The weather is still cold and rainy in Willow, but I have acclimatized some, and most significantly where my comfort is concerned, have started truck training! haha. Every day I load 2/3 of the team into the dog trailer and truck them up the road to Hatcher Pass. The road to the pass is considered closed after October 1st but this simply means the state stops maintaining it. They leave the gate open for miners, the few people that live back there, optimistic tourists, and stubborn dog mushers.
I park on a wide spot in the road, drop the trailer, hook the dogs up to the truck, boot those that need it (gravel can be very abrasive on dog paws so I watch their feet closely), and go. I enjoy podcasts, Internet radio and coffee as we slowly cruise up the pass to the big gravel pit turnaround. It's luxury mushing to be sure, but is also time-consuming and expensive. I would prefer to get out onto local trails with the six wheeler and smaller teams, but it is simply not a safe option where I live... I am unable to get the mileage I need without crossing the main highway and/or running down the bike path (usually littered with broken beer bottles). I am uncomfortable with both options, so will be trucking the dogs until freeze-up. My training options would expand some if I invested in a four wheeler (which, unlike the six wheeler, would fit in the back of my truck), but truck training is working for us now, and will hopefully continue to do so until the swamps freeze and we can get our mileage from home.
I am currently signed up for three races this season: Alpine Excursions, Copper Basin 300, and Iditarod. Alpine Excursions is an informal early-season race from Cantwell to Alpine Creek Lodge, run on the Denali Highway (unmaintained in the winter). It is more of a fun run then a race. I am excited about the Copper Basin 300! I got a taste of the Copper River Basin landscape in 2013, when I ran the Sheep Mountain 300 which followed a portion of the Copper Basin trail. Gorgeous, gorgeous country. The Copper Basin is known for deep snow, extreme temperatures, and water crossings. It is considered excellent training for Iditarod. I will also be simulating some race situations this winter during training -- possibly in Fairbanks, and definitely on the Denali Highway and the Susitna River. Over half the training pool is unfamiliar with camping and other such situations particular to distance racing, so it is my priority this winter to introduce and acclimatize them to these things.
Check my Instagram and Facebook pages for current updates and pictures.... @lisbetnorris & facebook.com/Anadyr Siberians !
Happy Autumn ! xoxo Lisbet & Team