May 10, 2006
This place is so cool... no pun intended! I heard Paul say that the name of this community is "Kaktovik," or something like that. My buddies and I have been staked just outside a really nice house where I saw Mille go in and out.. I think that is where she is staying. We are just soaking up the sun and eating, eating, and eating. We have just about 24 hours of sunlight so we really never want to go to bed. In fact, Jupiter and Xena were howling and barking last night and Mille came out very upset. I guess they woke up the entire family she is staying with. I never really understand why they bark when it is quiet around here and there is really nothing going on. I guess it's simply because they are young. If they were as old as me, they would know better.
Jens came down to say goodbye to us the other day. I heard him say to the children here that he was flying back to somewhere that sounded like "den bark." I really don't know where that is, but I guess it takes him over 40 hours to get there! I wonder if he is going by dog sled? That seems like a mighty long time. Then, the day after Jens left I saw two new guys wearing GoNorth! jackets walking towards us; one was my old buddy, Aaron from Arctic Transect, and some new guy I didn't know. Tucker said his name was "Nick," but Buttra said it was "Mick." Whatever his name is, he seems like a really nice guy... he laughs a lot! But he seemed a bit nervous, too — that was probably because Peto kept yapping at him. It was so good to see Aaron. He has petted me every day since he arrived! He talks to me and says really nice things. He said I was still the best-looking dog in the Kennel, even though I am starting to look a bit older.
Well, we left a few days ago from Kaktovik and I have to tell you about the take-off... my goodness, was it hilarious! I was harnessed on the sled, Aaron had Baffin, and Paul was taking up his team's e stake-out chain when, all of the sudden, his team took off. Mick (or is it Nick?) stood in awe, Aaron was holding Baffin, and Mille just started running. It was amazing! I just stood and barked and cheered everyone on. There were many children and adults watching, and I wondered what they were thinking. They probably thought the same thing I did, that this was simply crazy chaos. I'll bet they wondered if our departures were always is like this... well, I can tell them that they aren't! Mille ultimately caught up with Paul's team, everything got straightened out, and then we were off. My team flipped the sled a couple of times, but it was a blast!
We camped not too far outside of Kaktovik the first day; it was just a nice start. Now, we have been traveling rather short days but making huge miles, sometimes up to 25 miles — and we have only been running a few hours. We have seen lots of seals. In fact, the young dogs — like Goodie and Trigger — didn't even know what the black things on the ice were and so they didn't get as excited as I did. But, once they started to smell the seal and then see them, boy, did we have fun! We were off running like crazy dogs (which we are), trying to catch them. Even though we didn't even get close, it was still fun.
We have seen other wildlife, too. Paul and Mick (or is it Nick?) yelled when they saw some geese the other day and now the most recent days have been crazy with many geese. It's always fun to see and smell the start of spring and summer in the Arctic. There is just nothing like it!
Ok, well, I have to tell you about yesterday. We were traveling and there were some big tower thingies like I saw during our 2004 Arctic Transect trip. Once we got closer, we saw some enormous dish-like things. Mille said it was the "Dew Line," whatever that is. Maybe it has something to do with Mountain Dew, the soda that Paul drinks. Then, as we got closer, it was just huge. Paul said there were cameras on it and Mick (or is it Nick?) said that someone was probably watching us. I think he may be a bit paranoid, but Mille said the same thing. Aaron really didn't care and just kept taking picture upon picture upon picture. We soon stopped for lunch and Paul got out his map to see what we were approaching. I thought it looked like a community, but we soon found out that it was an oil pad (all I know is that it made a lot of noise). We camped right next to the crazy-looking thing and, after Aaron fed me and the gang, the entire team walked up by the big thing and didn't return for a few hours. Then, this morning they went back up there again! I guess we'll just have to try to find out what they were doing there. A bit of a mystery to me, as they never leave us alone for much time out here. I'll do my best to find out, and I hope you will help me!
