This mushing season has sucked. It hasn't all been bad--no tangles in the few head on passes we did with other teams; Franklin the Alligator didn't have any major trouble with loose dogs; Tehya has turned into a fine little working dog....but the snow came late; it wasn't possible to set a snow hook until after Christmas; Mac had a disasterous run that I don't even want to think about let alone post about; it was -40 or colder for weeks on end; and now the snow is leaving early.
I went for a run after work tonight, thinking the trail might be a bit hard and wee bit faster than usual; knowing the road crossing was going to nasty thanks to the city deciding to plow Fireweed for the first bloody time all winter a few days ago. As a motor vehicle driver, they did a great job; as a sled driver, it's horrible with huge ridges pushed way back into the ditch and plenty of pavement exposed. Good thing I never put new plastic on this year!
About 10 feet out of the gate, I was thankful I only hooked up five dogs! The trail was not hard packed. It was ice! The snowmobile tracks sent vibrations straight up my leg! I swear my contact lenses were shaking! It was all I could do to stay with the team at the road! The trails aren't usually like this til mid-April!
But the lake was nice. No trailbreaking or wandering about looking for a track tonight.
I strongly suspect this was the last run of Paxil's career, unless we get some more snow soon, which the Weather Network is not predicting! It's not that Paxil doesn't still enjoy working. She loves it and she's still a remarkably reliable leader. But she is 12 and she's had several health crisis. She has definately slowed down this year and often her tug line was slack. I'd sure like to see her continue, for my own selfish reasons. I am not sure what I'm going to do without her! I have relied on her very heavily in the past three winters. Tehya and Anvik aren't ready to take over for her yet. Pingo has made it clear that she is a couch husky. I thought Sundin would step up, but he has shown me that although he can lead and he does a decent job of it, he is much happier in swing or even wheel.
We made it home in one piece and all at the same time! It's been several years since I walked home without my team(knock on wood). We had the trail to ourselves for the entire run, except a few squirrel and birds. Considering the trail conditions, it was a smooth run. A mushing friend told me years ago to always end a season on a good run, even if that meant quitting early or driving for hours to find more snow! Unless we get a few inches of snow, I'm calling this season as of tonight!