Saturday, April 13, 2013

IPSSSDR 2013: West Yellowstone, MT to Ashton, ID and Alpine, WY

Saturday, we took off back to West Yellowstone where the first "real" stage of the race would begin the next morning.  This stage would be about 55 miles from the start to the finish in Ashton, ID.  The trail would climb up and over the Continental Divide, the border between Idaho and Montana.  I was very much looking forward to this stage, because I knew my distance-style dogs would do very well on this steep and long stage.  However, we went much, much slower than I ever thought.

Some of the teams at the race, including mine, caught a little bit of a bug.  It wasn't anything major, it just seemed to slow the dogs way down.  After the first two miles down the trail, we slowed way down and did not speed up.  It was snowing pretty hard, but luckily cleared up a little after we crossed over the divide.  I just made my way down the trail.  The only team behind me passed me and I didn't think I would pass anyone.  About half way through the run, I did pass a team, which made me feel better, but I still knew it was a long ways to the finish.  We eventually made it to the finish, and I did feel better after getting there.  I wasn't as far behind as I thought I was going to be, and at least I wasn't last.  The dogs all ate and drank fine afterwards and were happy.  I was positive for the next stages, hoping that this was just a one-day funk.

I ran a 10 dog team, with Alice and Bella in lead, Jasper and Emmett in swing, DiNozzo, McGee, Khufu, and Super Cub in team, and Kaycee and Ziva in wheel.  The bright side was that all the dogs finished strong and no one had any injuries.  After we took care of the team and put them back in the trailer, we began driving to Alpine, WY, where the night's banquet would be and the next stage.  The drive was very long and hard because of the storm, but we made it to Alpine.  After a good meal, we went to our host family to spend the night.  Because the start order of each stage is the previous day's slowest to fastest teams, I was going to be second out.  This stage was going to be the longest of the whole race at 60 miles.

For this stage I was going to run a 10 dog team again, this time with the 6 dogs that didn't race the day before and 4 who did.  Khufu and Super Cub would be my leaders, Otter and Cessena would be in swing, Jasper, Emmett, Quil, and Embry in team, and Ra and Paul in wheel.  The weather was very nice for this leg, and the scenery was great.  The dogs were still very slow and flat, but we did pass one team, and were third from last (moving up!).  The trail was gentle rolling hills up to a turn around point where we headed back down the same trail.  After coming across the finish line, we fed and took care of the dogs before loading them into the trailer to head for the next town, Pinedale, WY.  On the drive there, as I was telling Dad and Sydney about my run, they told me that race director, Frank Teasley, had taken all the handlers to pizza for lunch while there mushers were battling it out on the trail!  At least I was hungry that night at the banquet in Pinedale, and afterwards, we went to our host family to rest up before the next stage. 

Photos by: Chris Havener

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