April 27, 2006
That's the highest mountain I have ever been on! But I have to say it was also one of the best views I have ever seen - and I must say, I think I have seen quite a bit. You know I was born in the desert in a place called Arizona. No trees – just like where we are right now. I guess this is also a kind of desert!? It was so much fun to watch the trees as we were coming down the river, they got smaller and smaller until they barely reached the bottom of my belly. But there were still little trees – and then all of a sudden, no more trees at all! It was not because of the mountains, as we made it up and over these huge climbs and now that we are back down on the river, on the other side, there are still no trees. It was a lot of fun going up and over that mountain. Though one day as we were getting really close to the top, the snow was so deep that it was over my head; even over Lipton's and Baffin's heads – and they are really tall. I was running next to Lightning that day. She is just a youngster, but she was sure doing well. I think it helps that she is so little, because she can easily move around in the snow. Well, then I guess that is just the way it is when you are a young pup! I would fall all the way to the bottom of the snow; sometimes I wondered if there really was a bottom. Disko impressed me the most. He was in lead, running in the front, and he had to leap, dive, and come back up out of the snow for every step forward he went. He is a cool guy! Now that we are down on a river there is a not a whole lot of snow anymore, and what there is, is not too deep. Actually these last few days we have been running along seeing a lot of grasses, moss, and even little flower-like bushes. Very pretty. Might be that there is not a lot of snow, but there is sure a lot of water! And bare ice! Yesterday we were running in water to our bellies, splashing it everywhere. I try to run though this stuff as fast as I can, but it can be difficult because some of my teammates sometimes slow down or even stop right in the water – often when it is the deepest. I can sort of understand it, but it does seem weird that we can run through that much water on top of the ice, and it is still safe. But it really is. Whenever I see Paul walk out front with ski poles in his hand, banging the ice; listening for something – well, that's when I know the ice may start crackling underneath us. It can crackle anytime the sled runs over it, but I have also seen the ice really open up – which is very serious. Running on this ice can also be a bit difficult. The best way is to just move your legs really fast. I think that is why a guy like Tucker, or Nazca, Domino, and Elf do really well running on ice. They can move their legs so fast! I have to say, the youngsters all did great on the ice. Well, except for Jupiter, who had a bit of a tough time running, with his legs sort of going in every direction a lot. But he will learn – I did! Sometimes I have a leg that doesn't go exactly where I planned for it to go – so I guess there is always room to get better!
April 20, 2006
So far we have not been climbing the mountains around here and, even though I really like going uphill, I have to say that is OK with me. These are enormous mountains – really steep and very, very tall. They even make the sun go away! I guess they are called the Brooks Range. Some of the mountains even have their own little clouds ... the other day, I was watching one as we were running alongside it most of the day. The sun was shining bright and the sky was blue, but this little cloud kept changing its shape, sitting right on top of this mountain like a hat! Actually, while we were in that last community – Arctic Village – I heard Paul talking to a nice, older man about the weather. He told Paul that the people in Arctic Village forecast the next day's weather by looking at whether or not one particular mountain is wearing a hat!! Maybe it was that same mountain I was just telling you about!? We have been running by so many mountains, but I have mostly been concentrating on pulling the sled hard since the snow is really deep and Disko is no longer following one of those easy trails; made fast from lots of snowmobile use.
The sleds are also bigger and heavier now because Henry and Jens are traveling with us too. That is so great – I had never met Henry before, but Jens is one of my oldest friends. They keep me busy though. Now I have to watch two tents instead of just one! Seems like some of my young teammates – especially Good Thunder and even Jupiter – are up for keeping an eye open at night as well, so that helps. The other day the guys started talking about grizzly bear tracks again. Since it turns out that the grizzly bears are not all sleeping anymore – like Paul and Mille had been talking about earlier – I have been looking around for any signs of bears. None so far, but lots and lots of caribou! We basically run in the tracks of caribou every day. Actually, for a few days, it was sort of hard work, because the snow was so deep, the ground was very uneven, and the caribou had not made a trail but, instead, just tracked diggings and holes all over as far as I could see. So we would fall into these pits and holes while trying to pull the sled. It was still fun though. I think thousands and thousands of caribou had trekked right across where we were running! Lightning has really learned from her mother, Ruby, to be on the lookout for caribou. Once they spot or smell them, Sable, Khan, Ginger, Tucker, Xena, and Beacon all start loping.
