Rob's Blog Archive

September 16, 2012

Autumn Sunrise










The temperature peaked at 63 F Tuesday afternoon and it was supposed to drop to the teens overnight.  The sun kept the house comfortable during the day, but I knew that firing up my wood stove for the first time this season would be a good idea. It’s not the manic excitement of the dogs’ first run, but the first fire signifies that the transition to winter has started.  By seven Wednesday morning, the temperature had dropped to 18 F.

The nature of seasons is day length shortens most rapidly during the fall equinox, right about now.  Daily lows and highs also drop rapidly this time of year.  Eighteen Fahrenheit was the low so far this season, but it will get much colder. 

With this, it won’t be long before I can run dogs anytime before noon and not worry about temperatures.  Even now, three or four mile runs don’t require being up before sunrise.  However, just like the days get cooler and shorter, my runs get longer.  I upped the distance to seven miles on Monday and, once again, I had to set a pre-sunrise wake-up if I wanted to get both teams out and back before it got too warm. 

I got out of bed after the first alarm and before the first snoozer, did my chores okay, hit my time marks, and it was 40 F as I left the yard on the second run.  Still, the team got nailed with a 20 F swing that took about 30 minutes, a warm wind not unlike a Chinook blew in and the temperature just jumped.   Happily, while the dogs slowed down a lot, they did okay.  Even with their first 7 mile run---and this route has a lot of hills---and a final temperature just below 60 F, most of the team was standing while I unhooked them to go get water.  Good heads and bodies. 

As warm as Monday was, Thursday was cold for me and perfect for the team that had seen the heat.  I alternate which team goes out first and so it was “The Dogs of a Certain Age” who ran first on Thursday and were on the trail as the sun crested the Swan Range.  It was 24 F as we pulled out of the yard and 28 F as we pulled back in.  I had underdressed for the temperature and was a little cold, but the refraction from the hot air coming from my wood stove rising out of my chimney---second fire of the season---reassured me. 

Aside from Tanner deciding he wanted to go straight rather than into the turn-around teardrop, the team pulled well.  They showed no hesitation as a result of running in the heat last time out. 

Happily, the temperature during the second run started at 38 F and ended at 48 F, much more normal than the jump we had on Monday.  The “Team of the Little Bitches” had nothing to complain about.

My seven mile route is the first that has significant mileage on relatively inactive roads.  With this, there’s more to see. While we were picking up a stash of dog food, my neighbor and fellow musher asked if I saw the construction near the bridge across Deer Creek, just short of three miles out.  I smiled and said yes.  He was referring to a new beaver dam just upstream from the bridge.  I said I thought there was a second dam twenty yards downstream.  I had seen some pooling I didn’t remember from past years, but I wasn’t sure. 

There are also several small stands of aspen along this route, some apparently pretty old.  All of these are showing color, and I’m enjoying this as well.  Color started early this year, but so far it looks like this fall show will be unspectacular.  One thing I’ve learned since I’ve been here is that the fall foliage display varies a lot from year to year.  We’ll see though, until the tamarack turn, typically Seeley Lake’s fall tour de force, it all remains uncertain.

While in college, I wrestled all four years.  It took me a month after my first season to be able to get to sleep without aspirin.  I made sure that never happened again---I was in shape at the start of every other season.  First practice was always around October 15---wrestling is a winter sport. 

By October 15 this year, most of the aspen will have dropped their leaves.  The poplar too.   Only the tamarack will still be on display, and it should be about when they peak.  And, by then, each of the dogs should have 25 hook-ups, 150 miles, and be doing ten milers on hills without even noticing.  Still hitting that first day in shape.

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