Monday, January 30, 2012

A little bird beats an Iditarod dog team

During an interview with an Iditarod winner the other day, the subject of another musher came up, someone who had not trained his dogs very well. Apparently the dogs were difficult to control sometimes and occasionally would chase after a raven, taking the driver on a wild ride.

It all reminded me of an experience some time ago, when a friend of mine scratched from the Iditarod fairly early in the race which left him not too far from the road system. He left the team and flew out, if I remember properly, for some medical attention.

A week or so later he asked me to go with him to bring the team out. The idea was we would drive as close as we could and then take a small team down a frozen river to the settlement where he'd left his outfit. Then he would drive his team back to the road and I would take the small team we came in with.

The trip as I recall was only about 10 miles or so by dog team and on a beautiful, bright day we made it to the settlement with no problem. My friend said he had some organizing to do and it would take some time to harness all the dogs and suggested I take the five-dog team and start back and he would catch me pretty quickly since he was driving 16 and I had only the five.

That sounded fine with me and I headed the dogs back onto the trail we had arrived by. As we moved along, the dogs were lollygagging and I let them, just moseying along figuring my friend would catch up any time and once he passed us the dogs world perk up and follow him.

The trial was pounded down from the surrounding snow which left a berm two or three feet high on each side. We were kind of traveling in a groove. Ahead I noticed a dark spot on one of the berms. The dogs saw it too. Turned out it was a little bird of some sort and on the approach of what to it probably looked like a pack of wolves it took off and flew straight down the trail, low, between the berms.

The dogs lurched into a run so fast they almost threw me off the sled. For whatever reason the bird didn't leave the trail for what I would guess was about three miles with the dogs in hot pursuit. It could have been it was flying so low between the berms it couldn't see anywhere to divert off the trail. The bird finally gained enough altitude to fly off the side of the trail and the dogs slowed down, but the run had taken some of the soup out of them and they settled into a nice easy trot the rest of the way.

We reached the parking area and I turned the sled over and tied it to the truck while they rolled in the snow and settled down. I found them some snacks and let them chew on those for a while. I was sitting on the turned-over sled sipping a Pepsi when my friend drove up with his full Iditarod team. At first he said he was glad to see me. He'd thought I had lost the trail somehow. Then he began to realize I and the five dogs had beaten his fancy 16-dog team. How did you do that, he demanded.

I never said a word about the bird. Now, this fellow was known to be very excitable so I smiled at him and very calmly told him, maybe the dogs respond to me better. He mumbled and grumbled the whole way home in the truck while I just whistled a bird song as I watched out the window.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, you would do that, Tim! I can just see it.

    Jerrianne

    ReplyDelete

Interesting quotations

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeare on Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

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I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

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Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

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3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

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As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

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Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

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"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

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"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

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