Rob's Blog Archive

October 12, 2014

Basecamp Home










Last winter, I left home and headed off to Alaska.  The challenges started with the drive itself.  Unlike some trips that were nearly storm free, it snowed frequently.  Additionally, as a foreshadowing of the warm destructive weather I saw in Alaska, it also rained.   It was early January, I was on the Alcan just short of Teslin and well into the interior at the time. 

When I drove home, two and a half months after the drive up, there were hundreds of miles of highway along which the snow was so sparse that there were no berms.  I saw lawns in Delta Junction in the middle of March.

By comparison Seeley Lake, home, had a great winter---lots of cold and snow.  Seeley’s statistics say that this winter probably won’t be as good as last winter was.  Of course, odds are it will still be better here than what I dealt with in Alaska. 

Better conditions will be nice, but what I’m really looking forward to is working from my own home.  My planned big adventure for this year is to skijor into the Chinese Wall in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.  The trailhead is only two hours from my doorstep.  I could easily do a shakedown run there—I might still--but I’ll probably just do it a little way up the road.  It ends up that Lindberg Lake and the valley above it are very much like Gibson Reservoir and the valley above it, just a little shorter and, of course, that much closer.  Doing a shakedown there should work fine and it has one other attraction.  It will get me into the Mission Peaks Wilderness for the first time.

There are other things on my agenda as well.  My personal record for most miles skijoring in a day stands at 28 miles.  I had actually tried to do a 35 mile skijor run after I was back in Montana, but found either bare ground or deep hard ice ruts form snowmobiles and called the run short with only 18 miles on skis.  I also only had 200 miles of actual skijoring last year.  Given that I had to truck my dogs to train and, in Seeley Lake, I’ve never had a year where I couldn’t do a lot of training from home, breaking these records should be easy. 

I’m also very much looking forward to getting into the Bob.  What excites me, as much as anything, is developing technique for going into untracked territory skijoring by myself.  I suspect Europeans have done this, but even for them, running on established trail is far more common.

I have to add that the route I’m looking at to see the Chinese Wall is exactly the same I’d choose if I were on skis and without my dogs.  I may be on tracks, something I did multiple times on backcountry skijor trips in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  However, even without a single step onto virgin snow, just seeing the Chinese Wall in the winter will be a remarkable experience.

There is, of course, another huge reason that I’ll enjoy staying home:  It’s a lot easier for the dogs.   When I first arrived in Alaska, it was clear Sima’s arthritis was really bothering him.  Greg, the person I was sharing the house with, had no issue with my bringing Sima indoors to see if that would help.  If it didn’t I knew I had to euthanize him.  He was clearly in a lot of pain.  If it helped a lot, I could put him out in the dogyard with his buddies. 

I had bought a pretty good sized carpet for my bedroom so that Sima could have good footing.  With this, he tolerated well being left alone in my bedroom---he relaxed and slept.  Still whenever we’d go out for our walks around the house, if he fell, he’d just lay there. He always had the strength and coordination to get up.  It just hurt.  With the fact that being indoors hadn’t helped him, the choice to euthanize him was one of the easiest I’ve had.  

What would have been difficult was if being indoors had helped him enough that he wasn’t in a lot of pain, but that he still couldn’t just be set out in the yard.  As challenging as getting everything I wanted to do done when I couldn’t train from the house was, dealing with a partially incapacitated house dog would have multiplied it. 

Here, it’s a much easier situation for a dog to be inside.  Start with I have an old stained and beat up carpet as opposed to nice wood floors like Greg had.  Beyond that, my yard set-up from my days with Dawn and Tenaya as house dogs remains.  I had to walk Sima on a leash.  Here, I could have let him wander in the small yard the girls used to use.  Finally, just like I did before leaving for Alaska, I could bring another dog in for company.  Each of my monsters has several dogs they enjoy, so if they want, finding a buddy is easy.  At home, an intermediate state is really quite workable, and that’s just one example of how much easier being here is for my pack and me.

It all basically comes down to one thing: while adventures outside of Montana are grand, focusing on adventures in the state means I can be home.  And, there really is no place like home.

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