Lately, I have been running a lot with both Elf and Peto. Elf is a really nice guy who is always in a good mood , so I like running with him. Peto and I have a lot of fun trying to see who can make the most noise! A few mornings ago, we were working on waking everyone up for the morning howl when, all of the sudden, something in the distance was howling back at us. It was a bunch of wolves! They didn't come to visit, but we did run across a lot of their tracks too. I know they were wolf tracks I saw because they have really big paw prints; much bigger than mine ... even bigger than Lipton's. I bet two of Nazca's paw prints could fit inside of one wolf print! I think the wolves are following the caribou like we are. Seems like every time we come out of the trees or around a bend in the river there are caribou. Even though the sleds are heavy and the snow is deep, we go really fast chasing their smell, then watch them on the banks of the mountains. Those caribou are really amazing; I have to admit they are much better climbers than I am! I can see their tracks way up on the mountainsides and, on some of the really steep mountains, there are even trails of caribou tracks going right up to the peaks and over the other side! Now I guess we are preparing to go up and over one of these mountains ourselves too. It is hard to imagine, but I am sure Paul, Mille, Henry, and Jens will find a way – and it will be lots of fun!
April 6, 2006
When I look at the sled flying down the mountainside, there is snow everywhere! Well, of course there is snow everywhere – but this snow is really different. The sled dives into it nose-first, plowing back up with sprays of snow to the sides, front, and back. It is really easy to bury my head in it – it's all fluff and you can really smell the stuff. Jupiter – one of the youngsters – even has this thing where he tries to dive into it head-first while we are running. He comes back up with a big grin on his face ... guess he really likes it! But I have warned him about hitting stumps or something, You hit a stump, going seven or eight miles an hour, and you really get a ringing in your ears.
The snow tastes different, too! Especially today, as we got lower and lower and the trees got bigger and bigger. There is lots of funny stuff in the snow – pine cones, moss, bark, and lots of droppings from other animals! Really big ones! Like the size of a very small chicken egg! I heard Paul and Mille talk today, saying those are from the moose. Buttra really likes those! My favorite dropping is from caribou ... I have not seen any of that yet, though I have been looking hard for it. It's like little black candy to me, and it smells great! Rubi and Sable really have a nose for those. Yesterday they both picked up on something large running in the woods to our right; they started looping and pulling the sled hard, throwing themselves into the harness. Pretty soon Nazca, Disko, Elf, and Sami, up front, picked up on it too – boy oh boy were we flying while Mille was making her hunting noise in the back: "Go get'em! Go get 'em!" We couldn't see anything, but we could smell whatever it was alongside of us for a long time. A little later we were coming down a small hill and, right at the bottom, was a big pile of something. Turned out it was a bunch of caribou meat. It was kind of hard to just run by it, but both Paul and Mille sounded pretty serious about our doing just that. However, once we had passed it by, we stopped and then Paul went back and started cutting some off. I guess they had it for dinner last night. It smelled wonderful, and I could hear them talking about how tender it was. Paul thought we should have a treat too, so he gave us a lot of the leftover fat! Nazca was loose this morning; she ran over by the tent when Paul and Mille got out and I think she found some more caribou snacks ... lucky her! She's always very clever like that. She has been working hard with Disko up front the last couple of days.
Once we left the community of Venetie, we started climbing mountains – my favorite thing! Up, up, and up. I think we were doing really well though as we didn't have to stop much. Every time we got to the top of a peak, it was amazing how far I could see ... perfect for polar bear spotting, even though we are not in polar bear country yet. I guess that bears around here are black or brown and supposedly they are all sleeping/hibernating. But wow are there a lot of mountains in this country. This might be one of my favorite places ever – so much to do! Going down the mountainside can get a little crazy, but Paul and Mille quickly came up with a system and sometimes they both work with us on getting just one sled down at a time. That's when it is really steep. On most of those I get to run loose behind the sled – and that's when I can see how the snow just flies everywhere. It looks like clouds of snow!
