A Quick Recap

3 January 2012     11.00 PM      -22 F    Clear

Not enough hours in the day, not enough days in the week. At least that is the way it seems most of the time here. Or it could simply be that too much time is being spent enjoying life, visiting with friends and drinking coffee. I am very much in favour of all of these things, so it’s not like I am complaining about them. However, in the unlikely event that any of you have actually been waiting on a blog update, then those are the main excuses reasons I plan on hiding behind to explain the lack of productivity.

The Dogs

Our dogs continue to be the most wonderful part of living in Alaska. To be able to look outside and see them all playing, sleeping, eating or just fooling around is truly one of life’s greatest gifts. To make it even more fantastic, we then get to run them in harness and explore the local and not so local trails. The last few weeks have seen us get further out than we’ve managed in previous winters, and run on some trails we’ve never been on. The dogs have done very well and have also greatly improved their head on passing. They no longer collapse like an accordion, but now move smoothly over to the far side of the trail – although on many occasions, that can mean a shift of merely a few inches which will take them almost into the deep soft snow – and cruise past the oncoming team, with barely a glance in their direction. To say this makes me happy, is an understatement.

The dogs also excelled themselves when we had a spell of milder weather that led to some of the sloughs opening up and the appearance of open water, called overflow, on some sections of the trails. Our first couple of encounters with this unpleasant phenomenon caused a few unsettling moments for some of the younger dogs, but Oscar was unfazed and just ploughed straight on through it. That seemed to be the positive reinforcement those more cautious dogs needed and by the end of that day’s run, they were charging through 18″ deep water with barely a second thought, even one puddle that Lily nearly had to swim across.

Dog team heading across some overflowOscar and Quiz brave the water, Mermaid is trying to stay dry
Dogs getting a drink and snack after a sled runDrinks and snacks all round. Leaders are Quiz and Ruby.

One of my ambitions for this winter had been to enter a mid-distance race or two. Sadly, it looks like we’re not going to be ready to do that, but on the positive side, it means we can concentrate on running the dogs without the additional pressure of trying to meet mileage deadlines.

The Puppies

Cuchi’s puppies are continuing to grow at a great pace and are a constant source of fun and joy. They were successfully and easily weaned onto solid food and are always happy to see us appear with the “flying saucer” filled with their meal. I think Cuchi is pretty happy when the food arrives too as it means she finally gets a break from the voracious little monsters. The pups are 8 weeks old on Wed 4th and Cuchi is pretty much finished letting them suckle, and given the size of their teeth and strength of their jaws, I for one, can’t blame her. She’s started doing a bit more disciplining of them too, whenever the playing gets out of hand.

Puppies at feeding timeThe flying saucer of goodness

We’ve also started taking the pups outside for short play periods. I guess one of the drawbacks of winter puppies is that whilst they are nice and cosy in the garage most of the time, going outside to play when it’s -10F is a little bit of a culture shock for their wee feet. The first afternoon, it was a contest between the cold and the snow as to which surprised them the most.

Puppies playing in the snowStill hanging around their mum at nearly 8 weeks old.

The People

This winter we’ve had our friend Lizzy staying with us to help out. Part of her plan was to go back to Scotland for the Christmas holidays. Having got used to working with that extra set of hands, we were delighted with the news that our friend Lisa had somehow managed to convince her husband to let her spend 4 weeks with us in Alaska over Christmas. So, Lisa arrived, just a couple of days before Lizzy left and very quickly slotted into our routine. She’s been a great help and hopefully has enjoyed her time with us and our dogs and getting out on the trail.

We also had a wonderful Christmas Day, a little hectic maybe, preparing dinner for 12, but the end result was worth all of the time and effort. It was quite an international gathering with our American friends, us and Lisa from Scotland, Mille from Denmark, Joar from Norway and Michael and Nikolay from Russia. I think everyone had a good time and judging by the empty plates, the food was well received too.

So, from all of us involved with Gealach Mor, best wishes to every one for 2012.

 

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