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Sled - Day (written Dec. 3, 2019

Some context: In Dec of 2019, I rented a house from another musher. It was far from the city (I was living in Boston) and it was my test to see if I could handle more remote life and it was an opportunity to spend as much time learning to sled as possible. In typical me-fashion, I figured I could figure it out myself. I had Tink, Bolt and Hannah at the time. And here's how day two went:


Yesterday was kinda exhilarating in an I fell over a bunch but didn't really hurt anything kinda way. Today I decided to weight down the sled like people suggested (threw 3 pieces of wood in there) + use only 2 dogs + keep the drag mat down / plan for slow and steady. Dogs hooked up well, chunko Tink was free running but in harness in case we needed her. Left out of the driveway, took the first gee up the giant hill. Figured probably hill training was a good idea so continued further up then yesterday, running along with the sled, off the runners, to keep the dogs motivated. It was going pretty well until I started thinking about how much downhill that uphill was producing. Downhill means high speed which exactly what I was not aiming for. Then I thought - well, maybe it loops! (And just now realized the even a loop would have had to come down so not sure how that would have helped at all). After a bit the trail sorta disintegrated into woodlands and I decided I'd unhook the dogs & ride the sled down on my own to learn some maneuvering. Turns out sleds weighted down with wood & with no dogs upfront pulling do not maneuver at all. They just go in a straight line no matter how much body leaning you do. Fail #1 for the day (or lesson?)


Anyway, we made it down, took a gee outta there to connect back to the main trail and hooked Bolt & Hannah back up. All good. As we were going along, I saw that the trail was not like other people's mushing videos. This thing was full of full on downed trees, branches, rocks, just shit everywhere. Extremely ungroomed (a la 70's bush). Maybe not the best trail to learn on. But we pressed on because I'm a stubborn idiot and set myself up for stress and frustration whenever possible. We made it further than we had yesterday and really wasn't too too bad until we turned around- Hannah wouldn't go, Bolt wouldn't go. Then Bolt wanted to go but Hannah was stuck, etc, etc dog frustrations. Actually I don't even care about this story anymore so let's cut to the chase where the sled straddled a rock then got caught so I flipped up over the whole fucking thing while it got hung up. I bashed my knee either on that or some other rock & from there everything went to pretty much shit for the next phase. Caught up on a fucking tree branch, another rock, Bolt was getting frustrated at the lack of progress. My knee was barely supporting my weight nevermind trying to stand on that leg to use the drag mat with the other. BUT pat myself on the back because while I cried somewhere along the way, I did not yell at the dogs. Note - only Hannah cared when I was hurt. Final note - we made it back alive but I have numerous bruises. Final-er note - I think I have to admit now that the sled is possibly permanently out of alignment with a hard right lean from when I transported it lashed to the Thule on the Prius.


Maybe tomorrow we will take a day off and go walking instead. Or we can find some trails that are higher % snow, lower % obstacles.

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