March 30, 2006
I would be taking a nap and all of sudden a team of sixteen, eighteen – even one time, twenty – huskies would come down the road flying by with lightning speed. It took us a little bit to figure out, but finally Nazca figured out how to get out of this new collar Paul put on her, so she ran over to one of the other dog yards to check it out. I guess they were training for a race that weekend as part of the Fort Yukon Winter Carnival. These ‘racing’ huskies are much smaller than even Lightning or Xena, but they sure run fast. I checked out one of their paw prints compared to mine. Hardly think it was half as big! Now it does not look like you could fit a whole lot into that little sled they are pulling either, but I am still amazed at just how fast they were running. It would have been fun to watch the race, but the morning it was all going to happen, Paul and Mille brought out all the bags to the sleds and loaded them up again. As I was looking at them packing I was thinking it is really lucky our sleds are so much bigger, because there is just no way even – Mille who is pretty good at packing that sled tight – could fit all that stuff in to one of those little racing sleds! Anyway, we were all pretty excited to go and the take-off was a little wild, with the sleds flying everywhere, flipping behind us as we drug them up over the snow banks and that, even though Mille had undone all of the tug lines on our team, so we were only pulling on our neck lines. That means we were just pulling using the collars and our necks – not using the harness. Now, it goes really fast once you get out on the icy roads because the sleds glide so easily – but really I am thinking maybe we have been watching too much ‘racing, sled dog style’ this week or something, because the pace we have pulled at since we left Fort Yukon that morning has just been at an unusually high speed!
The trail was hard-packed – like a dogsled highway – and, on top of that, it was a really fun trail winding through trees, willows, and creeks with tons of tracks from snow hares, lynx, and moose ... so lots of smells to chase. I know Mille and Paul had to work really hard to keep up with us – steering the big sleds so they wouldn’t crash – though a couple of times they sort of did. But I have to admit I don’t think I have ever run on a windier trail. Most the time when I would look over my shoulder, I couldn’t see Khan and Jupiter running in the wheel position closest to the sled, the sled itself, or even Mille steering it right behind me; and when I could, well then, as I would look forward, I couldn't see Disko leading the team because he was already on his way around the next bend. Amazing! "Like a roller coaster ride," I heard Mille say in the tent after that first day of running when we had left the town of Fort Yukon. I also heard Paul that we did something like thirty miles in less than six hours – they sounded pretty thrilled with that.
Now, when I woke up the next morning, on of my wrists was really sore. I tried to run on it making sure no one would notice, but first Sable started getting upset with me because I guess she thought I was slacking. Then Mille changed it around so I was running with my old buddy Peto instead. But it didn’t take long before she was no longer tricked by me, and she stopped the team, took me to the back of the sled … she and Paul grabbed each end of me … and put me in the sled! They put me in the sled! I think that was close to the most embarrassing moment in my life!!!! But hey, it was actually sort of fun after a little while. I mean, we were going so fast and sitting back up against the handlebar. I could watch everything Mille was doing as she was jumping around on the sled up and down, then on the side, then running to the front. She was very quiet, really only yelling "woooooooav" and "sloooooow" once in a while. And I could also watch how my teammates and the sled were just moving like a snake through the forest. Amazing stuff! I did do my best to help, talking to Mille once in a while and making sure to get everybody howling as much as possible whenever we stopped. I spent all day in the sled – actually even got to take a little nap – and then, that night, we pulled into another town, called "Venetie." That sure was fast! It didn’t take us long to cruise down ‘main street,’ so I think it's not a very big town. But there sure are lots of nice people coming by – I hear the students from the school might even come by tomorrow!
March 23, 2006
Running, pulling, and running some more with the big sleds behind us. I love being on an expedition again! We run all day, pulling the sled and then, at night the guys find us a nice spot to sleep. They put up their big green tent and I roll in the snow after I am done eating my dinner.
The last couple of days, Paul has been giving us a lot of fat – chicken fat, I think it is – it is so good! It has also been really good snow for sleeping – very deep :). I dig my hole just deep enough so that I my ears are sticking up over the edge. That way, I can hear everything that is going on and, if I lift my head, I can easily watch everyone.
