Mushing in Ely

We all had a great shore lunch, lots of hot drinks and not so gourmet food that tasted wonderful. The dogs had a nice nap and stayed calm while we ate. Oh except for Mawson our one lead dog and another teams lead dog named Curly. Both had to be separated and sent to their own corners for causing mischief. The big challenge after lunch was to turn the sleds around because we needed to return to camp on a trail that was behind us. Turning sleds is easy, turning the dogs attached is tough. Our sled was the last in so the first back out and was easy to turn. Of course I was kneeling on the lake with Mawson in a bear hug to keep him from devouring Ramona during the wait. I must have been distracted for a second, before I know it Mawson is turning around, dragging Ramona with him and heading back up the trail, I’m scrambling after him. Before I know it, our second position dog, Hobbs, is on top of Mawson sounding wicked. Ramona gets after both of them and it’s all I can do to drag about 150 pounds of dogs back to the front again. Dam, these dogs are strong!! We finally get most of the sleds turned enough so Vera and I head out into the lake and stop for the rest to line up behind us. Might be fun at the front for a while. Whoa! here comes two more sleds, mostly out of control, drag brakes on fully and the mushers yelling WHOA, WHOA to no avail. My dogs were good for the moment and I remembered what the guides told us the first day; Don’t let another sled pass. I jumped over to the one passing us and grabbed the lead dogs and slowed them down until the guide told me to just let them go and get by so no fights would break out between teams that would be side to side. All right, so now we are fourth in line. It’s not a bike race so it really doesn’t matter who’s in first so off we all finally go.
Most of the trails are dog sled only, with the woods trails ranging from easy and flat to twisted and steep up and down. We are all getting better at sled handing, jumping off and pushing on steep uphills or soft snow sections. The sleds have handles with built in brush bars for your hands which is good because there are plenty of times we used the trees and bumpers to bounce us back to the middle of a trail. Always keep your hands inside and watch for some very low fallen trees. The rest of the trip back to the lodge went well. We did have to stop close to the end and wait for a day trip group to clear off the trail ahead of us. We beat them to the lunch camp fire pit but they got back to the lodge before us. By now the dogs can sense they are close to the kennels so all the teams are howling and creating more of the daily chaos. We waited a long time, getting on the move just in time I think. Ready, HIKE and the teams are sprinting again, heading up a steep hill and then down a zig zag trail and eventually to the lake at the lodge. The first team goes down the hill, sharp off camber left turn, both bodies get tossed from the sled, LOOSE SLED! More extra work for the guides. Vera and I get ready, our dogs are just wild and hit the same turn, I fly off the sled to the right as the dogs hit the curve, the sled picks up speed and spits Vera out the other side, LOOSE SLED! Damn, work extra work for John again. Both sleds were captured and all the sleds came to rest at the lake edge waiting to go up the trail I missed this morning and then finish the day. One by one we make it up the short trail and tie off the sleds so we can unchain the dogs and kennel them up. Off with their harnesses and then food and water for all their hard work. Quiet falls over the kennel at last.