The coast has been known to challenge teams. It can be brutally windy, cold, and barren. There are no trees to break up the landscape and the runs can seem monotonous. Distances are hard to judge and at times the mushers are running on the frozen sea ice. Luckily, I think the weather is pretty good and I am glad that so far the team seems unfazed by the landscape.
When Mike went through Shaktoolik on the way to the All Alaska Sweepstakes, he reported that the town, in addition to being one of the windiest places he had ever been, was home to a large number of very small, short coated dogs. I do not know why people in Shaktoolik would choose this type of dog as a pet, or even how the dogs were comfortable enough to be running around outside, but it made a striking impression.
As Mike continues up the coast, he may rely on some of our more bullheaded dogs as leaders. Of the 16 dogs he started with, almost all are leaders. However there are many different kinds of leaders. Some are really good at listening to commands, some are competitive and like to chase down other teams, some can find the trail in deep snow, and some are determined to go forward no matter how much wind, water or snow they face. Nestor is one of the most bullheaded dogs we own. As I try to picture the team running across the ice, I wonder if Mike will use Nestor's determination to speed the team along.
|Caitlin and Nestor|