While this deep snow is nice for sleeping, I have to say that I have been happy that we’ve had a nice hard trail to run on most of the time. Sometimes it has been too narrow for both my running partner and me to fit on it. Then, if I step off of the trail, the snow is so deep I plunge in over my head! While I really like burying my head in the snow, I must admit I like it when I want to do it – not so much when it’s because I’m stumbling over my own legs off the edge of the packed trail. I have been running next to my buddy, Sable, for most of the week and we usually work it out, though the sled did get stuck quite a bit the first couple of days. It would tip on its side in the deep snow – then Mille would try to lift up the sled while telling us to move slowly forward. It was really hard at first because all we wanted to do was just move it forward as fast and hard as possible. Then we figured out that this just seemed to get the sled stuck even more in deeper snow … so, both Paul and Mille had to work hard to help lift the sled out of the deep snow. Sometimes, when the sled is tipped on its side, Mille gets up on top of it and then, when I look back as she tells us to go, she sort of rocks back and forth while pulling the sled up towards herself. It almost looks like she is going to fall off the edge of the sled but right as it tips back up, she jumps off … Okay, a couple of times she did fall down on her back, but she tells us to keep going anyway and then pretty soon she has caught back up to us and jumps on the sled.
Mille and Paul have not yes used their skis next to the sled, but that is good because they have really had to help us steer the sleds in the deep snow. There were also a couple of times where the trail was drifted over so with snow that no one could see the trail at all. It was during those times that I was glad it was Freja who was leading the teams, running as Paul’s lead dog – she is just excellent at finding the trail! You might think this is pretty easy given that she obviously goes into deep snow if she falls off the trail. But see Freja does this all on the run with all of us coming behind her, running four to five miles an hour, and it’s not often that we see Freja go off the trail at all. Just imagine how hard it would be for her (and us!) if she walked off the trail all the time! Freja explained to me that she actually thinks staying on the trail is pretty easy – she feels for the trail with her paws … she’s done it for so long that she can see whether the snow ahead is a harder or softer surface. Pretty incredible. It’s hard for me to look ahead because I usually run behind another dog … but I have tried to look ahead by looking over and around the dogs in front of me, and I sure can’t tell one kind of snow from another!
But I did think I could maybe tell we were getting close to a town the other day, as the trail seemed to get really hard and fast. Sure enough, pretty soon I could smell town – cars, burning wood, and then Paul always says he can “smell the coffee!” As we ran down the street, the local dogs came out with their people to greet us, and everyone smiled a lot. Maybe we can stay here a few days so I can check it all out!
March 16, 2006
Mille is here!
I was sitting with my back against the sun enjoying myself – and getting a bit sleepy from the nice heat – when I thought I heard something in the distance. Now, at first I didn’t really think much of it because, honestly, there seems to be a lot of rumbling around here! But then, last night, I was jerked out of my sleep by what seemed like the Earth growling right into my ear. At first I thought maybe I was imagining stuff, but then I realized Sable heard it too and pretty soon we were all up on our paws. The Earth was shaking! I am not sure what that was all about – and it didn’t last for that long – but it was sort of like being on the pack ice of the ocean when the ice is cracking. I was waiting for Paul to come out of the building right next to us that he sleeps in, but, he didn’t … so I figured we were alright. But then, I start thinking he just can’t hear very much when he is inside that building. It turns out that the noise I heard was a little tiny airplane in the distance. It was even smaller than the ones that fly out to us when we are on the expedition – delivering dog food, butter, and cheese – and much smaller than anything I have ever flown on. I like flying a lot – and I like watching anything that can glide through the air like that, whether it is the big noisy groups of geese we see late on the expeditions, the cool black ravens that follow us when we run – playing around in the air, or airplanes. Mille likes to get the dog team flying by yelling, “Iiiiiiit’s aaaaa biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiird!” really loud, and then we all put our ears back and pull as hard as we can making the sled fly. We really do know that of course we can’t catch a bird – or an airplane – but it makes her so happy to see we are trying, so it’s fun anyway!
So back to Mille … this little airplane circled above us a couple of times and, the next thing I knew Mille came around the corner, just like I have been waiting for, standing right in the middle of us all! Paul gave her a big hug and was definitely almost as happy as I was to see her. He explained to her that he had not heard the plane arriving since he was inside of the building, where he can’t hear much at all. I have to agree with that! Mille was laughing a lot and I think part of it was that, apparently, the plane made it here faster than planned and it probably really surprised Paul because Mille is rarely early!
On that note, it is time for a howl – the sleds are finally being packed, and it looks like we might begin the expedition tomorrow!!!
