting irritated when the swing dogs moved next to him. I try a few other dogs up front and they would either lead for a little bit or just not go at all.
I let the team rest and this gives me time to figure out what to do next. There is only one dog left that I haven’t tried up front and he is much like Bear when Bear was younger. Bear has the puppy version of ADD and only 2 brain cells. Bear doesn’t always bring both brain cells with him. He is afraid he is going to lose one of them. So, I am looking at Hawkeye and finally decide to give him a chance up front. He is the only one I haven’t tried, but he can be a knucklhead sometimes. He loves to run forward and at this point that’s all I need. Lasar is doing ok at taking commands and I can take the time to train them as long as we can keep moving. This combination is working and we are off. I know these two get along since they have been running wheel together for quite awhile. I am really surprised that Hawkeye is moving forward and not trying to stop and mark everything.
We get to the Nome Sign and I decide to stop and snack one last time. This is when everyone lays down to rest and they are out. Then my bulb in my headlamp blew and I replace it, then the batteries are weak and I replace them. I let the team rest for about half an hour and then roust them and off we go.
The last few miles weren’t too bad and the team did great. We made it to Burma Road and the truck was waiting for us. Mary moves the front end off the trail and we load dogs in the boxes and off to the house.
It took us 9 hours to get back to the truck. There were a lot of other issues we had to work through which contributed to the time it took to get back to the truck.
On the way home, I chatted with Mary for a little bit, but sleep deprivation took over and I slept all the way back to the house. It took a while for the buttons on my sweater to defrost enough so I could actually get undressed. The dogs went to their kennels and went to sleep.
I took a hot shower, poured a scotch, crawled under the covers, positioned a pillow under my very painful shoulder in hopes of keeping pressure off of it and fell asleep to a football game. Mary crawled into bed shortly after me. I forgot how little sleep she has had as she helped with drop bags, getting the team ready and then having to come pick us up.
Mary went to feed the dogs about 6 hours later and they are bouncing around as if they had been locked up all night. This was good to see and told me that it was the conditioning plan that needed adjustment, but then again I have known and stated this since late Sept/early Oct.
The dogs did great and I am very proud of them.
Let it be stated, that I didn't scratch because of the cold temps orbecause of my shoulder, but due to the lack of conditioning of myteam and that is my responsibility.