There are times when you are out sledding and the day is perfect.It was like that the last weekend in February. During the night the dogs had howled several times, a sure sign that a snow storm of some kind was on its way.
While sipping coffee, I watched the dogs playing in the fresh powder, a multitude of prints as they chased and sniffed throughout the yard. It was a good time to see if anyone was sore, stiff or limping, all is well.
With the dogs and sled loaded into the truck, we headed for one of the most picturesque places to sled, the Zyomitz river. It is a wide trail which runs alongside the river then winds between large trees and back out onto the trail.
The dogs were all eager to go, with a tug on the line we were released from the truck and flying down the trail. You could feel the magic in the air, snowflakes were coming down like little sparkles in the light. The dogs ran like they knew the end of the season was coming. All you could hear was the swooshing of the dogs feet and runners in the snow. The clips and bells made soft ringing wounds in the silence of the forest.
As we came up to the first set of trees I felt a bit of fear. It always makes me nervous to go through tight twists and curves especially with nine fresh dogs. With a death grip on the handlebar we forged ahead. We made it! Now a few moments to relax and enjoy the ride. There were no animal tracks to be seen, it was almost as if we were the only ones out there that day. The dogs seemed tireless heading up the mountain. If the road were good then we would continue on up to Sleeping Beauty, if not then they would get a treat and a short rest before heading back down. Nearing the road we ran into another musher preparing to leave. The road was in no shape to travel on so I turned my team around. The other team kept going as they were fresh while mine needed a small break. I had to wait until the other team was out of sight before I could trust the snow hook to hold them. Finally they calmed down enough to release the brake and open the sled bag. This made them forget the other team for a few minutes. They enjoyed their treat of frozen meat and a good drink of water. Once they were finished I didn't linger. I packed the sled up and off we were again. Panda I let run loose on the way down the hill, she was still hurting from an earlier injury and she would be more comfortable coming down at her own speed. I was right, she kept up with the sled and didn't see to re-injure herself. Soon all the dogs ears were pointing forward, a sure sign of something up ahead. The other team was on its way back, we stopped and chatted for the few minutes the dogs let us, then we headed out in our separate directions. I could hear the sound of his team screaming to follow us, but they soon faded away.
The snow had stopped falling and the sun was peaking out, this made the snow hanging on the branches of the trees seem more dramatic, white on blue.
As we came around the corner I spotted two dogs playing on the trail. Darn, now I have to deal with loose dogs! With a sense of relief I spot someone coming down the trail behind the dogs. That's when I realized that it is not a person but a wolf and the two dogs are not dogs. With a sense of panic I call softly to Panda, who is running loose. and I hook her up.