March 9, 2006
Mille's sled is standing right next to me. I have been sure to keep one ear open all the time, waiting for her to come around the corner, but I just heard Paul talk to “Albert” telling him Mille will arrive the beginning of next week so they can load the sleds, hitch us Polar Huskies up, and head out on the expedition. Albert is what they call the “chief” of town. I think that means he is sort of like what Paul is to the Polar Husky Kennel -- like he is in charge!? We are 20-some Polar Huskies in our Kennel and I guess there are about three times as many people living here in this community, which they call "Circle." That it's called Circle can't be because one gets easily lost -- walking in circles -- when going around town because it is really not a very big place. It's very nice and quiet compared to the big town of Fairbanks where we took off some days ago, waving our tails goodbye and jumping back in the dog-truck. It only took us one day to drive here. Once we arrived, Paul, Mike, and Dan were unloading everything from the dog-truck and trailer and once they pulled out the sleds I knew this was it! We are finally at the end of the road and we will soon get to just run, pull, and run! Actually, we have been running with the sled every day since we got here ... it was just so nice to get back in the harness, pulling the sled with the rest of the gang. Since it has been really warm here the last couple of days, I get hot really fast, but I am sure we will have lots of nice, cold, windy weather ahead. The nicest part about the warm weather is that the kids here really come around a lot to hang out with us. A couple of days ago, there was a big group of kids here all at once -- I love that! Then, yesterday, Lipton actually got to go visit at the local school. Guess maybe Paul thought I was to busy getting ready to write the Timber Tales today!?
March 2, 2006
I can barely stop howling with excitement! We are in Alaska – and it is everything I had hoped for. When we arrived here I jumped out of my dog box and landed in this incredibly fresh, powder snow that is deeper than my legs are high. When I finally got my head out of the snow, I had to sit down and just stare at these really amazing mountains in the distance. Peto lived here in Fairbanks for a while when he was really young and he told me it is Mount McKinley. I think maybe that is the mountain we drove by on the way here. Actually we drove through a lot of mountains. Up and down, up and down, and around a lot of curves. I know I get more tired when we pull the sled up and down steep hills, and I think Paul gets more tired driving the dog-truck up and down steep hills as well. He was sure tired the other morning. But then maybe that was because he was up really late looking for Nazca. She and Xena took-off to explore that night, right after we ate. I was busy eating so I didn’t notice what all happened until later when Paul started calling their names. Then, I realized they were gone!. Xena returned quickly and afterwards she told me it was so much fun to run down the street until she heard Paul calling her and she ran to find him. But Nazca was so fast she didn’t hear Paul. I think Nazca is the fastest running Polar Husky in the Kennel; she makes your head spin. By the time she came back it was really late and I was fast asleep in my dog box. I did hear a noise outside, so I woke up with a bark, but then I could see through the opening in my door that it was her, sitting outside looking up at the boxes. I tried to give her a stern eye because she woke me up, but I don’t think she saw it. Maybe she went exploring because she is in one of the boxes below so she can’t see as much as I can from my box up-top! All that we have gone by this last week is just amazing. The country has been real pretty, and I have seen lots of different animals like elk, mule deer, buffalo, and caribou. I hear we might run into a lot of caribou this year once we get going, pulling the sleds. That is so exciting –I think we need to have another howler right now!
February 24, 2006
I am not sure what they are all so excited about, but I just saw Paul, Dan, and Mike running around outside the truck, up and down the snow banks with their cameras filming and taking pictures. They were all cheering, yelling “the Alaskan Highway…” so I guess that is where we are. That must mean we are getting close to our destination! We are not in Alaska yet though. I know that because we have only stopped at the border once - that was when we crossed into Canada. Sometimes when we drive into another country the nice people in the uniforms come through and open up all the doors to say "Hi" to us. I really like Canada. I have been here a lot, running all over the place. But I can’t wait until we get to Alaska!
