Happy New Year

11 Feb 2017        6.00 PM     3 F     Clear and sunny

Tradition has it that I post a photograph of our Happy Crew at their gate, taken on New Year’s Day. I can’t quite recall how this particular “tradition” started, and unfortunately, I forgot to take one this year.

In part, that was because the snow level was so poor that it was a little depressing.  This season has been the latest that we had to wait to get on sleds. Our previous latest was Dec 4th, this year, it was Dec 19th. Given that much earlier in the season, we had briefly considered entering a race in McGrath to be held on the 18th, it was perhaps just as well we decided we’d probably not be ready for a 200 mile race in mid-December. (And as it happened, the race was cancelled due to a lack of snow anyway.)  However, since then we’ve been blessed with mucho snowfall – almost too much on occasions, but let’s not be ungrateful, seeing as we spend most of the autumn praying and doing snow dances.  So here is the traditional photo for 2017. For comparison, you can check out previous years’ entries.

Some of the Gealach Mor Happy Crew 2017

An Update

29 January 2015        10.30 PM    -4 F         Dark

So, where should I start ?

An apology or a greeting. Let’s be positive and say Happy New Year, welcome to 2015. Not too sure what exactly has happened to the days and weeks since I last managed to post anything – rest assured the lack of productivity on here has not been due to a lack of activity in the kennel or with our dogs – in fact the opposite is true.

As is traditional, let me share the New Year’s Day gate photo.

New Yer's Day Jan 2015. Not exactly stellar snow fall this winter.
New Year’s Day Jan 2015.
Not exactly stellar snow fall this winter.

Looking back at previous years, this is not the lowest snow level on January 1 that we have experienced, but it certainly is close.


What have I been doing in the weeks since my last blog post ? Well, it can be summed up in just a few words – training dogs, caring for dogs and worrying about dogs.   I set myself some goals in September

the rough plan was :

  1.  Do some camping/checkpoint training with the dogs.  Succeeded – well, one camping/checkpoint thingie done, should have done more, will try to……………
  2.  Enter the Willow Relay Sled Race (with TJ of Cold Canyon Sled Dogs as the other team) run in late Dec. Entered – race was cancelled due to crappy snow conditions.
  3. Enter the Knik 100  – run in early Jan Entered – race was delayed till Jan 31,  then subsequently cancelled – yes, I am that unlucky.
  4. Enter the Earl Norris Memorial Race – run in late Jan.  Starts on saturday – I’m about to enter – still not too late for it to be cancelled !
  5. Enter the Two Rivers 200 – run in mid March – unlikely to make this, besides every race I have entered since we moved to Alaska 5 years ago has been cancelled or moved.  If the Two Rivers people want to send me a bribe to stay away, I’ll happily accept. 
  6. Have fun.  Succeeded – more smiles than previous years, more miles on the dogs than previous years  (many, many more miles)
    "camping" at the truck. Most of them got the idea and rested.
    “camping” at the truck. Most of them got the idea and rested.

    The core group of running dogs, aka The Fabulous 14 have become The Terrific 13  – Tess decided that she wasn’t quite ready to make the commitment required to stay in the big group, so she got to start her summer holidays early. The Terrific 13 occasionally became The Troubling 12 and even dipped down to become The Alarmingly Low 11 for a short spell. However, those injuries seem to have cleared up and we are back to the full 13 as a training pool again.

Fingers crossed we get to keep enjoying the rest of the winter and that some more snow is on the way.

Happy New Year

1 January 2014      12  F      Overcast

As has become tradition, it is time to wish each every one of you a very Happy New Year and best wishes for whatever adventures come your way in 2014.

1 January 2014

Equally traditionally, is the now obligatory dogs at the gate “snow gauge” picture. As you can see, we’re doing reasonably well this winter. Enough for the trails to be in good condition but not so much that we’re overwhelmed by the requirement to dig our way out the house. What is a little disconcerting is just how few dogs have bothered to make an appearance for their moment in front of the camera. There used to be quite a few more dogs in this particular pen, but 3 of them were moved into the house over the past few weeks and so there are several vacant spots here now.

Happy New Year 2013

1 January 2013      4.00 PM      30 F      Snowing lightly

From all the 2 legged and 4 legged members of Gealach Mor Kennel, we’d like to wish each and every one out there a very Happy New Year and hope that the year ahead will be full of blessings, joy, adventure and fun.

At the end of each year, we’re all given the chance to clean the slate and start afresh, to make vague promises to do things differently/better/more consistently. Accordingly, I hereby promise to blog a bit more often – I certainly can’t promise it will be better – I am already trying my best !

Jan 1, 2013
Jan 1, 2013

As you can see from the now traditional, New Year’s Day, “dogs at the gate” photograph, this has been a less than stellar snow year so far. We’ve actually only had 2 snow fall days, the last being over 3 weeks ago. Compared to the craziness of last winter, when practically everyone was pleading for the snow to stop falling, it almost seems a little two-faced to be moaning about the lack of snow. But that’s mushers for you…………  we’re never happy with the weather.




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.


Happy New Year

2 January 2012     6.00 PM    -7 F  Cloudy (but it’s dark so maybe not)

Oh dear, there seems to have been a bit of tardiness in my blog entering. So, for that, many apologies and I do promise to be a more regular and committed blogger this year. Agreed, that is a promise or New Year’s Resolution I made last year as well, but hopefully, I will be a bit more successful this year.

There has been a lot happening here in the last few weeks and I will go back and do an update with some of the more memorable moments, but for now, I just wanted to wish everyone a slightly belated Happy Hogmanay and a very prosperous and joyful New Year for 2012.

I’m also going to continue my New Year’s Day “family” photograph tradition.

our dogs at the gate New Year's DayBringing in the New Year.

Looking back at the New Year’s Day photos from 2010 and 2011, we have a whole lot more snow this year. Although, I didn’t need the photo to remind me, as the blisters and sore backs from all the shovelling we have been doing is reminder enough. Still, it makes for great sled trails and very picturesque scenery.



and you miss it. It being time.  Seems like no sooner is the alarm clock wailing at me to get up than I am thinking it must be close to bedtime. Of course, the hours in between are stuffed full of activity, mostly dog related and it is obviously that which magics away the time.

We have just had our second December in Alaska, we shared Christmas dinner with new friends, spoiled our dogs and watched the lunar eclipse under a perfectly clear sky, sprinkled with stars. We’ve run dogs with the sled, explored for new trails on our snowmachine, decorated our Christmas tree and eaten turkey leftovers in every way, shape and form possible. Life is full and it’s very, very good.

Ciobair in her new winter coat
Ciobair models her Christmas present, a brand new winter coat.

The dogs are all in great shape with no feet worries from the miles they have been running.  All in all, it’s been a most awesome year dude and we’re very much looking forward to the rest of the season and the many more years and miles of sledding ahead.

Our team heading out on the trail
Gealach Mor Siberians heading into 2011

Hope everyone is having a very good Hogmanay !