I have to say I just love driving in the dog-truck though. It is amazing what I can see through the "window" in my door. Up here on the top level, the dog boxes are cut-out like one of us running, so the view is a little different. I have seen a lot of things on this trip since we left the dog yard – trucks, geese, waving kids, cows, and even a big, stuffed fish the size of the dog-truck! We have been driving for many days now. At first, we drove just one day from the dog yard to Paul’s sister and her husband's place, where we stayed for a few days and hung out with their son, Nick, and all his friends. The morning after we got there it almost looked like they were having a party. I had barely finished my first howl when they started walking in and out, moving tables and being very busy. Cars started pulling up with people piling out, and then Mille and Aaron came in two cars. I think Mille might be better at packing a sled than a car, because whichever door she opened, food was falling out. Everyone had been busy all day but now it got crazy – just like it most often does when the team comes together – people in and out and what seemed like an endless stream of boxes. I wonder if we have to carry ALL of that food in the sleds? It was late night before the chaos settled down, and I was rather amazed by how, at the end, they carried out boxes that looked like those we always pick-up along the expedition route when we get more dog food. They call them “re-supply boxes.” We Polar Huskies always get excited when it is “re-supply” time; that means lots of treats and the team members are really happy about it too. The next morning, they loaded the new boxes into the trailer, then loaded us, Polar Huskies, into our boxes. I got my favorite box up-top - it has the greatest view! Everybody was hugging and kissing outside - and off we went!
February 17, 2006
The dog yard is buzzing. This afternoon Aksel came down here. He is retired now, so he mostly hangs out up by the Expedition barn and the big pole building where all the stuff is that the team members load on to the sleds and bring out on expeditions. This is also where the expedition trailer and dog truck is parked. He came down to give the rest of us the latest scoop…It is finally happening – Paul and his crew started loading the trailer very early this morning. I am excited beyond barks!!
I knew it had to be about that time. Last week the veterinarian came to the kennel to give us all our annual shots. From what I understand, we get injected with this stuff to make sure that we don’t get sick – especially if we encounter other animals like Arctic foxes, wolves or – I don’t know – maybe even polar bears. I wonder if we will see many polar bears this year? I think we just might ...
One day when we were training this fall I heard Paul and Mille talk about the route. I guess we are starting in a little town called Circle in Alaska. From there we will then run up a couple of rivers, up and over some big mountains (which sounds so cool – I love to pull uphill, and I bet that I might be able to get a really good view up there), then down again and out to the Arctic Ocean, where the trip ends in a place called Prudhoe Bay. I don’t like it when the expedition ends. But hey, I guess I will worry about that by the time we get to that point. For now, I just can’t wait to get started running in front of the sled and pulling hard, having fun exploring all day.
Aksel said that, as far as he can figure out, it looks like Paul is all set for the dog-truck, trailer, and everything they put in there (sure hope they remember the dog food!) to be ready to leave from here tomorrow. Then one of the most exciting things happens. That is when that big truck comes rolling down the driveway and parks in front of the kennel. Paul lets each one of us loose, and we run as fast as we can to the truck where he stands and helps us load into a box. Some of the guys are really good at loading into the boxes. The boxes sit on the flat part, on the back-end of the truck. Some dogs can actually jump straight into the boxes on the first level without help. I always go on the second level, it seems. I have it perfected now, where I just need a hand on my back and I can crawl up the side of the boxes, make it into the box and turn around in less than a minute! I have to admit, I think I am one of the best at loading by now ... Actually, Charlie is the best “self-loaders,” but I hear he is not going this year. He is 94 years old (13 in human years), though it is tough to tell. It will be a bit strange not to have him around. He is one of the strongest pullers and always helping out – even helping me out with barking and stuff. I really like him because he always seems to be in a great mood, so he has been one of the greatest teammates. This will be the first expedition I go on without him! It will also be my first expedition without Aksel. That sort of freaks me out a little bit too, because he and Mille always seem to figure everything out together. He has been a fantastic guy leading us across mountains, through tricky pack ice, across thin ice, and into many a community. He has always been a really cool Polar Husky, who just stayed calm no matter what. Aksel is a very good friend of mine – so I will miss him. That said, we have lots of lead dogs this year too: Freja, Disko, Nuka, and even Tucker has learned how to lead the team. Tucker likes to go really fast –so that will be fun! I just can't wait!
February 13, 2006
Welcome to my pages! Beginning February 17, I'm going to tell you about my travels once a week - every Thursday - throughout the entire expedition right here!